Saturday, October 15, 2011

The CBLDF Presents Liberty Annual 2011

Written by Matt Wagner, JH Williams III, AJ Lieberman, Brandon Montclare, Steve Niles, Carla Speed McNeil, Kazim Ali, J. Michael Straczynski, Dara Haraghi, Judd Winick, Richard Starkings, Mark Waid, and Dave Grilli
Art by Fábio Moon, Gabriel Bá, Matt Wagner, JH Williams III, Riley Rossmo, Joelle Jones, Michael Montenat, Carla Speed McNeil, Craig Thompson, Kevin Sacco, Christopher Mitten, Thiago Micalopulous, Rodney Ramos, Shaky Kane, Boo Cook, Jeff Lemire, and J. Gonzo

I've never bought an issue of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund's Liberty Annual before, but seeing a number of creators I admire attached to it, I figured it was time to give it a try.  As with any anthology like this, the stories within are a pretty mixed bag, but I definitely admire the goals of the organization, which provides legal assistance to people in the comic book world who face censorship or legal difficulties related to comics.  The CBLDF is a champion of free speech, and as such, the stories and strips in this book are concerned with promoting that freedom.

There is a large emphasis in this issue on the rights of gay, lesbian, and transgendered people.  Many stories focus on that, but none more effectively than Kazim Ali's memoir strip, which is beautifully drawn by Craig Thompson.  Compared to it, Matt Wagner's story, which features Hunter Rose, feels amateurish and ham-fisted.

Also of note in this book is JMS's rant about the separation of church and state, which raises some good points, and Mark Waid and Jeff Lemire's defense of superhero worship in children.  Carla Speed McNeil has a strip about her child, who has Down's Syndrome, and the ridiculousness of trying to maintain a vocabulary that doesn't cause offense.  Dara Haraghi and Christopher Mitten contribute an interesting story about growing up in Revolutionary Iran, which would be a nice companion to a story in the last issue of Dark Horse Presents.

Another item that is worthy of discussion in this book is the nude Elephantmen, just because that's not something you see everyday.

This is a very decent anthology, and really, anyone who loves comics should be willing to plunk down the $5 to help support the cause.

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