When Frank Miller finished The Dark Knight Returns and Dave Gibbons was riding the first wave of Watchmen appreciation back in the late 1980s, they met at San Diego Comicon, had a beer at the zoo, and decided that a collaboration between the two of them would probably conquer comics once and for all. The result was Give Me Liberty, a near-future story about America in its second civil war, focused around a young woman conscripted to fight for her half of the country. It’s a wonderful piece of social extrapolation, and as politically pertinent as ever with a divisive Republican President in office who regularly appears to be a caricature of himself.
Over the next 20 years, Miller and Gibbons return to the character and all her stories are contained in this book, including digitally-coloured versions of short stories and full reproductions of all the mini-series, right up to the finalé Martha Washington Dies.
However, there’s a feeling of diminishing returns about the stories as you read them that even Gibbons’ commentaries can’t hide. He tells the story of the relationship and the creative differences that forged Washington’s story, and it’s clear the result isn’t everything that was hoped for in that initial meeting. However, Miller’s half-cocked stories are still strong enough to blast many lesser writers out of the game; and Gibbons’s artwork, despite being spread over a transitional period of moving from pen and ink to digital processes, includes some iconic comic moments.