The first issue of the Animal Liberation Front-inspired comic book, Liberator, hits shelves today. Check it out for pages of awesome animal fury against cruel anthropocentrists.
Liberator #1 [Black Mask Studios, 2013] is about two activists—one who puts her freedom on the line by committing civil disobedience, and one who works underground, running an autonomous campaign of liberation and sabotage against dog fighting rings and fur farmers. Security culture, tactical diversity, shitty coworkers, asshole cops, explosions—Liberator seems to have it all. It’s refreshing to see a comic hero fighting for something I care about, rather than protecting the financial security of the rich and middle class. The comic world hasn’t had anything approaching this since Grant Morrison’s Animal Man chickened out during a laboratory arson.
The art, with illustrations by Javier Sanchez Aranda and coloring by Joaquin Pereyra, is lively and engaging, if a little more technophilic than I would have expected from such a niche publication. But where Liberator really sets itself apart is with its writing. In a medium dense with mutations and magic, Matt Miner presents us with a new kind of hero. Damon, the protagonist, is a barista by day and an almost Travis Bickle-like ski mask-donning animal rescuer by night.
Despite the class issues hinted at in the first issue—Damon is a skinny, urban, iPad-wielding vegan battling “alcoholics, drug addicts,” rural folk, and urban poor—one can’t help but feel immense joy when he sets a dogfighting ring on fire in the opening pages (the precious pups safely whisked away to new homes, of course). And though the gender-oriented comparison of passive civil disobedience (feminine) and active sabotage (masculine) approaches to animal liberation is a bit troubling, the fact that compartmentalization of tactics is demonstrated serves as a decent lesson in security culture for underground action. It’s also nice to see Damon’s macho dogmatism challenged during a street-side interaction. Not many writers would show this side of their hero (even if he does find release in a righteous bro-down, complete with the emasculation of his adversary, shortly thereafter). This is, after all, just the first in a four-part series, and I hope to see further exploration of Damon’s hypermasculine attitude in the following issues.
Comic books have always had the power to make the impossible and outlandish seem attainable, allowing us to get lost in vibrant fantasy. Following in this tradition, Liberator helps to bridge the gap between superherodom and ourselves. Damon doesn’t do anything that any of us couldn’t, a fact which makes his acts all the more extraordinary. Let’s get some inspiration from this masked vigilante and challenge ourselves to see what extraordinary acts of criminal beauty we can commit.
[The Earth First! Journal Collective accepts no legal responsibility if you do something amazing and some jerk gets what they have coming, even if you do it in an ill-fitting Batman suit.]