Review: CBLDF Liberty Annual 2013

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The “Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Liberty Annual” features short stories from a variety of talented teams. This annual is meant to battle censorship in comics. Posing the question of what happens when a story is taken from its creator? Help support a great cause, all proceeds from this annual go to support CBLDF and their important first amendment work. Plus where else can you find Hack/Slash, The Hoax Hunters, Pussy Riot, and Captain Midnight in one place?


WRITTEN BY: Fabio Moon, Richard Corben, Corinna Bechko & Gabriel Hardman, Jeremy Atkins, Steve Seeley and Michel Moreci, Josh Williamson, Art Baltazar & Franco, Paul Tobin, Leah Sottile, and Tim Seeley.
ART BY: Fabio Moon, Richard Corben, Gabriel Hardman, D.A. Cox, Joe Eisma, Dennis Culver, Art Baltazar, Jaun Ferreyra, Emi Lennox, Andy Huhn, Ron Chan.
PUBLISHER: Image
PRICE: $4.99
RELEASE: October 02, 2013

Five bucks is a small price to pay for all this talent. There is no easy way to tackle a book as robust as this, so I’ll be breaking each story down individually. As a whole the book is impressive, varied, and entirely worth supporting.

The first story by Fabio Moon is tantalizing enough to begin the annual. It centers on the power of the medium, and more specifically an idea. This short one-page story is about the nature of storytelling. It’s excellent, simple, and drawn in a pulpy throwback style.

Richard Corben’s tale “Dun’s Return” is specifically about the lengths of government censorship. While the story is embellished, it serves its purpose. Storytellers shouldn’t be naïve and defending their work is just as important as doing it. The art here is moody and dark. Heavy shadows inspire the entire ordeal. Yet, it ends with a pop, and reminds us of the magic of comics.

Corinna Bechko and Gabrial Hardman bring us “The Shoot” a story about the nature of filmmaking set in the time it was invented. Thomas Edison doesn’t take too kindly to others using his patent. So he hunts them down with hired goons and tries to stop them at any cost. The art here is fantastic, the story is pulp inspired, and has a fantastic resolution. Showing that sometimes the act of censorship itself can create a better story than the one we set out to tell.

Jeremy Atkins and D.A. Cox bring us Charles the Ghoul in “The Curse of the Empty Suit.” The story centers on a popular tv show host pushed to rebrand his television program against his will. The results build to be less than stellar, until Charles has an idea to save his own show. Cox’s work is simple but effective giving the smug executives hardly any identifying features outside of their blind pursuit of cash.

Steve Seeley and Michael Moreci’s “Hoax Hunters: Grievance Day” shows us a world where all mythical creatures get to air their complaints about the way the world treats them. As a result the hoax hunters are sent to shake down a local news anchor. The story is about the power of the media, and how they can so easily curb our views on something, even if they themselves are misinformed. The story is accompanied by crazily clean artwork from Joe Eisma, including an incredible depiction of Bigfoot himself.

Josh Williamson’s “Captain Midnight in Captain Misinformation” deals with inaccuracies in new age media. How anyone can publish anything on the internet, and the difficulty in finding the true account of anything. This is a fantastic device that hasn’t been exposed quite yet in the superhero world. Captain Midnight’s frustration is well deserved. Dennis Culver’s lines are clean and communicate the wildly varied story with incredible ease. His ability to jump from a panel of sheer insanity to a man sitting at a desk is commendable.

“My Hero” is a simple story by Art Baltazar and Franco. It tells the story of the everyday hero and communicates its message with one page. The ending is the touching moment between parent and child we’ve seen a thousand times, but its no less effective here.

Paul Tobin’s “A Mustache At My Heels” tells the harrowing story of an entertainer from the turn of the 20th century. A man who worked with several talented teams of people only to be find himself dead on the ground in Dachau. It’s a quick look at persecution with incredible artwork by Jaun Ferreyra that completely captures the spirit of the times.

Leah Sotille’s “Punk Rock is Out To Lunch” is the story of Pussy Riot and the downfall of modern punk music. Sotille contends that no musical icons can take a chance, but pushes people to wear their own masks and stand up against injustice. It’s a great topical piece that puts the modern music scene against the political spectrum and poses a great question. The whole thing is accompanied by the fantastic art of Emi Lenox.

Tim Seeley’s Cassie Hack stars in “Avert Your Eyes.” A story about censorship in horror. Cassie pursues a villain who is responsible for censoring everything. Black bars adorn every page, and the story centers on a great point. There is a thin difference between scaring your audience to entertain and to think. Andy Kuhn’s art is great amidst the chaos of the censorship, and his use of black bars allows all the best bits to be censored. An effective message shines through, and reminds us that censorship detracts from the important messages the original work intended.

Josh Williamson and Ron Chan close out the book with “What if Wertham was Right?” This short story is provides insight on comics effect on youthful minds. The anarchy that results from a couple of kids finding a comic book in the woods used to be the typical mindset of those outside the comics world. Ron Chan’s art is great fun. He takes a softer approach that by the final page turns into pure horror.

This annual is chock full of content. A hearty recommendation. This book that is filled with horror and packs a wallop of a statement. Help support a great cause and rush to your nearest comic shop and buy it. The future of the medium may depend on it.

Rating 4.5/5 Skulls.