Brimstone and the Borderhounds – Critical M.A.S.S.
Brimstone and the Borderhounds: Critical M.A.S.S. is the kind of thing that most comic book fans dream of—a massive team-up with a bunch of heroes (though, in the case of this particular comic, misfits is probably a more appropriate term), fighting crime and monsters together with their combined…er, “powers”. In this case the team-up ends up being more of a party, which is probably exactly what would happen if my best friends and I all got together and had superpowers and decided to fight crime. Hilarious, bizarre, and tons of fun, Critical M.A.S.S. is thrilling from start to finish, made entertaining by the dynamic cast of characters, quirky dialogue, and pop-off-the-page art.
As the comic is named after him, we still have Brimstone and his men, and the story, of course, involves a creature straight from the depths of hell, but we’re also introduced to a whole slew of new characters to help battle the oncoming crisis. At first I thought it was just going to be a group of four or five heroes but as it continued the characters just kept on coming, joining the cause to help in the battle. There are a ton of them. And they are certainly a diverse group.
That is the one minor issue that I had with Critical M.A.S.S.—as the team of “heroes” is being built and each of them gets their own introduction (save, of course, for those whom we already know from Brimstone’s crew), we don’t dive too deep into their personalities and are instead referenced to the heros’ original comic. While they’re all interesting in their brief introductions and are easily distinguished from each other, when there are so many there are some who just get lost in the shuffle. This happens a few times and with the wide range of characters, we don’t really get the opportunity to meet many of them or get to know any of the heroes in a much more personal way. However, I’m sure that if I’d read the other issues, I would know exactly what was going on and who some of these people were.
That aside, the issue is a fun ride and the team-up, while at times somewhat confusing, is humourous and entertaining. The characters are very aware of how haphazardly their team was put together, and that only seems to add to the whole “we’re a team of so-called heroes, and we’re meant to fight this thing, but half of us seem legitimately crazy while the other half seem somewhat sane.” They are all different types—some with luscious, flowing, magical hair and others looking like they crawled out of a deep, dark, scary place (and then, of course, there’s also the eccentric Lush himself) and each with their own fighting style, which makes this issue even more atypical and fun. This is the kind of comic that could be a hilariously crazy movie.
It’s an unholy marriage of all the things that I’ve always dreamed of in my comic book readings—I love it when teams make absolutely no sense whatsoever, when some of the members have questionable (or, in this case, no sense of) morality, when they’re put together and still, somehow, manage to work despite their wide range of differences. Critical M.A.S.S. manages to do this, manages to make it all work together, creating a funny narrative and a well-told story about a group of ragtag characters coming together to fight a huge, terrifying creature (from hell, of course). It’s entertaining from start to finish, and if you can look past the confusing cast of characters—or pick up the issues featuring these characters before you read Critical M.A.S.S.—the comic is very, very cool and tons of fun.