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"Lab Raider #1" Comic Review

Written by James Ferguson

Published by Black Mask Studios

Lab Raider 1 00

Written by Matt Miner
Illustrated by Creees Lee
Colored by Josh Jensen
Lettered by Matt Krotzer
2019, 32 Pages, $3.99

Review:

Jeanette and Sarah are fighting for animal rights; not with protests or lobbying Congress, but with a sledgehammer and their fists. We've already seen how far they're willing to go in Critical Hit, but Lab Raider takes them on a darker journey. When they break into a lab performing tests on animals, they discover something horrifying.

I told you that because it's public knowledge. This is part of the hook of Lab Raider and it's even in the solicitation information. I get it. That's what you have to do to get people interested. That being said, I wish it was kept a secret, as it's a pretty big reveal at the end of this issue. I won't spoil the full details, but it's something truly bizarre and more than a little disturbing.

Lab Raider 1 01
Click images to enlarge

Letterer Matt Krotzer delivers the solid internal narration of the two protagonists as they make their way through the lab. It's interesting to see how they're questioning what they're doing, justifying their actions. The placement of these caption boxes is spot on, guiding us through each room as things get more and more harrowing.

The path to the big reveal takes jumps and turns as writer Matt Miner fills us in on what Jeanette and Sarah have been up to, jumping from the past to the present to the farther past. These different narratives never get confusing or complicated. It's easy to follow each thread and see how they're influencing one another. We start to put together the overall picture and see how these events can have some pretty shocking consequences.

Lab Raider 1 02
Click image to enlarge

Much of this comes through in Josh Jensen's colors. The tone of each scene is defined early on based on the lighting. There's a creepy vibe as Jeanette and Sarah stalk through the lab with shadows looming everywhere. Dark blues surround them and the only brightness comes from their flashlights, casting an iridescent glow on whatever they touch. Contrast this with the scenes from the past where they're out in the day under the light of the sun. Those were simpler and happier times, more carefree than what they're dealing with now.

Artist Creees Lee conveys emotion well, even when the girls' faces are partially covered in bandanas. You can see the intensity of their actions as they destroy this lab and right a wrong. The lighter scenes are not without their emotional beats. There are some great moments where a single glance says so much, as you read concern and worry on someone's face.

Lab Raider 1 03
Click image to enlarge

The pacing in Lab Raider is excellent, as you're essentially waiting for another shoe to drop. You know it's going to take a turn. You just don't know when or how. This makes the more violent sequences all the more shocking, as they come out of nowhere.

Lab Raider takes a big jump into horror by the end of this first issue. It puts the topic of animal rights front and center with a frightening take on it that, in the scheme of things, doesn't seem all that farfetched. That's what makes this a scary comic. It is dangerously close to real possibilities.

Grades:

Story: Fourstars Lab Raider 1 Cover
Tfaw Buy Button
Art: Fourandahalfstars
Overall: Fourstars

About The Author
Spez Bio 2
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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