The Webcomic Overlook #145: Critical Miss

When all’s said and done, webcomics are a damn cushy media to be reviewing. While the total audience isn’t small, it is somewhat fragmented with readers spread out over different genres and formats. At the same time, there are few centralized communication channels. Reviewing webcomics are not too different than reviewing books, only without gray ladies like the New York Times to give everyone an air of legitimacy. On the plus side, the low-pressure environment means that webcomic reviewers are, for the most part, free to state most controversial opinions and not have to worry about backlash.

Compare that to, say, video game reviews. Pretty much everything that can be said about video game reviews is encapulated in the story of its patron martyr, Jeff Gerstmann. For Webcomic Overlook readers unfamiliar with the controversy, here’s the Reader’s Digest version: in 2007, Mr. Gerstmann was the Editorial Director of the Gamespot website. Eidos Interactive had bought up a bunch of adspace on the site to promote it’s new Kane & Lynch game. Gerstmann gave the game a negative review, and shortly afterwards, he was fired. Rumors quickly circulated that his termination was directly tied to Eidos pressuring Gamespot to fire the guy, and those rumors only escalated when several Gamespot staff members quit in protest.

There’s a lot of stuff digest here. There’s the confirmation, in many people’s minds, that video game reviews are basically just big ads for the video game companies, and you can lose your account like an advertising agency would if things don’t go right. So how do you, the reader, know that the review you’re reading is not merely of a multi-million dollar marketing strategy to trick you into dumping money on a worthless game?

Then there’s the issue with the rating. Did you know the controversial review actually scored a “Fair”? That’s a middle of the road 6.0-6.5, according to Gamespot. I video game reviews, this is called a bad score. Video game reviews live and die on Metacritic, which is supposed to aggregate all reviews everywhere. If a game doesn’t score at least in the high 80’s, it’s considered a bad score. And we can’t have one guy’s opinion ruining the average, right?

Worst of all, video game companies aren’t the only thing putting pressure on video game reviewers. There’s the gamers. Gamers are competitive by nature. So when a game they love is given a low score, they bay and cry and accuse the reviewer of being ignorant about video games. How dare they bring the Metacritic score down! Woe to those who commit the heinous crime of daring to say that they didn’t enjoy Fall Out or Grand Theft Auto.

So there you have it: the messy double-edged sword of video game reviewing. Give a game a good grade, then you’re in the pockets of the game companies. Give the game a bad game, then you’re an ignorant moron who should never touch a keyboard again. Yet people want to put up with video game reviews because a new game is upwards of $50, and no one has the sort of disposable income to throw away on a game that’s no good at all.

This is the sort of cutthroat world that Erin Stout, the heroine of video game webcomic Critical Miss, finds herself in. Yes, Virginia, this is another video game webcomic review! Critical Miss is hosted on the Escapist website, and it’s written by Jonathan Grey Carter and illustrated by Cory Rydell.

Earlier this year, several webcomics competed for the right to get published by Escapist Magazine (“Yahtzee Croshaw, Yahtzee Croshaw…. and Yahtzee Croshaw!”) The winner was decided by a judges panel that included webcomic luminaries Ryan North, Brian Clevinger, and Shamus Young. Between those three, they’ve written Dinosaur Comics, Machine of Death, 8-Bit Theater, Atomic Robo, Stolen Pixels, and DM of the Rings. As you can guess, Critical Miss emerged the winner. I’ll let Shamus Young explain the victory:

I’ve always been a fan of the “charged attack” school of web-comicry. (It’s the approach I strive to use most often.) Instead of going for a single surprise punchline, you tell a series of mild half-jokes. It’s like a warm up act to get the audience ready for the final panel. It’s like a warm up act to get the audience ready for the final panel. … This is one of very few comics in the entire contest that got me to burst into real, sustained laughter. (And note how much funnier this joke is because our lead is a female. You two-guys-on-a-couch writers are handicapping yourselves.)

Lots of contestants did the “gamers talking about games”. A few did the “game developers talking about games”. Here is a game journalist.

The series has a unique premise, a unique voice, a unique protagonist, and a joke about instant beardification.

Erin Stout stood out as a character for me. In a sea of “this person is a gamer” introductions I think she made a solid first impression.

First of all, I’ve covered many of the new generation gaming comics on this site, and most have rightfully shelved the whole two-guys-on-a-couch theme as a stale, decades-old relic. Second of all, how does the phrase “instant beardification” not induce epic eye rolls? Humor: so super-subjective it hurts sometimes.

Erin Stout is a professional video game reviewer. Her editor, Sharon, doesn’t even bother to hide the fact that they’re basically writing reviews to shameless promote the latest releases from the gaming publishers. As lifeless, factory-produced positive reviews are churned out en masse, the honest, hard-working reviewers have to fight for the bottom-of-the-barrel games like Kane & Lynch 2 and Virtua Shit Eater. (What, no reviews for Daisy Fuentes Pilates?) As a result, Erin is bitter and jaded, to the point where she no longer seems to groom her gigantic sideburns.

The title Critical Miss is loaded with meaning. It’s a wordplay on “critical mass,” a reference to the video game term (“critical hit”) about making that one strike that saps a lot of hit points (or not making that strike, as the title seems to be implying), and the snarky — or should I say, “critical” — nature of Erin’s employment… and oh, she’s a girl! A GAMER girl! Anyway, the incredible triple-entendre is fantastic in both its simplicity and elegance.

That title, incidentally, is the wittiest the comic will ever get.

The downside to reviewing a video game webcomic is that ultimately you’re going to run into that tired old defense of “you’re not a gamer so don’t criticize something you don’t know, stfu n00b.” Seriously, it never fails. It doesn’t matter if you play video games or not… you’re always going to get this sort of response because no human being on God’s green Earth can play every single video game on the market. Thus, it’s inevitable some jokes will go over a lot of folks’ heads.

However, I will tackle in depth one strip about a game I am intimately aware of: Sid Meier’s Civilization franchise. The gag starts with Erin chastising people who were upset about Kurt Cobain in Rock Band, and how those same people would flip their lids if they saw a non-pacifist Gandhi in Civilization 5. The controversy in a nutshell: Cobain fans insist that he would never have played other bands’ songs in real life, and letting an avatar resembling his character play songs other than Nirvana songs was an insult to his personal ethics … especially when there are avatars in existence that are keyed to their bands’ songs only. So, long story short, Carter and Rydell portray Gandhi as a vicious warlord.

So, first of all, why would gamers specifically have issues with Gandhi in Civ 5? I mean, the infamous pacifist has been in the game since the first game debuted in 1991, and we were making “badass Gandhi” jokes back then, too. So why Civ 5, specifically? I’m probably assuming much, but wouldn’t the staunchest Kurt Cobain defenders have grown up in the 90’s, which means that they’d have been pretty familiar with Civ’s 1-4 if that was their thing?

Second of all, the gag is played as something of a fresh observation. What, you mean the same gag that everyone has made since, I don’t know, Gandhi started his hunger strike? Weird Al Yankovic already made this joke in the movie UHF. Hell, I am almost certain the people who run the Civilization ad campaign have already made this joke: I seem to remember some magazine ads for Civ 3 playing off the “violent Gandhi” theme. A “series of mild half-jokes” is hardly worth it if all of them are old, tired, and hardly funny.

I understand how incredibly nitpicky this sounds. Here’s my tortured, belabored point: Critical Miss combines a tragically misinformed understanding of video games with really, really terrible jokes. And you sorta need a good understanding of video games and good jokes to do a good video game comic.

As a result, the final punchline of a typical Critical Miss strip hardly ever feels earned. What’s the joke behind this strip lampooning a re-release of Star Wars in 3D? Is it basically how every 3D joke goes, in that things are being thrown at you? Or is it that nonsequitur boxing glove in the second to last panel? (Which, incidentally, would have been a lot funnier if either Han or Greedo were drawn better, parhaps with Greedo’s face looking ridiculously deformed. As it is, it looks like a lifeless trace of the original stills.) In any case, that last unnecessary panel feels like salt in the wound. The Critical Miss guys are, more or less, telling us how awesome their gag is. Erin’s completely stoked and flippin’ the double bird. Meanwhile, everyone else is crying or looking on in shock or throwing up. What a totally rad reaction for an extremely lame joke!

Now, I’m not going to say that Critical Miss is never funny. Don’t be silly. Even the worst webcomics have a few good strips. And with Critical Miss, there were, like, two good strips. Total. While I’ve never played Shaun White’s skateboarding game, I did appreciate the takedown of how its surface message of anti-authoritarianism just did not jive with the game’s fulltime product shilling. And the Blade Runner/Duck Hunt mash-up? Not too shabby.

Most of the time, though, the jokes are atrociously lazy. Having a hard time coming up with a punchline? Nothing that random, wacky violence can’t cure! Or, hell, instant beardification! Because purple monkey dishwasher!

Want to do a joke about how Assassin’s Creed could be more imaginative at the whole time-travel thing? Let’s do a sequence showing assassin astronauts! This is, by the way, the standard Critical Miss set-up: Erin says some random things that are video game related, and then we get a few panels of those random things happening. I think I liked it better when it was called Family Guy.

And, hey, did I mention that the star of the comic is a GIRL? And not just any girl … a GAMER girl! Which means she’s like one of the guys, only with boobs! She’s crass, which means she farts and cusses. But she also talks frankly about sex and feminine hygiene to make all the guys around her uncomfortable. That’s some moxie, amirite fellas? Erin Stout is totally not some sort of wish-fulfillment Mary Sue for gamer guys who are too afraid to approach women unless their speak the girl version of their dorky gamer language! And, man, the jokes really are much funnier because our lead is a female!

Rather than being anything new and fresh about video game webcomics, Critical Miss becomes Exhibit A in everything that’s wrong with them. Toss in some Jack Thompson jokes, a bad attempt at starting a new video game holiday and/or religion, and an unintentionally left turn toward the maudlin, and I think Ctrl+Alt+Del just might have a successor. I’m tempted to say that Critical Miss may have already crossed Buckley’s infamous “Don’t Fuck With Us” line with a painfully pretentious Martin Niemöller-inspired strip, but I couldn’t tell if Carter and Rydell were being serious or not.

Rating: 2 Stars (out of 5)

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About El Santo

Somehow ended up reading and reviewing almost 300 different webcomics. Life is funny, huh? Despite owning two masks, is not actually a luchador.

Posted on December 7, 2010, in 2 Stars, comedy webcomic, The Webcomic Overlook, video game webcomic, WCO Big Review, webcomics and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 33 Comments.

  1. “Cobain fans insist that he would never have played other bands’ songs in real life”

    Just off the top of my head, I know that Cobain played live and recorded a cover of David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World”.

    • Yeah, I found that argument strange too. Unplugged in New York is almost 50% covers, far more than a typical band would have on their seminal live album.

  2. I never understood why this comic won. I suppose it has something to do with none of the judges being known for webcomics that feature astounding art. Because aside from the atrocious jokes, I don’t find Critical Miss’ art to be anything more than poorly drawn page-filler. On the plus side, I don’t think I’ve ever read a comic where the main character beats up a cancer patient.

  3. I guess she figured if she used the same font as Penny Arcade, she could be the next Penny Arcade.

    I like video games, but gamer comics are completely lost on me.

  4. I don’t know why, but the only topic which urges me to comment on this blog is when you’re tackling video game comics, perhaps because they still represent in my mind, despite the more serious efforts out there, the typical fare roped in under the term “webcomic”.

    The key to understanding video game webcomics is that no matter what they say, The Lifestyle Must Never Be Criticized. Penny Arcade, C+A+D, this one, all share the same core characteristic: a shallow level of introspection, for should they delve deeper, they might not like what they would find, and they would alienate their audience in the process. Where I am baffled — or, rather, used to be — was that this comic should appear on The Escapist, seemingly a serious website dedicated to games — but that’s precisely it, seemingly. It features writing that is far above what one expects to find on a gaming website, but then you start to look around it, only to realize that it isn’t much different after all; the forums are the first indication that the audience is the same as all those other gaming sites. Hence all the fluff only tangentially connected to gaming culture published on The Escapist because of its traditional association with nerds.

    There is a website called “Game Journalists are Incompetent Fuckwits” that deals with all the fanboyish aspects of game journalism; I suggest you take a cursory look at it. Cursory, because it gets tedious quickly, not only because it’s a case of shooting fish in a barrel (Kotaku and its ilk), but because its continued existence, and success, proves that things aren’t improving, and that to expect game journalism to change is futile. Gaming sites will continue to get their page hits and their advertising revenue, critics will move on to better things, and the cycle of flashy hype will continue.

    What none of these sites will ever dare address is whether there is a point to gaming, because there is none. Very occasionally will the matter get raised, such as when a news item suggested that a company had told its HR department to turn down World of Warcraft players. Gamers like to win, so they don’t like that; they would much rather prefer mentioning their WoW guild leadership on their resumé. They especially don’t like to be reminded that they’re throwing their lives away.

    You’re right, “Critical Miss” is a good exhibit for what’s wrong with gamer culture: the relish for gratuitous bloodbaths (an infamous parody of C+A+D called “Powerup Comics” played this trope in every strip), the fanboy mentality, the sustained sense of entitlement, the aura of misanthropic cool, the little inside jokes to separate the true gamers from the “filthy casuals”, the paean to vapid consumerism that is their lifestyle, with everything wrapped in a contradictory package of jaded cynicism (see Croshaw, Yahtzee). And by publishing it, The Escapist just revealed that it’s not going to be really bothered with introspection; there’s merchandise to sell, after all.

    • I need a ‘like’ button, or a ‘thumbs up’, or something. Thank you. I will be quoting this.

    • “What none of these sites will ever dare address is whether there is a point to gaming, because there is none.”
      “They especially don’t like to be reminded that they’re throwing their lives away.”

      Please point me to a website that reviews films, television, books or any other medium that talks about how there’s no “point” to it and I’ll get back to you on that. I don’t see why video games, just because you obviously have a low opinion of their target audience, have to admit they’re “wasting their lives” anymore than the average movie-goer.

      If you think the act of playing video games is such a waste of life, maybe you should do some introspection yourself to figure out what the “point” of you writing long diatribes in the comments section of a blog that reviews webcomics is.

      When you get too introspective, at some point you just have to admit that there really isn’t a point to anything.

      • When I think about “the point” of videogames I think of Coke Zero. I have a bottle of it in my refrigerator in case of an emergency. Every so often as I put a carton of leftover takeaway General Tso Chicken into my fridge I will maybe feel a little thirsty and I will see that Coke Zero, with “In Case Of Emergency” written across the label in beautifully runny krink letters.

        I’ve never drank that Coke Zero, because it never really was an emergency, and the more i think about it the more I realize that really it’s NEVER an emergency and it probably never is going to be an emergency, and that bottle of Coke Zero serves to let me know that whether it’s work or play, fighting or fucking, all we ever really do is kill time until time kills us.

        Our hand is seldom truly forced and it is upon us as individuals to decide when it is time for love, time for videogames and time for Coke Zero.

      • No, I guess you could make the same point about listening to opera or reading Proust. But gamers are always the ones giving the impression of thinking they are under siege whenever the subject of the validity of gaming gets raised. One of these examples is the strip pictured above, where the whole debate is turned into a video game fight between the gamer heroine and a clueless grandmother (suggesting in passing that violence against the elderly is fine); in another strip, the heroine is even doing it to Roger Ebert for his assertion that video games are not art.

        This last debate, by the way, is a surefire indication that even gamers need to have their lifestyle externally validated, in this case, by having the object of their fascination consecrated as art. Puccini, Proust, Sid Meier. They want little to do with old curmudgeons like Ebert who “just don’t get it” and will be dead soon anyway.

        The problem with Ebert, however, is that he indeed doesn’t get it. In his pseudo-retraction, he admitted having limited knowledge of video games: “In my actual experience, I have played “Cosmology of Kyoto,” which I enormously enjoyed, and “Myst,” for which I lacked the patience. Both games are from the infancy of the form. I’d played no others because–well, because I didn’t want to.” Those two games, for the record, are from 1995 and 1993, respectively; his “infancy of the form” starts a full 20 years after arcade Pong, and skips over the entire 1980’s with its Ataris and Nintendos. If that theory held for film, anything released prior to 1915 might as well have been sent directly to the garbage bin, which, for that matter, is very much what happened: it is estimated that 90 percent of American silent films are now lost. And 1915, incidentally, was the year the poet Vachel Lindsay published what is regarded as one of the earliest works of film criticism. Its title? The Art of the Moving Picture

        Ebert’s view is further limited by his adherence to traditional narrative considerations, rather than to what probably matters a great deal more in gaming, mechanics. So, unlike Ebert, to the question, “can video games be art?”, by answer is, “yes, they can be”. But gamers’ defense of video games as art always sounds hollow, because I don’t sense that they respect or understand art; all they’re looking for is that lifestyle validation I mentioned above, just as they want to get that well-paying managerial job as a result of their years of experience as a World of Warcraft guild leader. What they don’t realize (or, perhaps, realize subconsciously) is that most of them will be the first to be excluded from the discussion when this happens. It happened with literature. It definitely happened with film. And it will happen with video games. And they definitely won’t be more respected; they’ll be regarded as so much faceless rabble otherwise found engaged in buying tickets to the latest Michael Bay movie.

        For that matter, look how The Escapist blends together elements of the so-called gamer lifestyle in one slick (and, to the uninitiated, impossible to navigate) package. I’ll just quote from their “About” page:

        “Founded in 2005, The Escapist is a leading video gaming destination offering video game enthusiasts high-quality, innovative and exclusive content with a considered approach to its audience. The mouthpiece of the gaming generation, The Escapist aims to capture and celebrate the contemporary video gaming lifestyle and the diverse global video game culture by way of in-depth features, thought provoking articles and relevant columns authored by leading video game authorities, as well as cutting-edge video shorts, engaging forums and robust social media elements that incorporate the video gaming experience. Honored with both a Webby Award and People’s Voice Award in 2008, The Escapist is responsible for the web’s most viewed video game review series, Zero Punctuation, in addition to introducing the first-of-its-kind Internet Film Festival for Gamers and the March Mayhem game developer competition. The Escapist is part of Themis Group, Inc.’s online media arm Themis Media, and currently generates over 25 million page views each month.”

        Celebrate the lifestyle! The video gaming experience! Laden with awards! 25 million page views! (Your Ad Here.) Let’s write this without any German words starting with a Z! It’s forever 1928, jazz is hot, martinis are smooth, Yahtzee is the Mencken of gaming, and stock prices are skyrocketing!

        And, most depressing of all, you know that the collective sobering moment will never take place.

        • I understand your point a bit better now. My main problem was your use of lines like “wasting their life” and such, which to me suggested you were putting yourself in a position of superiority where you had the right to dictate to people what is and isn’t a worthy use of their time. I was probably wrong about that so I’m sorry if it was insulting.
          I consider myself a “gamer” in the respect that I play video games and I have friends who I talk to about video games (among other subjects, of course). I grew up on the NES and the Commodore Amiga. However I try to distance myself from the “gaming culture” as much as I can, because I also greatly dislike what the majority has let it become. I hate the pretentious arty-farty types who want all games to have deep meanings and themes that they can write overly long essays on their blogs about. I hate the retro addicts who seem to think that games should have stopped evolving by the time the NES hit its peak. I hate the “hardcore” gamers who piss all over anyone who hasn’t played Contra and beaten it 10 times in a row while blindfolded. I hate the graphic whores who eat up the same rehashed shit over and over but are apprehensive to accept anything that deviates from their hyper-realistic FPSes and sports sims. These people are obviously all extreme examples, but they’re definitely out there and unfortunately they’re the ones with the loudest voices.
          You know what these types of gamers remind me of? They remind me of hardcore sports fans. Sports don’t matter in the slightest in the long run, but you’ll get plenty of people who can recite endless statistics about their favourite players and willingly shell out their cash to buy up all the merchandise promoting their team of choice that they can carry… But the difference is that society accepts them. Not many people ever question sports fans about their devotion because it’s just the done thing, even if some of them are willing to resort to violence over something as insignificant as a game of football. I think it’s this mainstream acceptance that gamers envy; they want to be able to advertise their hobbies without prejudice and have everyone accept or embrace it. The problem is that gamers have learned the wrong lessons from their sport counterparts, irrationally showering praise on their pastime and building their entire lives around it; instead of just doing it for fun, it has to be a lifestyle choice. It’s true that even today, compared to movies and television, video games are still in that awkward adolescent time where the older generation and those in places of authority don’t understand or outright refuse to understand them… But trying to get that acceptance by acting like a bunch of self-congratulatory frat boys is the wrong way to go about it.

          • Oh, and I forgot to mention: I play video games as well. And not just any video game (I haven’t owned a console in years), but perhaps the most futile of all: MMORPG’s. Where the only definitive “end” is when the publisher pulls the plug on the server, thereby wiping out your entire accomplishments. And which has the unique characteristic of putting you in contact with other gamers not just through forums or websites like The Escapist, but through the game itself.

            I have met great people playing MMORPG’s, and I’m still in contact with some of them, but, for every one of those people, there must have been five whiny brats who follow their own agendas, are incapable of working towards a common goal, and are always looking for the quickest fix to every hurdle, legitimate or not. And that’s not even addressing scammers, gankers and griefers who make it their duty to make your day miserable; in some cases, they will actually justify their behaviour with “it’s just a game, we’re saner than you because we don’t take it seriously”. No kidding. Does it mean that if I’m building a miniature Eiffel Tower with toothpicks, it’s your moral duty to set it on fire?

            And those groups you mention are very real, and I can’t say I like them much. I’m surprised there isn’t much more of a generational rift between the peddlers of 8-bit nostalgia (the Angry Video Game Nerd even managed to make crappy NES games look cool to that crowd) and the wide-eyed teens dismissing the NES as “that old thing” and looking forward to every new graphical innovation (quality of the game: irrelevant, as long as it looks nice); right now, the rift, perhaps a proxy of the above, seems to be between the hardcore and the casual, and I don’t like it any better. In either case, nobody seems particularly concerned with coming up with a video game canon (as every bona fide art form will seek to establish), since they’re always moving on to the next big thing. Happens all the time with MMORPG’s, except, so far, for World of Warcraft. The cycle of hype is endlessly repeated, and nobody ever bothers to stop and reflect on the situation — because they wouldn’t like what they’d find.

          • I also like videogames and enjoy a fun game once in a while.
            Heck, working on Final Fantasy inspired some beautifull Yoshitaka Amano drawings and there is a lot of video game concept art and music that can shame artsy-fartsy galleries or composers.

            However, i agree that hardcore gamers and gamer so called “culture” have a negative impact on an otherwise simple hobby.

            oh yeah .. and that particular webcomic is awful!

  5. That duck hunt strip wasn’t funny at all. I think your mind was slipping when you reached that page el Santo. Maybe all these gaming webcomics are getting to you. I just saw sloppy art with shading learned from an online tutorial and some copy pasted game sprites on the final panel. Where was the joke?

    • It could very well be, Grey. Perhaps I liked it because it rendered one of the most beautifully shot scenes from Bladerunner into something with cheesy aesthetics. Or maybe I was just happy that there was a strip, for once that didn’t have Erin Stout introducing everything with something like, “Did you hear how Game X is going to go old school with pixellated characters? That would be like Blade Runner if they shoehorned Duck Hunt into it” (cue awkward segue!)

  6. You know what bugged me? It was a little thing: when she groped her own boobs to make a point that she was a girl.

    As a female, I have never ever done that, nor would I, nor would any woman I know. It’s completely unnatural and pops out unpleasantly to me, a female reader. I am not obsessed with my own breasts, and I certainly would never grab them like that to make a point that another woman and I were both female. This leads to a complaint of mine whenever I read a comic starring a woman who was written by men who think women are some weird Other Species: the way those female characters are drawn touching their own bodies in a way that the writers might were they trapped in that body. The way they have the female characters talking all about GIRL stuff all the time to really drive the point home, like periods and stuff.

    Believe it or not, women are not first defined by Woman status and are not obsessed with the everyday stuff about being female. We don’t constantly drop hints in conversations to showcase that we are that weird alien species Female! Truth is, we DON’T think about it, because to us it is completely normal.

    It would be like if I drew a guy who was always talking about how his genitals were always getting in the way when he sat down or rode a bike, and gosh, guys think like THIS, and OMG erections! Also, let me grab my own junk to emphasize!

    It’s a phenomenon I see a lot with geeky comics and stories written by guys. Maybe if you guys realized that most females are just people who don’t think about their genders 24/7 just like most guys don’t think about their genders 24/7, women wouldn’t seem so inscrutable to you.

    Just a pet peeve. I’m rambly today…

    • Yeah, that was a facepalm moment for me, too. As was Erin talking about the apparently massive shits she takes. Honestly, how is that even gamer humour? Another thing is that rodent she always has with her but is almost never mentioned by anyone. Apparently it’s supposed to be a rat. I’ve had rats. They don’t look like that.

      • Ha, really? I looked for the rat. I couldn’t find it. O_o

        And, in the strip El Santo linked up there (“sex”), the girls talk about how animal crackers can be better than sex, and the guys at the table get pissy and call their talking the “Vagina Monologues”, the girls’ laughter is labelled “girly”, and they further gross out the guys by talking about having sex with Kratos which makes one guy lose his appetite.

        BUT, for most of the geeks I know, this gross/risque/funny stuff is totally par for the course! Which brings me to ANOTHER peeve with this comic: Erin is OH SO IMPROPER, but the guys are continually humiliated/disturbed/angry about it. Rather than respond with “haha gross but LOL”, you get the feeling that the comic really disapproves of Erin’s “honesty”. Which isn’t progressive at all.

        If you (general “you”, not YOU you) want to claim that ‘hey look how daring we are by having a GIRL be just as gross as any guy haha”, it would probably help if there wasn’t an undercurrent of disapproval from the comic guys, furthering a common geek-belief that women are too pure and to be put on a pedestal to ever really indulge in sexual/gross humor like a guy, and if she does, it’s super-wrong and 1000x more disturbing than the thousands of gross joes male geeks fire off all day.

        Kind of reminds me of the “queef” episode of South Park, where they kind of made the same point about that double standard.

    • “Believe it or not, women are not first defined by Woman status”

      Hell yes it vexes me that people still need to be told that, believe it or not, “woman” is not an actual character trait.

  7. To be fair, it’s on the escapist, so you pretty much know what you’re in for right there.
    Not saying you can’t find anything interesting there, but it’s usually in the form of written reviews, personal thoughts and such. Basically the stuff that their main fanbase wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole.

  8. A comic about gaming that’s not funny?

    shockiiiiing

  9. To be fair, it’s on the escapist, so you pretty much know what you’re in for right there. Not saying you can’t find anything interesting there, but it’s usually in the form of written reviews, personal thoughts and such. Basically the stuff that their main fanbase wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole.

  10. I find a hectic caffeinated approach to life is typical of most gamer webcomics. The genre seems to be defined by a short attention span and a scattergun approach to game released.

    If nothing else this has more of a pop-culture inflection which augments the main attempt at shock value via having a girl gamer as the protagnist.

  11. Like the rest of you, I agree that this comic was mediocre at the time of the review. However, the comic by this time has at least developed into something a bit better. There are actual punch-lines and the art is improved. It probably isn’t still that great for a full-hearted recommendation, but at least its less unbearable.

  12. ChaYaKnowWhat?

    The webcomic was never funny to begin with and now with a sappy serious arc it took recently, it now became even worse than Ctrl Alt Del. Congratulations! Now the WORST WEBCOMIC AWARD can safely reside in the confines of Critical Miss’ awards closet. I hope the damn thing gets cancelled fast. Grey Carter confuses ignorance for hilarity, or talent.

  13. I have to agree with this review. One thing I’m kind of wondering about is why no one mentioned how messed up the faces are in this comic. Everyone has beady little eyes spaced far apart and these huge overbitten mouths that extend past the point they would normally end. They all look weaselly.

  14. If anything, Critical Miss has gotten even worse.

    • As I am not really a follower of The Escapist in general anymore, are there any particular pearls from this comic that you could link to as evidence? I simply can’t picture it becoming worse than it was.

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