Punk Pages #2

By Richard Heaven

Welcome to Punk Pages, our biweekly feature focusing on punk friendly and socially aware comic books. Let’s get started…

Critical Hit #4 (Black Mask Studios)

Matt Miner / Jonathan Brandon Sawyer / Doug Garbark

So this is it, the final issue of Critical Hit. Issue #4 picks up exactly where Issue #3 left off, with our activist heroes on one side of the locked container doors and the drunken hunters on the other. It’s easy to forget that the story is larger than Sarah and Jeanette but things are heating up for Jill and Heather as well as they find the fed’s hanging around the group’s HQ. Real heroes don’t wear capes, but they don’t wear federal agent badges either. As important as these two prove to be in the upcoming scuffle, I can’t help but feel that Miner missed a trick by not developing their story further – it seemed so promising back in Issue #1 but now they’ve essentially been demoted to minor support characters.

A recurring theme in Issue #4 is the question ‘how far are you willing to go to do what’s right?’. It had been suggested that blood will flow in the run up to the final showdown but I didn’t see one of the lesser character’s demise coming. In some ways it felt like a throwback to the Earth Crisis mini-series in the sense that questionable characters can occasionally step up to the plate and do good things, whether it’s Sarah striking back against the lab she found herself working in or Walter’s heel turn.

Everyone expects a final issue to go out with a bang but all too often these surprises feel like a token gesture which don’t really serve a purpose other than to give the art team a little indulgence. I can happily say that Critical Hit fails to fall victim to this by remembering that, at it’s heart, Critical Hit is a story about relationships in the face of adversity and never letting picking overindulgent spreads over character development.

It’s easy to get upset when a series as strong as Critical Hit or Liberator ends but I don’t think we’ll be waiting too long before Heather and Sarah appear on our shelves once again if the action teased at on the final page is anything to go by. Until next time!

In Stores Now
One for the pull box? Definitely.

Anxious And Worrying #1 (Black Lodge Press)

CJ Reay

Alright, I guess this technically counts as a perzine but hey, what’s the point of being independent if we can’t bend the rules a little? Anxious And Worrying is a 24 page A5 zine featuring comic strips about growing up in a naturist family, sadness, veganism-whist-biking and Herbie, CJ’s cat. There’s a couple of nods to Rvivr and One Night Stand In North Dakota (ONSIND) and, although it’s a pretty quick read, for £2.50 it’s worth picking up if you come across a copy in Orbital.

One for the pull box? Yes if you’re into zines as much as comics.

Toe Tag Riot #3 of 4 (Black Mask Studios)

Matt Miner / Sean Von Gorman / Savanna Ganucheau


This is a good week for Miner fans as not one but two new comics of his drop on the same day. We’ve already talked about the serious, heavily grounded Critical Hit so now we’re going to take a look at the all together more light hearted (but still socially aware) Toe Tag Riot #3.

When we last reviewed Toe Tag Riot we were unsure whether the larger story would be able to live up to the premise laid down in issue #1. Luckily Miner has opted to take a more singular approach to the story with each issue pitting our zombpunks (I’m making that word a thing. Deal with it) against a different hate group whilst heading towards their final show off with the Westboro Baptists. Issue #3 sees them go up against a bunch of queer hating dude-bros on their way to spring break as they harass Annie and Evie. On a purely selfish level it’s great watching a bunch of bros being scalped, strangled and force-fed steroids to the point of exploding – I’m sure that we’ve all taken shit from these kind of guys at some point in our lives – but it also reminds us that not all negative groups rally under a banner as obvious as One Million Mums or the Westboro Baptists.

As far as crucial content goes Issue #3 is probably more filler than killer but it’s still enjoyable finding out how Evie lost her arm, Andy Hurley survives taking a couple of slugs to the chest and what the best name for a punk’s teddy bear is. As per usual the art is probably the weakest part of Toe Tag Riot but it’s become so violently over the top now that it’s hard to imagine it being done in any other way whilst firmly keeping it’s tongue firmly in cheek.

In Stores Now
One for the pull box? Definitely.

Do You Remember Rock N Roll Record Stores (NIX Comics)

Bela Koe-Krompecher / Ken Eppstein / Andy Bennett

Closing Doors #1 (NIX Comics)

Mark Rudolph


I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t have known of Nix Comics if Ken Eppstein, indie writer and Nix Comics publisher, hadn’t reached out to us after the release of Punk Pages #1. I’m sure glad that he did though otherwise we wouldn’t have discovered Do You Remember… or Closing Doors. Both look at the social aspect of owning record stores, from the relationships formed between employees and bands to their importance within the community.

Do You Remember Rock N Roll Record Stores focuses on Bela Koe-Krompecher’s time working at The Annex, one of the midwest’s biggest indie stores, and his experiences with the Ramones. One part High Fidelity and one part SLC Punk, Do You Remember… takes us from the comforting safety of The Annex’s back room to the seedy clubs of South Campus and everywhere in between. If I have one criticism of …Rock N Roll Record Stores than its this – it really deserves to be a series It’s super enjoyable as a one shot but I’d love to see more of Bela’s life adapted for the comic book community – after all, I doubt The Ramones were the only band he’s had run ins with and there must be a wealth of stories from when he co-ran Anyway Records. With Andy Bennett’s stark, scrappy illustration style really capturing the spirit of time, I think Nix has the groundwork for something great if they ever decide to expand upon it.

Whilst Do You Remember… focuses on a single, very specific story in Bela’s life, Closing Doors paints a much larger picture. This is the story of a small town record store struggling to stay afloat against the corporate whitewashing of the local high street. That isn’t to say that Closing Doors lacks characters – through Elvin’s ageing eyes we meet his neighbours, ex-employees and the all important regulars who visit Boogie Records for the music but stay for the companionship – but the main story is rooted in the exploration of how important these places are to the wider community.

Where as Andy Bennett’s art gave Do You Remember… a harder edge that suited it’s punk rock focus, Mark Rudolphs softer lines and use of gradients suits the nostalgic element of the story. I’m not a big fan of the impromptu film noir-esque sequence but aside from that this double-sized issue really is an enjoyable read.

Available Online Now

Rat Queens #8 (Image)

Kurtis J. Wiebe / Roc Upchurch / Ed Brisson


I love Rat Queens. It’s been a while since a fantasy comic has come along that’s just blown everything else out of the water. The Rat Queens, refusing to temper their hard partying and even harder fighting lifestyle for anyone, are just so unapologetically awesome.

Issue #8 doesn’t really add much to the main story but it does give us an insight into Violet’s past and her decision to shave her beard off (in the world of Rat Queens even female Dwarfs tend to take great pride in their beards) prior to the beginning of the series. As much as we’ve grown to love the Rat Queens over the previous seven issues, this has really hammered home how little we actually know about them prior to teaming up aside from the occasional quip here and there. The pacing feels a little slow compared to previous issues but the last couple of pages promises to kick start the next arc with Hannah dragging a suddenly unconscious Violet through the glass of a mirror into another place or perhaps time. I’m confused but excited! Roll on Issue #9.

In Stores Now
One for the pull box? Definitely.

Proactive Insurance: The Pros #1 (Self Released)

Steve Stormoen / Jelena Dordevic

The Pros is a new indie comic series currently being funded via Kickstarter and ran by fomer Quick Attack member and Santa Babrbara (CA) community organiser Steve Stormeon. The concept is deceptively simple – Insurance companies thrive from having access to information that allows them to turn a profit, so what happens when these companies assemble teams to interfere with a situation whilst keeping them in the loop? The Pros sees one of these companies assembling a team consisting of a genius, a cynic, a posthuman hacker and an ex-serviceman to interfere with an American gun worshipping cult. Can the pro’s get out of this whilst still changing the world for the better, and where do you draw the line in this morally dubious game?

It takes a while to warm to the characters, my favourite being the post-human hacker Cle despite the majority of the issue #1 focusing on the ex-serviceman turned peace activist Nass. Hopefully Issue #2 will see the rest of the teams history expanded upon – there’s definitely a lot of potential to be found within this mismatched group of social misfits but at the moment they come across, for the most part, as a little dour. The art style is ok – sometimes it feels a little too busy but the grounded nature of it definitely fits the tone of the comic. Talking of a grounded nature, nothing feels overly exaggerated in The Pros, from the distraction techniques used during the peace march to the basic but strangely cute looking team drone. The Pros #1 shows potential, I just hope that they don’t forget to develop the relationships within the team whilst focussing on the bigger story.

If you want to pick Issue #1 up or contribute to future issues then head over to their Kickstarter page:

One for the (digital) pull box? Sure, it’s always good to support an indie comic.

Support your local comic store – we recommend:

Travelling Man (Newcastle)
Orbital Comics (London)
Piranha Comics (Kingston)

If you have any independent comics that you’d like mentioned, please drop us a line at Richard.Heaven@punktastic.com