Liberator is a comic that grabbed my attention right from the launch of its Kickstarter campaign. Spearheaded by animal rights activist Matt Miner, Liberator is a series about a masked superhero style activist who, under cover of nightfall, goes out and helps free dogs who are being mistreated. Miner himself actually uses all of his profits from the comic for dog rescue work, which should tell you all you need to know about how truly sincere the comic is.
The issue opens at night with the protagonist Damon Guerrero breaking into a building to free a pair of dogs. The segment has no dialogue but has plenty of narration through captions. The voiceover is filled with venom as he describes the type of people who have abused dogs. It’s the kind of hate that has real punch behind it; you can almost hear the disgust. But there’s also a great flow to it. It comes across as the controlled rage of an intelligent passionate person, rather than uncontrolled anger for anger’s sake. The presentation is also fantastic. The comic’s tense opening gives way to the title credits before jumping to the next day. It’s a cinematic effect that works wonderfully to evoke the feeling of watching a movie or the opening episode of a new TV show. Afterwards we get more of a look at Damon’s life and meet the supporting cast. He comes across as quite a likable character throughout the issue. Unshakable in his convictions, he’s also a nice guy who steps in the way of his co-workers sexist attitude.
Javier Sanchez Aranda is on art duties and very professionally pulls it off. I found myself lingering on any panel that has a dog included just admiring how very lifelike and full of personality they are. Obviously a book about rescuing dogs needs to be able to capture their appearance and it’s masterfully done here. That’s not to say that the other areas are weaker, because they aren’t. Facial expressions of the characters are equally as expressive but my only complaint is occasionally the detail on them drops quite considerably on very rare panels. However it’s not something that disrupts the flow of the story and far more often than not everything is rendered with great detail. Joaquin Pereyra brings everything to life with colours. The colour choices mesh perfectly with the pencils, the night scenes look suitably atmospheric while the daylight scenes are very warm and bright.
Some of the scenes of animal cruelty are a little difficult to look at. But I understand and agree with the choice to include them. They made me uncomfortable but in a way that they should, the actions are supposed to be horrific and the art does that justice. It’s the brutal realism that matches the tone of the comic and makes it even easier to empathise with the characters. Whether you personally consider yourself an activist or not, it’s impossible not to feel something.
Overall, this is a very strong opening issue. The script has a feeling of refinement to it, you can tell a lot of work has gone into ensuring this book is of the highest quality. Furthermore the artwork is equally impressive. The subject matter is handled exceptionally well too, this isn’t a book that sugar coats the truth but it doesn’t glorify or exaggerate it either. If you’re not an animal lover then you can still appreciate the comic for what it is: an entertaining well written story with realistic characters and real heart. However if you do love animals then you’ll connect to them even more. The bottom line is, you should read this.
The comic hits stores on June 19th. Altogether it’ll be a 4 issue mini-series. If you want to know more you can ask writer Matt Miner himself on Twitter at @MattMinerXVX.