Writer: Pat Mills
Artist: Charlie Adlard
A change in government in the late-1990s leads the removal of nuclear weapons from Great Britain and the withdrawal of US forces on British soil - priming the country for invasion by the Volgans (aka Russians). One man led the resistance after his family were killed accidentially by the Volgans - Bill Savage. He disappeared years ago...but now he's back.
Originally presented in three "books" of ten episodes in 2000AD, Savage: Taking Liberties is an action-packed yet thoughtful read, entertaining from start to end with a strong touch of reality and sense of family to counterbalance the heavy violence throughout. This single volume collects all three books in one, making a reasonably chunky package at a good price.
Savage takes on the identity of his dead brother Jack - very few people know who he really is, but this includes his family who gradually get drawn further into the resistance as time passes. Of course, this eventually opens them up to reprisals, such forms the core of book two and drive behind book three: a member of the family finally stands up to be counted and pays the price due to betrayal as book two closes; book three is Savage finding out who and why (and exacting vengeance). Sadly it doesn't work quite as well as books one or two (whilst in the first book everything is introduced, developed, moved on, and ends with a terrific cliffhanger as it all goes to pot; and the second solves the cliffhanger and progresses the plot well; the third feels out of place, a total change of pace which sits uncomfortably following the first two books).
This takes nothing away from books one and two, which are only a little short of genius - the slightly staccato nature of the story is forgiveable given it originally saw print in five page chunks, with mini-cliffhangers in many episodes. For me, this is the best thing Mills has ever written (and I've been reading his stuff in 2000AD, Crisis, etc for donkey's years) and Adlard is the perfect accompaniment - you might know him from The Walking Dead, and stylistically Savage is the urban equivalent of that rural series, with soldiers instead of zombies. Crowd scenes present no problems, close-up emotional scenes ditto - the simple point is everyone looks and feels human, with human strengths and weaknesses. He's going to be a hell of a tough act to follow.
In conclusion - the first two books are up there with anything produced by 2000AD over the past ten years, heck, with virtually any comic over the same period. An essential purchase then, and if you get more from book three than I did you need to buy another and give it to a friend.
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