Review–Black Mask Studios’ Liberator packs a powerful punch

Liberator Issue 1 cover

Although the mainstream and critics will likely ignore Black Mask Studio’s new four-issue mini-series Liberator because it deals with politics head-on, it should be on your list of the best comics of 2013.  Fully funded from a successful Kickstarter campaign, with profits going to animal advocacy causes, Liberator puts its money where its mouth is, centering on two realistic heroes approaching their noble and hard-fought causes in different ways.  If you’re tired of the same old superhero vigilante with little but blowing up alien worlds at stake, maybe Liberator’s tantalizing tagline will help pull you in: “Real heroes don’t wear capes… they wear ski masks.”

Liberator art from Matt Miner website

Writer Matt Miner follows Damon, a coffee shop worker who is willing to break the law for what he believes in.  No one knows that Damon is behind the blown up buildings in the newspaper.  He works in shadows and secret.  And you will cheer him on.  Damon doesn’t buy into the methods of Jeanette, who is an activist, in the open, often getting arrested for her public protests and acts of civil disobedience.  Jeanette follows the playbook of more mainstream advocacy groups, where Damon belongs to no group, and is willing to go places advocacy groups will not tread.  But both Damon and Jeanette believe in the same result, working for the true underdogs, and doing whatever is necessary along the way to right wrongs where they still can.

Liberator art

Issue #1 of Liberator is a complex story plunging readers into the depths of good and evil, where bad guys are part of life every day.  But Miner and artist Javier Sanchez Aranda cut through the shades of gray, giving their edgy heroes a true purpose and an unflinching zeal that comes through on each page.  When the stakes are life and death, it’s “do or do not.”  Aranda’s art balances the necessary in-your-face violence required of the story and yet his reserved style never takes visuals too far.

Liberator Issue 0

Liberator is the kind of series that makes you wish Matt Miner was writing Animal Man or Green Arrow, historically progressive character books that lately have gone mainstream despite characters that could be so much edgier.  And it poses questions and offers a level of emotion we haven’t seen since Grant Morrison’s brilliant series WE3.  We just wish we hadn’t missed out on Issue #0.

Liberator Issue #1 is in comic book stores this week.

C.J. Bunce

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