(Black Mask, 2013)
Review by Cory Thrall
CREATED & WRITTEN BY: Matt Miner
ARTWORK BY: Javier Sanchez Aranda
COLOR ARTWORK BY: Joaquin Pereyra
LETTERED & EDITED BY: Vito Delsante
In Brad Gischia’s review of “Liberator” #1 (linked below) the scope and importance of this title was established and explained in perfect detail, from the real life activism of creator and writer Matt Miner, to the realities of the situations displayed in the comic backed by amazingly intelligent articles at the end of the issue. This is a comic that tells a whole new story, and a much needed one. An incredibly important and largely overlooked ‘issue’ – the systematic torture and mistreatment of animals of all kinds. This title is an awesome jumping on point for anyone interested in any sort of activism, and each issue has left me with the strong want to go out and make some noise in regards to animal rights. Because they don’t really have any. Because protections in place don’t protect enough, and they never have. Bard’s review covered this in such a perfect way that with this look at issue #2 I’ll be focusing on the comic at hand. Matt Miner is a hell of a guy, and a smart person who cares enough about animals and their varied plights to put that mind to some far reaching amazing work. But, he is also a damn good writer, and this – in turn – is a damn good comic.
The main character here is Damon, a coffee shop worker who is constantly bullied by his fellow co-worker, and seems completely detached from his ‘real life’. This might have something to do with the fact that at night Damon dons a black suit and hood, doing recon and planning for abusers to shut down. He is no violent vigilante, as he tries to make sure either no one is at the spot, or that the security, etc. has some distance from his activity. This shows a good weight to his character, as while he finds humans putting their needs before the rights of animals horrible and something to be stopped cold, he also has a set of values that keeps him from crossing any scary lines. Where a lot of comics would take a more violent approach, Miner’s characters use stealth and subtlety to get to the people and places they need to. The care Damon has in how he does things is apparent and carries over each mission he takes on. He really is a true hero, in every sense of the word. “Real heroes don’t wear capes”, indeed!
As hinted by the first issue, he is finally joined by his new partner Jeanette – a friend of Damon’s and an activist wanting to do more than just hold signs and yell during protests – and the way this is set-up is so flawless and easy going that it works from the very second they meet up. The fact that they found each other as she was casing the same place as Damon instantly cements their bond, and from here out the duo they’ve built is perfectly paced with dialogue that is snappy and witty without being only that. These two are like two beams of light in the dark around them, kindred souls bent on pure good. With quips about who’s the Batman or Robin down to Jeanette’s suggestion that they are more like Nightwing and Batgirl gives them some grounding in our reality, and this makes the story even more poignant as this all through the eyes of the two, and will hopefully transfer to the reader themselves. It’s a nice touch, and one that I hope is as effective to others as it should be.
The artwork by Javier Sanchez Aranda is such a treat, and matches the tone of Miner’s work in ways that are unexpected and rare in today’s comicsverse. From a simple exchange between characters to the horrible and tragic shots of animals being harmed and in turmoil, the artwork keeps the tone consistently dark, while not letting that get in the way of a well told story. The art flows very well, and is very strong and iconic. You know these characters from the get-go, and their look is seamless throughout. This comic covers a good amount of ground as far as locations and scenes go, and Aranda seems to be at home rendering any locale, situation, or emotion. For such a heartfelt comic, his work feels just as caring, with writer and artist conveying the importance of such a title. So much heart and love is put into this. The page reaches out and slaps you awake to the atrocities put upon animal kind, all for the many excused and hidden reasons that put these type of things into action – human greed and twisted individuals supplying the need to continue such acts.
While “Liberator” is for and full of a very serious and dangerously important cause, it’s also a title that has a story so effortless and full of love that it takes the reader right into the protagonists mind-set. With projects such as this one can only hope that it will get to the ‘right’ people, and change some minds. Or, at least open some minds to the struggle to end such practices. Hell, I sincerely hope it gets its readers involved in some form of activism. This comic is as punk rock as they come (and I don’t say this just because of the Minor Threat lyrics quoted in #2, though that was awesome!), and in a perfect world would start a trend towards more titles such as this. And, I really feel this has the power to do so. I believe in this comic, and what it stands for, much as I believe in the work of Matt Miner and what he stands for. Mix this all together with an outstanding creative team, and you have one of the best comics on the shelf right now. Seriously. If this comic doesn’t open a mass of eyes to the problems we face in this area and why it shouldn’t be at all like it is, then maybe nothing will. Get this, read it, grab a couple extra copies and share it. Get it in the hands of as many as you can and lets see if we can’t wake the world up a bit to the disgusting practices we allow too many companies and farming communities to perpetuate. It’s change that’s a long time coming.
* You can read Brad Gischia’s review of “Liberator” #1 here: https://bagandbored.net/2013/06/14/review-liberator-1/
* You can get your mitts on a copy of #1 and #2 from Black Mask here: http://kingsroadmerch.com/black-mask-studios/
Follow Cory Thrall on Twitter: @FeralFang27