Jeanette and Sarah are animal rights activists. They risk everything every time they go out on a direct action to destroy records, liberate animals and keep humanity’s worst instincts in check.
There is a price for this work. It’s a price they’ve paid over and over. They’re about to pay it again.
Matt Miner‘s storied and versatile comics career began with Liberator, a four part series introducing this world. The lead there, Damon Guerrero, surfaces here older and more cautious if not wiser. However, the stage here belongs to Jeanette and Sarah, the stars of sequel series Critical Hit. Pushed to the limit by circumstances the pair found themselves forced, and able, to do more than they ever thought ,possible. As this story picks up, they’re making their peace with that. It’s going surprisingly well too. Which is of course when Matt pulls the rug out from under them.
Lab Raider is the next logical evolution of this world and it’s one that Matt delivers with his trademark combination of violence, deadpan humor and emotion. Neither of these women want to be where they are, or rather, are comfortable where they are. However, they trust their own internal moral compasses and that’s what the series is clearly going to be based around. They are faced with something unprecedented, something where there’s no right answer. This is going to end badly for everyone it’s just a matter of who gets the worst of it and based on previous experience Jeanette and Sarah have some ideas about that.
The script crackles along with action, intent and some moments of perfectly timed and realized quiet that give a sense of massive space and a chance to grab your breath. That’s down to Matt and the extraordinary art team aboard, starting with Creees Lee. Making masked, hooded leads distinguishable from one another is quite an achievement and the first of many here. Those quiet moments pop especially well but everything about the book is shot through with character. I especially liked Jeff, Sarah’s perky on site contact and the moments of downtime between operations. Matt never lets us or these characters forget how difficult their landscape is to navigate and this is no exception. Matt Krotzer’s lettering plays an important role here too, giving each voice a distinctive tone and Josh Jensen’s colors impress throughout. The dark purples and blues of the lab, and the striking colors of the dumpster fire sequence especially.
Lab Raider is socially conscious horror driven by its characters and defined by their actions. It’s instantly recognizable as a Matt Miner book. Uniquely voiced, uniquely angry and breaking ground I’ve never sen broken this way before, it’s a winner/