Friday, August 12, 2011

Critter #1 from Big Dog Ink

reviewed by Simon Breeze

Critter is the story of a country girl joining the ranks of the world's greatest heroes, and it isn't all sunshine and marshmallows! The learning curve of saving cats from trees and pulling tractors out of the mud in Michigan, to fighting real-deal super villains who won't hesitate to kill you is, well, let's just say the life of a superhero is far from easy as Critter is about to find out.

I have read issue one of Critter a couple of times now and enjoyed it tremendously each time. As the blurb says Critter is a story about a young girl called Cassia, who is leaving her small town country ways behind and is moving to the big city to join a team of big-time super heroes as the super hero, Critter.

The story, for me, is in three parts. The first part of the story is set in Cassia's home town of Michigan where we learn a little about her simple and fun life there as a young girl with her friends and family. The second part of the story sees a jump to several months later and Cassia has moved to the city and is now part of a group of super heroes fighting crime and super villains. The third and final part of this smashing first issue of Critter is set in Cassia's school where we get to meet her roommate and get a little peak into her 'normal' life.

It is a simple first issue formula, but there in is the thing that makes Critter a highly enjoyable read.

As the poster says: Remember When Comic Books Were Fun?

So you know what you are getting into from the start. A real fun, sometime sweet, super-hero action adventure with a very likable lead character (with cat ears!).

One of the things that I really like about Critter is the lead character of Critter - Cassia. Cassia is very easy to identify with and you very quickly become emotionally tied to her from the very first (if not you will by the second) page. You find yourself caring, and sometimes worrying about her as this first story grows, and yet you hardly know her, even by the end of this first issue. I put this down to some smart story telling and brilliant artwork from the off that carries on throughout the comic. Cassia has been created in such a way, character and visually, that you can't help but develop an attachment to her. The sweet, sometimes naive small-town county girl by day; the cat-eared heroine by night.

In her role as Critter, Cassia doesn't lose any of that small-town charm either. With a hero persona of a cat it would have been very easy to have taken a turn down that same road as DCs Catwoman: an uber-confident feline sexpot. Instead Critter embraces the more fun side of things and retains that appeal as a hero that she has as a civilian - which is great. This also applies to her costume too, which has a fun 'manga' feel to it that is awesome.

So that's the character, what about the story?

The story is really good, has and hints to a lot of potential and is a very fun read too. From paint-balling the local boys as they tip cows, to brawling with a villain in an alleyway, to finding one of the guys in her dorm has stolen her underwear! There is a lot going on in this first issue, however at a pace that is comfortable and at no time feels rushed. Although I have said earlier in this review that this first issue uses a simple formula, that by no stretch of the imagination means that the story has no depth. Within the pages of this first issue we get introduced to several characters, concepts and the world of Critter. Not only this, but we get a glimpse of some very interesting stories to come. All effortlessly and enjoyably bundled up in a twenty page first issue.

There is not one thing I disliked about this comic, the writing and art are both top-notch and fit the style of story being told perfectly. Critter gave me a big nostalgic hit and took me back to when I was younger, to 'back-in-the-day' (the 90's) reading comics sprawled out on my bed or my parents living room floor, and there is a very strong vibe of this era throughout, especially the artwork, which I loved. If I have understood what Big Dog Ink are trying to achieve with Critter, and I like to think that I have, this was no mistake and they have hit the nail right on the head in my opinion.

I'm going to give Critter a well deserved 5 out of 5 ker-pows! This first issue is the start of what appears to be really fun super hero adventure with lots of thrills and spills to come.

For more information on Critter and other Big Dog Ink publications, visit their website.

Critter #1
story by Tom Hutchison & Kel Nuttall, art by Fico Ossio
published by Big Dog Ink, July 2011

Thanks to Simon for another enjoyable review - I must admit I hadn't spotted this title from Big Dog Ink when I was placing my advance order but I'll definitely be picking it up from now on.

Don't forget, you can check out more from Simon - including his writing and artwork - over at his
. There will be another review from Simon next week.