The Sons of Liberty
To quote one of the authors, the concept of this graphic novel for ages 10 and up is “two runaway slaves become masked vigilantes during the American Revolution.” Graham, the elder of the two, strikes his master’s son when the latter threatens to whip young Brody for singing a song against slaveowners. The other slaves help the boys run away, and they try to find hermit abolitionist Benjamin Lay to get help. Instead, they encounter William Franklin, Benjamin’s son, who half kills the boys with his electrical experiments.
Graham and Brody recover to find that they now have extraordinary powers, including super strength and intelligence. Benjamin Franklin helps the boys, and Lay teaches them an African martial art he learned from a slave in Barbados. When their master’s son attacks Lay, Graham and Brody’s attempts at revenge have unexpected consequences.
What a great concept to hook young people into learning about the Revolution and slavery! There’s plenty of action and sneering bad guys to excite reluctant readers. It should make history seem cool, though young readers will need guidance. Teachers who use it as supplemental reading will want to have a class discussion on fact vs. fiction. The authors did research the era, but admit to taking extensive liberties with history. They provide a website which will discuss the fact vs. fiction issue, but at this writing that page was still “coming soon.”
The artwork is exciting yet frustrating. There are some beautifully-drawn panels, with facial expressions conveying strong emotions without words. But others seem less carefully drawn; I had trouble telling some of the secondary characters apart. I hope the other three planned volumes in the series will make the differences clearer, and provide more guidance on fact vs. fiction. It’s an idea worth developing.