Official Press Release
When the U.S. government needs a superhero team, they turn to the handiest source of superpowered folks: prisons. Can four supervillains win the fight for life, liberty, and an early parole? That's the central question of THE LIBERTY PROJECT, a superhero series created by original Thunderbolts writer Kurt Busiek and by penciler James W. Fry now being collected for the first time.
Originally published in 1987 and 1988, this overlooked series came out before Busiek's ground-breaking work on Marvels and Astro City caused readers to begin seeking out his work. "This was the first place I got to play with a number of my ongoing obsessions about characters and storytelling," says Busiek. "LIBERTY PROJECT was the first ongoing title I created, and the themes James and I explored there have been popping up ever since in my work -- the idea of super-villains-as-heroes was also the central concept of Thunderbolts, of course, and it's been a part of Astro City and Power Company as well, and even Avengers. I don't know why I'm so interested in redemption as a theme - maybe I have hidden issues myself! - but it's definitely something that hooks me, and seems to hook readers of my work, as well.
"Still, that doesn't mean that the series is a serious, weighty tome. Like Thunderbolts, it's an up-tempo, upbeat superhero series, with as much action and fun and character drama as we could fit into each issue. Maybe even more so, since the Proj came out at the height of the grim & gritty era, and James and I were itching to do something that was just a ton of fun."
Penciler James W. Fry's sense of fun is obviously still intact. "Sure, I could go on and on about how thrilled I am to see The Liberty Project back in print, but would that make you buy this book?" he asks. "I don't think so. I could wax rhapsodic over the fact that creating these characters and stories with Kurt was more fun than a sleepover with a supermodel, but would that separate you, the American consumer, from your hard-earned cash? No, and why should it? Never mind that purchasing this volume will clear away warts and blemishes overnight, help you lose up to 150 pounds of unsightly fat before lunchtime and make you over one million dollars an hour for the rest of your life. Sure, that's all true, but of absolutely no consequence! No, the single most compelling reason to buy this book is that each these stories contain within them the long-coveted, absolutely guaranteed, one hundred per cent foolproof Secrets of How To Attract Women! That is, of course, assuming the women you wish to attract are Tex-Mex gals with super-strength and poor impulse control, or deranged homicidal pyrokinetic teenagers. Good luck, America!"
When the book was first published, it built a fan following among those who knew their superhero books. "I read THE LIBERTY PROJECT when I was in high school and sought after every issue," remembers Wolverine artist Darick Robertson. "It was ahead of its time in that it tried to spin super heroes into the real world of media hype and personal conflict. My only regret is that James Fry is too smart with his creator rights and I couldn't convince Kurt Busiek to throw him aside and let me draw it! But James is so damn good in his own right, I should just stick to heaping on the praise..."
About Comics' upcoming trade paperback of THE LIBERTY PROJECT is the first time that this material has been collected. "We wanted to put out a book that was good fun superhero material," explains Nat Gertler, publisher of About Comics. "The book has the entire eight-issue run of The Liberty Project plus the contents of The Seraphim Objective, a one-shot that followed the series, with a new cover by James and a new afterword by Kurt. By reprinting it all in black and white in a convenient manga-sized book, we managed to keep the price down to $11.95, a bargain for nine issues of comics."
The four convicts-cum-heroes who are brought together include Slick, a smooth player whose name suits both his slippery powers and personality; Burnout, a troubled lass with pyrokinetic ability; Crackshot, a repentant marksman; and Cimarron, a spirited, sexy, and super-strong young woman. On their rocky road toward redemption, they encounter teenage monsters, autocratic space aliens, larcenous old friends and lovers, and enough wrecked police cars to fill a summer blockbuster.
"It's always good to see your work collected, to have a chance to live on and entertain new readers in book form," Busiek notes. "And I've had a lot of work collected over the last decade - but I've got to admit, I'm giddy as a hyperventilating schoolgirl that this stuff is coming back into print. It's a series I'm proud of, it's a series not many people have had a chance to read, and most importantly to me, these guys are family - we go way back, and I'm so glad to be connected with them again. James and I have often talked about going back to tell more LIBERTYPROJECT adventures someday, and I hope this is just the first step down that road."
The Liberty Project (ISBN 0-9716338-2-7) is a 232 page black and white trade paperback, 7 3/4" by 5 1/2", priced at $11.95 and shipping in July from About Comics.