On my birthday this Wednesday, June 19, publisher Black Mask Studios will be presenting me with a very special gift that combines two of my favorite things—animal activism and comics. Even better, it’s a gift that will go out to everyone reading this as well.
Conceived and written by Matt Miner, with art by Javier Sanchez Aranda, Liberator # 1 introduces Damon Guerrero, a fictional version of many real life heroes who are willing to take direct action, and risk arrest, to free hundreds of voiceless victims from misery and eventual death inside factory farms, fur farms, vivisection laboratories, puppy mills and other production lines of institutionalized animal cruelty. The story opens with the black-garbed Guerrero (which is Spanish for “warrior”) sneaking onto the grounds of a dog fighting ring under cover of darkness to free its canine captives and torch* the empty trailer where the owners run their illegal gambling and drug operations. Guerrero is another kind of Dark Knight; defending otherwise invisible victims of heinous crimes that violate the laws not just of the courts, but of nature and basic humanity. And in setting himself above the laws recognized by society, he follows in the tradition of literary freedom fighters—like Robin Hood, the Scarlet Pimpernel and Zorro—who inspired the creators of Batman, Superman and other modern comic book superheroes. As stated by ComicBooked.com:
“Unlike any comic book project to date, Miner delivers a message about the world of animal abuse from the point-of-view of someone with expert knowledge on the matter, while blending it with a gritty protagonist in the vein of Batman or The Punisher.”
I encourage anyone who loves animals, and is outraged by the injustices routinely inflicted on them by humans, to pick up a copy of Liberator #1 when it arrives at your local comic book store this Wednesday. And if you’re going to be in New York City on Wednesday, please stop by JHU Comic Books for a 6 p.m. release day signing event with Matt Miner and Liberator editor/letterer Vitto Delsante.
Not only will you be supporting a new comic book creator and his efforts to tell a very important story, you’ll be helping to take direct action on behalf of animals, since 30% of the profits from each copy sold will go to support pit bull rescue.
Because justice shouldn’t just be something you read about in comics, and it shouldn’t just belong to those of us who can read or write them.
*A disclaimer about arson
Although I commend the extralegal actions of others who responsibly free and relocate animals being imprisoned, tortured and killed by humans; confiscate evidence to expose the barbaric activities of animal abusers; and destroy instruments used to carry out such cruelty, I condemn the use of arson (or bombs) to destroy whole buildings and other structures where animals may be housed and or exploited. Despite Guerrero’s claim in Liberator #1 that he’s “careful nobody dies, nobody gets hurt,” as an animal rights activist, that would require that he make sure any indigenous rodents, insects or spiders were evacuated from the trailer before he set fire to it. In addition, firefighters responding to the blaze will risk their lives trying to put it out.
Fire and explosives are uncontrollable and pose too much of a threat to innocent people and animals for me to consider them legitimate tools in the cause of any social justice movement.