REVIEW: ‘Critical Hit’ #1

(Black Mask Studios, 2014)

Written by Matt Miner
Pencils and Inks by Jonathan Brandon Sawyer
Colors by Doug Garbark
Lettered by Crank!

It’s hard to stay on top of modern entertainment.  It comes out so fast now that before you know it “I’ll start watching Game of Thrones after the first season is collected…” becomes, “…oh crap, Game of Thrones is starting it’s fifth season and I’ve yet to watch any of them…”  (And that is a truthful statement, though I have read the books…)

If any of you missed the release of Matt Miner’s Liberator and Liberator: Earth Crisis, than now is the time to prime your pull list, because on October 1st Miner releases Critical Hit with Black Mask Studios.

This is the debut of a new art team, with Jonathan Brandon Sawyer doing pencils and inks and colors by Doug Garbark.  Both have a fantastic style that combines to make a superb looking comic, and Miner takes us even darker in this version of Liberator.

In Critical Hit we see the return of Sarah and Jeanette, both mask wearing, sledgehammer wielding woman on a mission.  That mission, which they whole-heartedly choose to accept, is the protection of animals.  This time they take that protection to the woods, and bring the fight against cruelty to the hunters who wantonly crash about the woods blasting away with all manner of heavy artillery.  Miner also brings in satellite characters that we have seen throughout the first couple of books.  Tensions run high inside the group and trust is a huge issue, as it should be in a situation where each of the players is risking so much.  Miner also provides some back-story that is essential to the formation of certain characters current ideologies, and that helps to build more rounded characters and makes an easier connection with the reader.

Sawyer and Garbark must be on the cusp of being completely popular, because their art is amazing in this book.  Sawyer’s pencils and inks provide a painfully candid look into Sarah’s life, and then later revel in the action that takes place later on.  Garbark’s colors help to accentuate Sawyer’s work, adding depth to the figures and helping to round out Miner’s characters.

I almost forgot the variant covers.  Check out the variant covers.  If you’re suspect of how popular the series has become, just take a peek at those variants and who worked on them and you’ll know that the Liberator title has hit a nerve in the entertainment industry.

Matt Miner’s short comics career is destined to become a long comics career.  In the short time that he’s been putting out books, from the Kickstarted first series to the current run, he has taken his passion for writing and the protection of animals and made it a viable comic property.  What could have been a one-off project has now become a pull-list comic, one you can look forward to every month to bring all that a comic should.  Beautiful art and an engaging story are the hallmarks of Miner’s work, and the passion he has for the subject matter is reflected in the passion he has for the book.  This is proof that one guy can “do it”, that if you love your subject matter it shows up in your work, and that, given a little time and an extraordinary amount of work, you can make a comic that is not only a good read but sends a message as well.

Critical Hit ramps up the action, makes the hunters the hunted, and shines in every way a comic should.  Miner, Sawyer, and Garbark are worthy of the praise, and the cause is worthy of your attention.


Brad Gischia is a writer and artist living in the frozen Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He is married and has three kids and a dog, who all put up with his incessant prattling about comic books.

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