Writer Matt Miner‘s Liberator #1 from Black Mask Studios, with art by Javier Sanchez Aranda, hits hard in his unique story about animal rights and justice.

Narrated in a gritty, Punisher-style POV in an opening sequence that grabs the reader’s attention, the main character of Damon sets a tone for the story that shows passion for the subject-matter without being preachy or reckless in message.

Miner, who has a strong background in animal rights activism, shows his knowledge of the subject in a way that doesn’t come off as a laundry list of talking points either. This story just lays all of its cards out on the table and gets straight into a story that could be happening anywhere in the world.Liberator Matt Miner

Often times in comics, there are hypothetical examinations of ethics that can be easily lost when the characters are hyperbolic examples of basic human ideals and conceptions. Liberator’s street-level view of ethics as they pertain to animals brings uncomfortable truths to life that are hard to ignore with the graphic, but salient examples of animal torture and abuse shown throughout the story.

Once, Liberator gets its message out front and center, the story shifts into Damon’s personal life where he lives a low key existence. Rather than falling prey to typical story tropes of duality, Miner finds the truth in the different lives people live and uses that to build up pathos for Damon. He takes a lot of crap to keep what he does a secret, showing a sensibility that indicates a character focused on his mission.

Liberator provides another fresh perspective on matters of animal rights, especially considering there are no substantive voices dedicated to the protection of animals in fiction. From start to finish, it takes on a tough subject with truth and a genuine approach that reminds that this is one, albeit, important perspective to look at. The balanced approach to characters, particularly in the animal rights world, shows a discernment of nuance.

Liberator Matt MinerThose character strengths are extenuated by the solid visual storytelling of Aranda. He takes a yeoman’s approach to finding the right recipe to help Miner tell the story from panel to panel. Consider the opening sequence. Each panel has a flow that keeps the eyes moving in the right direction while synching up nice and tight with Miner’s narrative.

Then there is the rest of the artistic team with colorist Joaquin Pereyra and letterer Vito Delsante. An often overlooked part of comics, these two elements come together beautifully with the written and visual aspects of the story. Colors pop off the page, and the letters keep the narrative and dialogue smooth flowing throughout the story.

Overall, Liberator makes for a solid debut from Miner and the creative team behind the art. This will run as a mini-series, which makes this a must read for anyone who ever wondered what really happens in the dog fighting, fur trading, or animal experimentation world. Run down to your local comic shop to check it out.