Webcomic / Critical Miss
, previously known as Out of Tens
, is a gaming webcomic by Cory Rydell and Grey Carter, hosted at The Escapist
. The winner of a webcomic contest hosted on the site in 2010.
The story follows Erin Stout, a game reviewer who writes for the website "Little Miss Critical
'', and her co-workers, which include Erin's partner, Elliot Clutch
, her boss, Sharon
, and a ton of minor characters
. Although the comic focuses mainly on video games, a few have to do with movies and various other topics.
A spinoff, titled Erin Dies Alone
, has launched. It deals with an alternate Erin who spends her life trapped in her own apartment, with only hallucinations of her favorite videogame characters for company. Unlike Critical Miss
, Erin Dies Alone
has a much
darker sense of humour and is more character-based.
This webcomic contains examples of:
- Adaptational Attractiveness: Characters in A Song of Ice and Fire get wounded and scarred, sometimes hideously so. Not so in the HBO adaptation.
- After the End: The Children of Steam story arc.
- Ambiguous Disorder, Sanity Slippage and Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Guess which site the psychiatrist is using to diagnose Erin here. It's not WebMD. Thus we disappear into a self-referential loop.
- American Kirby is Hardcore: Predicted with ICO HD. For those not familiar, have a look at the original European◊ and American◊ covers.
- And That Would Be Wrong/Shutting Up Now: Making a joke about a colleague who died in a landslide of shovelware, Erin immediately backpedals.
- Art Evolution: Erin looks very different in the first strips than in the latest ones.
- Author Avatar:
- Bad Boss: Played with. It seems Sharon may actually be quite a nice boss... to anyone who isn't Erin. Though if this is true, it may be a bit of a case of Characterization Marches On, given that some of Sharon's earlier Bad Boss tendencies seemed quite general rather than targeted at Erin.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: 3D Sonic games.
- Bears are Bad News: Subverted with Charles, who works with Erin. He gets offended when she plays Naughty Bear, saying that having a bear protagonist killing other bears is discriminatory garbage.
Charles: This isn't a game, Stout. You know what this is? This is bearsploitation. And you're legitimizing it by playing it.
Erin: (Don't laugh. Don't laugh. Don't laugh.)
- Bottom of the Barrel Joke: When all else fails, go back to mocking too-serious Neon Genesis Evangelion fans.
- Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: According to the pie chart here, user-generated emblems in Call of Duty: Black Ops are all skulls, dicks, or skulls with dicks on them.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall:
- Came Back Wrong: What happens when application files are undeleted in the TRON 'verse.
- Canada, Eh?: Averted: Erin is Canadian. She emphatically does not embody this trope.
- Played straight in this oneshot, however.
- Cat Fight: Between Mol and Erin (when Erin goes to destroy Elliot's Xbox 360 - Kratos told her to) in their underwear. Elliot sits back and enjoys it for a while, until it goes too far and Erin throws the Xbox at Mol's head.
- Cerebus Syndrome: Lampshaded on the "Chapter 2" title page, which pokes fun at strip's recent developments (sex drama, mental illness, et cetera) with band posters for Miscarriage Arc, who are opening for Cerberus Syndrome.
- Commie Nazis: How do you make the Helghast of Killzone even more evil-looking? By adding Stalin and Hitler. No, wait, Stalin and two Hitlers! No, wait, Stalin, two Hitlers, and Flaming Eyes of Doom in a sea of Hellfire! That should look evil enough.
- Yeah, three Hitlers would just have been silly.
- The Corrupter: As of the "Up Up Down Down" arc, Young Erin, who had Link act as a Well-Intentioned Extremist just so that she can get control over Erin's actions.
- Crush Blush: Erin sports one here, though that might just be the alcohol.
- Cut-and-Paste Environments: Erin comes across this in Dragon Age.
- Deep-Immersion Gaming
- Description Cut: Journalistic integrity!
- Disappeared Dad: Mini-Moll father ran out on Moll when he learned she was pregnant.... And when Erin ran him over with a lawn mower. We're not sure which happened first.
- Distracted By The Graphics: Gran Turismo 5's graphics are so awesome that Erin can't stay on the road.
- Double Meaning Title: Part reference to Critical Failure; part (as made clear by the blog-within-a-blog's title) that Erin is Little Miss Critical. And hell, why not, maybe it's a pun on "critical mass" for some reason.
- Double Standard: Erin's reason for why a Warhammer 40,000 MMO wouldn't work, because girl gamers would all want to be Space Marines, which are male-only in that setting.
- Do You Want to Copulate?: Erin comes out and expresses her desire rather bluntly, after her previous flirting attempts fall flat.
- Eating the Eye Candy: While watching the series of Game of Thrones, Erin's complaints of there not being enough dragons are overruled by Khal Drogo's arse.
- 8.8: Parodied in "The Sacrificial Lamb" when the crew are confronted with the Morton's Fork of reviewing Grand Theft Auto V. They ultimately decide to get Elliot to do it.
- Facepalm: Sharon and Clutch share a double-facepalm at Erin's response to Sensitivity Training.
- Fanservice: During the series of strips where Mol and Erin are running around in their underwear, it is implied that the strip's creators received feedback complaining that both characters were clad in plain, white and conservative items. A strip towards the end of this mini arc then had the underpants of both characters change pattern and colour for each and every panel. Happy now?
- Feathered Fiend: Seagullus, scourge of the kitchen table!
- Filler Strips: Has the occasional "Lazy Grey Art Day", consisting of a single panel of art. Subverted in that the art is always high quality.
- Five Stages of Grief: Erin goes through them for Mass Effect 3, particularly the ending. Except there's no acceptance and more depression.
- Foreshadowing: The guy Erin meets at the bar refers to growing up in his uncle's house, which is small and with little money. Remind you of anything?
- Also when the character is introduced he is seen wearing a white undershirt with a green t-shirt over it and a long green hat.
- Gag Penis: It represents graphics cards, ranked by power, getting bigger with each more powerful card. By the time you get to Quad-SLI, you have entered H-anime territory with schoolgirls and many tentacled horrors.
- Gamer Chick: Erin, though downplayed and deconstructed. Being a gamer is a large part of Erin character, and she happens to be female. But she is not particularly fanservicey, she is as socially awkward as many gamers (regardless of gender,) and she is not shown as anything particularly special because of this.
- Gaussian Girl: Erin tries to pull this off in the third panel of this strip. Her drunken ineptitude at flirting spoils the effect immediately after though.
- Gender-Blender Name: Erin speculates that resident cynical, chain-smoking, alcoholic, English misanthrope Ashley is that way mainly because of his name. And she may be right; he gets made fun of even by random monsters in WoW.
- Good Angel, Bad Angel: When Erin asks how to make her console-playing friends see the error of their ways, Sora from Kingdom Hearts suggests friendship and that you can't force them to change their opinions. Erin takes that as Plan A and asks Kratos from God of War for a Plan B. The next panel is her ripping Elliot's Xbox 360 from the TV.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: The rating board at the ESRB seem to be stuck in this.
- Gratuitous Foreign Language: Moll is Welsh, and occasionally peppers her speech with Welsh phrases.
- In this strip, Erin's player character in LotR:Online does this, in Elvish.
- Grenade Spam: Parodied in "The Stoning of Saint Bluntninja".
- Has Two Mommies: Mini-Moll appears to. Moll is a single-mother who's boyfriend left her after she got pregnant, and Erin is her Heterosexual Life-Partner who serves as a Parental Substitute to her daughter, though less "Parent" than "Cool Aunt".
- Head Pet: Suchong, Erin's pet fancy rat.
- Heartbreak and Ice Cream: One of the Five Stages of Grief for the Mass Effect 3 ending involves this in a bathtub.
- Helpful Hallucination: After a car accident in "Stowaways", Erin is talking to hallucinations of videogame characters, with Zelda's Link appearing to be a kind of "spirit guide". Possibly. Though how "helpful" they are is debatable, especially to Erin herself.
- Hermaphrodite: Erin in the Graphics Cards Comparisons comic.
- Heroic Mime: Erin's hallucination of Link uses a whiteboard instead of talking. She lampshades this, noting he spoke in the CDI games and the cartoon, to which Link replies that they sucked. At one point, he pretends to be a random bystander worried about the crazy girl at the bar, and she doesn't realize he's a hallucination since he's perfectly willing to talk her ear off.
- Hypocrite: When a game you like has been accused of racism or sexism, do not resort to refuting arguments against it with actual racism or sexism.
- Hypocritical Humor:
- I Know Mortal Kombat: Erin wants to show people that, even though she reviews games for a living, she has "life skills". She does this by helping an old lady cross the street. By repeatedly suplexing her.
- I Need a Freaking Drink
- Insult to Rocks: After comparing Aliens: Colonial Marines to a drawing from a five year-old, this is put in The Rant:
The comparison in today's strip isn't entirely fair. Children's drawings do tend to display a degree of imagination and enthusiasm. Aliens: Colonial Marines boasts neither.
- Irony: "Six different levels" of it, when playing Dead Rising 2 with Jesus.
- I Was Young And I Needed The Money: The Darkness apparently took a roll playing a Naughty Tentacle in an old H-Game.
- The Juggernaut: Minecraft and diamonds.
- Just Here for Godzilla: Erin just watches Free! for the nearly-naked swimmers.
- Knight in Sour Armor: Erin regards the world with practiced cynicism, but it is only skin deep and easily punctured when she finds something to get genuinely excited about.
- Knocking on Heathens' Door: Erin keeps the door-to-door missionaries away with Breaking Bad spoilers.
- Let's Split Up, Gang: Marcus Fenix and his squad of Scoobies know how to get it done.
- Lightning Glare: Between Nintendo and Rovio.
- Love Is in the Air: Just make sure the pheromones you are releasing are tailored for the proper species.
- Magic Skirt: Erin's skirt is gravity defying, which is odd considering the creators haven't had a problem showing her underwear in previous strips. this is the strip. Three explanations exist for this: One, the skirt is spandex/similarly stretchy. Two, the artist forgot. Or three: It's another indication that this is all happening inside Erin's head. The skirt is the least implausible of the unlikely physics of pushing someone out of a window and then catching her by the ankle the way it was shown. She also rotated 180 degrees in the air, and is supported by only one ankle for half that scene.
- Magnificent Bastard: Playing Rust makes you feel like one.
- Mama Bear: She ran over Moll's boyfriend, with a lawnmower, when he ran out on her when he learned she was pregnant.
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Called out by name in the strip creatively entitled "Manic Pixie Dream Girl". Erin is not happy to have competition for the Cast Speciation.
- Murder Is the Best Solution: Often recommended to Erin by some of her more Sociopathic Hero Helpful Hallucinations.
- Mushroom Samba: Tripping balls in "Fear and Loathing in New Vegas".
- Nerdgasm: Erin gets one of these when she goes to buy new computer hardware, asking the sales person to "talk dirty" to her. Complete with an expression of blissful Squee! at the end.
- Nosebleed / Deadly Nosebleed: Best not to confuse one for the other.
"Well how the fuck was I supposed to know he was actually having a brain hemorrhage!?"
- Nice Hat: Seems Erin considers this to be the source of Yahtzee's power, so she decides to one-up him.
- Nightmare Fetishist: Scary Penny, Erin's graphic artist. If you tell her a character from a cartoon show from your childhood, she'll draw a picture of Nathan Fillion having sex with it.
- "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: Seen here while trying (and failing) to satirize a quote by the executive producer of The War Z.
- Not What It Looks Like: Seems to be what the gagged victim in this Thief comic is trying to say when a guard catches Garret robbing him.
- Off Model: Played for laughs in Lanespotting, which shows Grey being too enamored with DOTA 2 to proofread the strip.
- One of Us:
- It's an exclusive gang.
- In the strip Consensus (3rd April 2012) Erin comments that throwing an Xbox 360 at her friend will "look terrible on my TV Tropes page".
- Or Was it a Dream?: It's not clear how real Erin's hallucinations are. Not only can they plan and act independently of her, but at one point she throws one out the window of a moving car, and a truck seems to run over something invisible. It is possible she may have some dissociative disorder contributing to this.
- Overprotective Dad: Inverted with Mortal Kombat's Shao Khan. You're not going out dressed like that, young lady! Take some clothes off!
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Very effectively done, since not only did Erin not see through the disguise, neither did the audience. All Link had to do was change into civilian clothes and start talking and no one could recognize him.
- Pass the Popcorn: Elliot pops the cork in a bottle of wine while texting Ash as Erin and Moll Cat Fight.
Ashley: ... Nice.
- Recap Strip: The Guest Strip "Previously On Critical Miss" by Henry Huang serves as one.
- Save Scumming: How Erin plays Harder Than Hard games on the PC.
- Scrabble Babble: Erin accuses The Dragonborn of it. Unfortunately FUS RO DAH is another trope.
- Schrödinger's Cat: When Slut-Shaming and You Need to Get Laid exist in superposition.
- Self-Deprecation: The life of a videogames journalist.
My name is Erin Stout and I review videogames on the internet. Yes, the internet. I can feel your awe.
- Serious Business: FarmVille will destroy gaming! Casual gamers will rise up against "hardcore" gamers! No.
- Shout-Out: The little sentences under each comic is a shout out, usually (if not always) to a song lyric.
- Speech-Bubbles Interruption: Erin gets distracted from her moping.
- Story Arc: "Children of Steam", taking place in a post-apocalyptic-like scenario caused when Gabe Newell shuts down Steam because of all the fat jokes at his expense. Also, "God Emperor of Steam", its finale. After that is the "Stowaways" arc, which segues into "Chapter 2: Up, up, down, down".
- Strawman Fallacy: Self-referentially averted in "Reasonable Comcis for Reasonable People".
- Suddenly Voiced: The reason Link's Paper-Thin Disguise works as well as it does; he never spoke prior to dressing casually and that throws people off.
- Take That!: Pretty much the entire point of the comic, as Erin is extremely critical. A few examples:
- Teen Pregnancy: Per Word of God in The Rant, Moll was a teenager when she gave birth to Mini-Moll.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Beneath this comic, Grey writes "A couple of weeks back we ran five strips on consecutive days. Contrary to our expectations, that brave experiment did not end with one of us dead and another in police custody."
- The Gadfly: Moll and a lot of others "Game of Thrones" book readers according to this strip.
- The Theme Park Version: Time sanitizes everything, be it The Shinsengumi or (eventually) the holocaust.
- Too Many Belts: Princess Evelyn from Trinity Factor Saga, who even has them around her thighs.
- Too Much Information: Some people manage to keep their tales of weapons-grade bowel movements to themselves. Not here.
- Too Smart for Strangers: Erin apparently pays attention to those after-school specials. Who knew?
- Troll: Justice Scalia. Interestingly enough, Rachel Maddow has the same view of him.
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Erin.
- Unwanted Assistance: "You just got Mario sucked into a black hole, a gateway to the dark void between realities, where he will be tortured forever. That is not helping. That is the opposite of helping."
- The Voiceless: Scary Penny.
- Wham Episode: The "Stowaways" storyline. Surprisingly sombre in comparison to the wackiness of previous strips, and resulted in a permanent change in the comic's dynamic.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Erin seems to believe she's the resident Manic Pixie Dream Girl. She is not.
- Xtreme Kool Letterz: These upset Erin. "It's just my English gland."
- You're Not My Father: Kitana to Shao Khan, after he tells her that he doesn't want her fighting in anything more than "two strips of leather held tenuously together by wishful thinking".
- You Are Fat: "Call Me Ishmael"
- You Need to Get Laid: Erin has this opinion about Shinji.
- Your Mom: "According to Call of Duty: Black Ops players, your mom has apparently slept with an average of 23 different men in the last 48 hours."
- She also shouts this at Bastion when she doesn't get Play of the Game.