The Price of Freedom: The Homeland Directive

The Homeland Directive is a fast-paced political action thriller that explores the boundary between personal freedom and security. How much of the former are you willing to give up for the latter? How much personal information are you willing to share with the state, if it keeps you safe? What happens if they ask for more than you’re willing to give?

Dr. Laura Regan finds herself dragged into the middle of a struggle between two shadowy organisations, each with their own agenda and secrets. Torn out of her normal life and forced to go on the run after being labeled a murderer, Laura discovers a conspiracy that affects the lives of every American and has the potential to change the world.

Robert Venditti, the writer of The Homeland Directive is perhaps most well known for his graphic novel, The Surrogates, which was later made into a movie starring Bruce Willis. The Homeland Directive from Top Shelf Comics is another thriller, but this one is firmly set in the real world of the twenty first century, exploring another idea that is equally as disturbing and challenging as those presented in The Surrogates.

Dr Laura Regan, an expert on viruses and bacteria, is attending a conference as a guest speaker when she is kidnapped. Her research partner is murdered and she is blamed in an attempt to put her in the spotlight, making it difficult for her to move or stay in hiding. The question then become why was she targeted? What does she know that makes her so dangerous that she has to be framed for murder? And who is behind it all?

The war on terror is now such a commonly used phrase; one that has been spoken and used in print so many times in the last few years that it should be meaningless. However, it is still an incredibly powerful tool, which is why politicians and leaders continue to use it. The phrase still has the power to invoke a swell of national pride, a prickle of fear and make people scan those around them for troublemakers. It has the ability to generate fear and xenophobia and it is this knee-jerk reaction which some would use to erode civil liberties in the name of national security.

Homeland Security Secretary, Albert Keene, has been told that the President expects him to deliver results against the war on terror. The nation needs to see that the President is taking effective measures to protect them from future disasters, to anticipate and intercept them, in order to keep them safe. This directive has nothing to do with an upcoming presidential election, of course, but a bold move against terror, or the capture of a high profile suspect, wouldn’t hurt his figures in the next opinion poll.

Keene finds himself in an impossible situation. He is tasked with doing everything in his power to protect the nation and is also being told he needs to do it quickly to satisfy political timescales. He sets in motion a strategy that will change the game itself, one that will help him and others root out terrorists in the long grass, but the cost is very steep. He is willing to step over the line and make the hard decisions in the short term, because he believes it will all be worth it in the long term.

In an age where more and more information about all of us is being recorded digitally, with the right resources it is fairly easy to build up an image of someone without having ever met them. From birth certificates, to high school grades, to credit cards, store loyalty cards, medical records, and even social media usage, all of this information can be distilled to create a profile for an individual. Trying to stay off the radar and anonymous in this digital age is very difficult as Laura and her allies discover. It soon becomes a race against time with them hunting down clues while the net draws to a close.

The Homeland Directive is an exciting, tense and fast-paced conspiracy thriller that is also very thought provoking and it will make you question ideas such as privacy, security and the nature of society. Robert Venditti has one again created a provocative story based on an idea that is a little too close for comfort which will stay with you for a long time after.

Stephen Aryan is a lifelong fan of comics, science fiction and fantasy. He co-hosts the Comic Book Outsiders podcast and writes fantasy and comic book reviews at Walker of Worlds.


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