Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Comics Blah Blah Comics: Freedom Fighters

With the 4th of July coming up in a couple of days, I thought I might take a look at DC series from the mid-1970s, Freedom Fighters

Like a lot of projects from this time period at DC, Freedom Fighters came from the desk of Gerry Conway and like a lot of Conway projects from that time, the first issues were a revolving door of talent before settling on a regular creative team. Conway plotted issue #1 and wrote issue #2, Marty Pasko scripted #1 and wrote #3 and #4 before Bob Rozakis came on board with issue #5 and wrote the rest of the series. After Ric Estrada and Pablo Marcos pencilled the first two issues, Ramona Fradon drew issue #s 3 through 6. Then Dick Ayers came on board with inker Jack Abel as of issue #8 and drew the series to the end. 

Cover art by Ernie Chan (#4), Rich Buckler & Jack Abel (#7) and Alex Saviuk & Frank Giacoia (#15)

The Freedom Fighters were composed of former Quality Comics super heroes that DC had acquired and had appeared in Justice League of America in a crossover with the JSA.  These heroes were: 

  • The Black Condor 
    • No, he wasn't black but he could fly
  • Doll Man
    • Could shrink to the size of a doll (duh!)
  • The Human Bomb
    • Blows up real good...when he's naked (really!)
  • Phantom Lady
    • Fought crime dressed in the finest of Frederick's of Hollywood
  • The Ray
    • Light powers
  • Uncle Sam 
    • Yes, THAT Uncle Sam

Back in the old multiverse days of DC, the Quality heroes were over on Earth X where the Nazis had won World War II. However, thanks to the intervention of the Justice League of Earth One and the Justice Society of Earth Two, those mean old Nazis were overthrown and apparently there was no more crime left to fight on Earth X. So the Freedom Fighters hopped over en masse to Earth One where we have LOTS of crime. Except the FF gets played for suckers by a villain called the Silver Ghost; before the last page of issue #1, the Freedom Fighters have been labeled as outlaws and are on the run. (Yes, even Uncle Sam!)  

My first issue of Freedom Fighters was #4 which guest starred Wonder Woman and in many ways, this book was my first "Marvel" comic. Think about it: 
  • A group of super heroes who are on the outs with society and the law. 
  • A big time super hero comes over from their title for a guest star turn. 
  • Meanwhile being pursued by the very authorities they came to Earth One to help have put our heroes under a lot of pressure and they're not exactly getting along. 

Freedom Fighters was never what I would call a "great" book. It was at its best mildly entertaining. But Rozakis, Ayers and Abel were delivering solid, professional work and I'd recommend their "mildly entertaining" work over a lot of other books at the time.  I'll say I was sufficiently entertained enough that I was truly sad when I got to the end of Freedom Fighters#15 and found out the book was coming to an end. 

Except it didn't. And it did.

The Freedom Fighters were to continue their battles against the Silver Ghost in the pages of Secret Society of Super Villains while The Ray would fly solo in a new back up series appearing in Black Lightning. It was all part of some spectacular new initiative called The DC Explosion

Yep, this was 1978 and what came to pass was the infamous DC Implosion. The Ray got one solo story before Black Lightning was cancelled. The FF in Secret Society never happened at all (except in the Xerox'd Cancelled Comics Cavalcade). 

While certain threads from SSoSV were later picked up in issues of Justice League of America, to my knowledge, this incarnation of the Freedom Fighters was never addressed again. Variations did appear elsewhere: 
Roy Thomas rolled in versions of the Quality heroes into All Star Squadron
There was a Phantom Lady serial in Action Comics Weekly
Some configuration of the Fighters appeared... and were summarily slaughtered... in Infinite Crisis#1.

Later the Freedom Fighters concept was dusted off and refurbished by writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray. I understand some good work was done in those comics but I never followed them.  

There's still a soft spot in my heart for those original ragtag heroes from Earth X, trying to make their way on a new Earth they didn't understand. I'm glad I stumbled upon them on that squeaky spinner rack when I was a kid.  

I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You


The return of... 
It Came Thru Bruce Wayne's Window
What's coming through the Wayne Manor window this week? Hint: it has a connection to the American Revolution. And speaking of which....

The 4th of July brings us a special edition of bROkEN nEWs!

And with the red glare of 4th of July fireworks still in my head, Doctor Who Weekend looks at the history of Americans in Doctor Who.

In the meantime, be good to one another.    

Doctor Who: The Dalek Planet - Episode Four

DISCLAIMER:  I'm doing this for fun, not profit. This is not officially sanctioned by the BBC and the producers of Doctor Who.   In c...