by Brian Truitt)
Any animal lover with a dog, cat, hamster, rabbit or other pet in their life can probably connect to Liberator differently than most comic books.
The first collection Liberator: Rage Ignition, out Wednesday, collects the first four-issue miniseries that introduces ski-masked vigilantes Jeanette Francis and Damon Guerrero who avenge abused animals, shut down dog-fighting rings, wreck fur farms and deal harsh justice to anyone who dares harm an innocent creature.
The volume also includes a series of short stories by some of the comics industry's top talent including Alex De Campi (Grindhouse), Ales Kot (Zero), Tim Seeley (Revival), Ed Brisson (Sheltered), Frank Barbiere (Five Ghosts) and Adam Egypt Mortimer (Ballistic).
So far, Liberator has been exactly what creator — and real-life dog rescuer — Matt Miner wanted from its infancy: to bring new people into comic shops while also giving existing teachers a new type of hero.
"I knew that, done right and not in a preachy way, people who read and enjoy stories about someone like Batman, a dude who puts on a mask at night and helps people, could probably get into stories about heroes who put on masks at night and go all vigilante for abused animals," Miner says.
He contributes a new story in the collection with artists Tess Fowler and Joaquin Pereyra that takes a look at Jeanette's childhood and how the relationship with her family led to her current life.
"I'd always had this idea about Jeanette's first hunt sabotage," Miner says, "and how a little action like messing with her brother's gear could save a life and, in the end, bring the two closer together."
The first issue of Miner's second miniseries Liberator/Earth Crisis: Salvation of Innocents, which ties into metalcore band Earth Crisis' new album, is out now. Miner wants to continue to tell stories with his characters, especially exploring what makes each of them tick and the answers to why they do what they do.
"What drives them to put on masks in the middle of the night and break into vivisection labs?" Miner says. "What pushes them to fill up gas cans in preparation for burning down an animal abuser's house while he's out for the night?
"I understand the animal-rights issues and the activist tactics, but I want to explore what happened in these individuals' lives to ignite that passion in their hearts and make them decide to stick up for the voiceless."