(Black Mask Studios, 2014)
Created by Matt Miner
Written by Matt Miner and Earth Crisis
Pencils and Inks by Javier Sanchez Aranda
Colors by Joaquin Pereyra
Extras Art by Kathryn Mann
Cover by Rod Reis
Liberator/Earth Crisis: Salvation of Innocents is not your everyday comic book. As of yet, I have seen no spandex. There are grim realties at work and yet no pointy-eared and cloaked figure stepping from the shadows to knock the pistol out of the mugger’s hand, or a giant anvil in ethereal green light that appears in the nick of time to crush the detonator button. This is a more reality-based book than you’re used to reading.
If you haven’t caught up yet, Matt Miner (Occupy Comics) first introduced Liberator as a Kickstarter last year, a four-issue arc that introduced animal cruelty and activism into mainstream comics. It followed a young woman who spent her evenings rescuing animals from cruel situations. Dressed in dark clothing and armed with a sledgehammer, non-violent (toward the living), she found ways to protect those creatures that could not protect themselves.
In the second series, Salvation of Innocents, Miner and Co. continue in the same vein, though this time he shows the birth of an activist, someone who stood on the sidelines until they were personally affected, then decided to do something about it. Sarah is a custodian at a research facility, and has seen first-hand the way the animals are treated. Her particular connection with a monkey that she names Darby forces her to act.
This is where Miner gives some insight into the motives behind animal activism and the reasons it sometimes escalates into violence.
The portrayal of the scientists works for the story. Dr. Reznik is every bit the sadist, the evil scientist (complete with Slavic accent) from a James Bond film. The qualms you would expect from any human being when it comes to the rights of another living creature are completely absent. And for the animal rights case, this is exactly the kind of villain that is needed. Sarah is pushed to the brink by Reznik. It makes her act in a way that she normally wouldn’t, and in the process she saves some animals.
Javier Sanchez Aranda (Star Trek NG:Ghosts, Marksmen) and Joaquin Pereyra (Gateway, Liberator) keep the pressure up with intensely graphic images of gutted and disfigured animals. It gets the blood boiling in such a way that makes this feel, along with the accompanying story, like propaganda. Which it totally is. If you can get through this book without being affected by the images there must be some sociopathic tendencies in your psychic makeup. It’s startling and horrible every time, and despite the fact that up until now the hero keeps winning, you still feel a little hollow at the end of it. That’s because it’s based in truth. Reality has crept into comic books just as comic books have crept into reality. And in this case, more than with real life vigilantes like Phoenix Jones, the reality in the comic is far more stark, far more serious, and far more deadly.
Liberator/Earth Crisis: Salvation of Innocents is more than a comic book. It’s a protest.
Brad Gischia is a writer and artist living in the frozen Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He is married and has three kids and a dog, who all put up with his incessant prattling about comic books.