All the while I was reading this issue of Critter, I was saying to myself three stars, three stars, three stars. Don't misread me, it's written fine. It simply didn't seem to have the focus of previous issues. That all changed when I hit the startling ending and I realized that I had been played by writer Thomas Hutchison.
Critter starts out ordinary. Twelve hours ago, one of Hutchison's and Ossio's many heroes cleans up after an attack by Amphibidons. They're exactly what you think. Icon, the team leader watches, and reveals that Tidalpool, last issue's repellent villain that spews sea goo, defied physics by appearing in multiple places at once.
All of this however is "irrelevant" because Paradox, the team's resident time traveler, wants answers from Critter.
It seems the slightest deviation in recorded history sets Paradox on edge. Not a bad bit of characterization for a time traveler, but this is only the beginning, foreshadowing what's to come.
Critter's being manipulated by very high forces, few of them good. Even the loss of Critter's belt with a telekinetically controlled false tail appears to be part of a long game. Charity, the hero who returns the belt has secrets of her own. I have my suspicions. Hutchison does a good job keeping Charity's mysteries hidden, but when you add up the facts, fairly given to the reader, you should be able to deduce the answer.
Critter gets another visitor in the shapely form of Tabitha alias Cougar, leader of Purrfection. A lame, oh-so lame, name, but the super-team of feline heroes, isn't meant to be totally serious. Even if you groan upon hearing the monicker, you must admire the talent behind the cat's meow.
The Art of Seduction
Fico Ossio really sells the idea of Tabitha being a siren, tempting Critter with each touch, each whisper, and I'm not suggesting sexual conquest. Though sensuality is part of her persuasion. Rather, Tabitha is doing something to change Critter's mind. She's enticing her with each flounce of her skirt and haunting her with a circular dance. Her power may be based on pheromones or hypnotism. Her technique amplifies it. She may be a master of psychology and salesmanship. She may practice body language and believe in the power of words. Option D? She's a witch. If so, her name's no accident.
Cue Short-Lived Television Series Reference
Whatever the truth, the unrecorded, sleight of hand recruitment outrages Paradox, leading to the big payoff for the faithful readers that have stuck by this winning series from its one-shot debut. However, casual readers as well will note the power in the scene.
Ray Tate's first online work appeared in 1994 for Knotted. He has had a short story, "Spider Without a Web," published in 1995 for the magazine evernight and earned a degree in Biology from the University of Pittsburgh. Since 1995, Ray self-published The Pick of the Brown Bag on various usenet groups, where he reviewed comic books, Doctor Who novels, movies and occasionally music. Circa 2000, he contributed his reviews to Silver Bullet Comic Books (later Comics Bulletin) and became its senior reviewer. Ray Tate would like to think that he's young at heart. Of course, we all know better.