Tripwire continues its 100 Graphic Novels You Should Read While Stuck Inside with its seventy-eighth choice, Give Me Liberty, by Frank Miller and Dave Gibbons and reviewed by Tripwire’s editor-in-chief Joel Meadows…
Give Me Liberty
Writer: Frank Miller
Artist: Dave Gibbons
Colourist: Robin Smith
Dark Horse Comics
Today’s graphic novel is Give Me Liberty, a sci-fi series originally published back in 1990 by Dark Horse. The Martha Washington of the title is an African-American girl who grows up in the poor Chicago neighbourhood of Cabrini Green. Through various situations she first finds herself arrested and then as an officer in Pax, the Peace Corps of the story. But this is our world with a step taken to the side and so it is a world led by US president Rexall, a slice of speculative fiction that’s only a short distance away from our own.
Miller’s collaboration with Gibbons on the art is an effective one and Gibbons brings Miller’s fractured version of the US, a country literally at war with itself led first by a scary demagogue president and then a flawed but basically good man, to life on the page with real aplomb and confidence. His art has always had a very European feel and he takes it to a whole other level here although it still possesses those uniquely British idiosyncrasies that Gibbons has always used to his advantage.
Miller has carved out a post-apocalyptic US that is corrupt, riven with deep-seated rivalries and created a protagonist in Washington who is flawed, human and someone the reader roots for throughout this four part story. His satirical approach is a similar one to Dark Knight Returns, mocking a society that has cracked and splintered. As a sci-fi epic, it also owes something to Otomo’s Akira and there are echoes of Kubrick and Burgess’ Clockwork Orange here too a little. Give Me Liberty also shows how technology can be twisted and abused to maintain power for those in charge. It has a few of those classic Miller moments that lift his work above his contemporaries like some classic lines of dialogue chosen and deployed at precisely the right time.
Robin Smith’s colours are the perfect foil for Gibbons’ lines, providing tone and mood throughout.
Give Me Liberty is an ambitious collaboration between two of comics’ finest creators at the top of their career and there is real chemistry between Miller and Gibbons. They returned to Washington a number of times afterwards but this first tale is their strongest.
Here’s links to the other graphic novels reviewed so far