I was a big fan of the first volume of Liberator. It was a book that never backed down from the story it had to tell and still managed to be entertaining and informative from beginning to end. With this volume I thought I knew what to expect, but I was wrong. Somehow Salvation of Innocents managed to surprise and exceeds my expectations; in many ways its better than the first volume which is no easy feat to accomplish. I will say that this volume is a bit more graphic, but I think it’s important that you suck it up and deal with that fact. By the end I need to hug my cat because of some of the things I saw in this book. It’s a hard pill to swallow for sure and more than one time did I find a frog in my throat from a touching scene. But if you ignore it that doesn’t help so again, be bold.
The story introduces us to a new character by the name of Sarah Mann. We’re introduced to her as she arrives at a laboratory for a job interview as a janitor. She’s discovers a ton of protestors outside the lab and she’s a bit shocked by the spectacle of it all, but she goes in any way. She gets the job and begins working there and even befriends a monkey. She names him Darby and occasionally sneaks him out of his cage. Darby is very affectionate which is kind of heartbreaking. Soon the job wears on Sarah as one day she witnesses a monkey (not Darby, but you’ll be scared it is) being operated on while it’s still alive. This changes Sarah’s world as she thinks of Darby and wonders if she really can continue doing this job.
This comic book is heavy. It deals with the real world and while there is a degree of fiction, that’s limited to the characters, locations and the structure of the narrative. The writing from Matt Miner and Earth Crisis is wonderful. Sarah is a great character that is fleshed out before our eyes. Really she sounds like everyone in her situation would, she needs a job and while she knows it’s not perfect she does what she can… until she can’t any more. Her connection to Darby is very real, but a lot of that comes from the art that we’ll get to. Another character of note is Dr. Reznik who is clearly foreign due to her dialogue. It’s very impressive because it never comes off as stereotypical or offensive, but a realistic accent which is difficult to do in comics.
The art is very powerful. The raw emotion that it invokes is startling it’s so powerful. When Sarah is holding Darby there is a real bond between them and that comes from both Sarah and Darby’s facial expressions. If you read the first volume then you can expect a different look for the art. Javier Sanchez Aranda has grown a lot and while there is still the flair of their style from the first series, here it’s much cleaner. It’s because of the clean line work it’s grounded in the real world. I was seriously impressed with how much Aranda has grown as an artist from the first series.
I can’t recommend this book enough. Granted there is a message and its present and clear throughout the issue, but Miner gets it right by not being preachy or shoving it down the readers throat. He doesn’t forget that there’s a story to be told and he makes the story enjoyable (if not also heavy) to read. Even sad stories should be enjoyable to read and in fact the best ones are. If you missed the first volume you should definitely give this volume a chance. It’s an incredible comic book that’s perfect for the medium.
Writers: Matt Miner and Earth Crisis Artist: Javier Sanchez Aranda Publisher: Black Mask Studios Price: $3.99 Release Date: 3/12/14