Cover to Freedom Fighters #1 (April 1976).
Art by Ernie Chan.
|First appearance||Justice League of America #107 (October 1973)|
|Created by||Len Wein (writer)
Dick Dillin (artist)
|Base(s)||Mobile (currently “The Heartland”)|
|See:List of Freedom Fighters members|
Freedom Fighters is a DC Comics comic book superhero team made up of characters acquired from the defunct company Quality Comics. Although the characters were created by Quality, they never were gathered in a group before acquired by DC. The team first appeared in a Justice League of America/Justice Society of America team-up, which ran in Justice League of America #107-108 (October–December 1973), written by Len Wein and drawn by Dick Dillin. Their own ongoing series premiered with Freedom Fighters #1 (April 1976), written by Gerry Conway and Martin Pasko, and drawn by Ric Estrada.
Fictional team history
Although when the Freedom Fighters appeared in the first time in Justice League of America #107-108, they were considered natives from Earth-X, retroactive stories established the group as native from Earth-Two, who migrated to Earth-X. The earliest version of the Freedom Fighters was assembled on December 7, 1941. This group, however, failed in its attempt to stop the devastation at Pearl Harbor. Magno was killed. This version of the group was a retcon and their deaths were depicted in the pages of Roy Thomas‘ two books chronicling that era: All-Star Squadron and the Young All-Stars.
The DC version of the characters were said to reside on the parallel world of “Earth-X”, where Nazi Germany eventually won a prolonged World War II due to a Japanese invasion of California and the development of nuclear weapons by the Nazis.
In addition to the core members of the “second team” which were the members seen in the seventies comic book, other Quality heroes joined later: Red Bee, Miss America, Manhunter, Plastic Man, and Quicksilver.
Years after the war, a third version of the team surfaced in the 1980s, with the rise of a new age of heroes. The Freedom Fighters, long with the Blackhawks and Justice Society, were captured by alien Appellaxians and placed in internment camps. They were freed by the new Justice League of America.
The Freedom Fighters regrouped for a brief time, but soon called it quits again when Firebrand was killed in battle with the Silver Ghost.
A fourth version of the team appeared as an auxiliary of the new Justice Society of America. The Human Bomb, Black Condor, and Phantom Lady were later killed by the Secret Society of Super Villains in Infinite Crisis #1. Damage was critically injured, Iron Munro was absent, and the Ray was captured by the Psycho-Pirate as part of Alexander Luthor‘s plans.
Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters
A new team of heroes debuted in the limited series Crisis Aftermath: The Battle for Blüdhaven, and later featured as Freedom Fighters members in the miniseries Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters, which premiered in July 2006. This team consists of new incarnations of the Phantom Lady, the Ray (Stan Silver), the Human Bomb, Doll Man, Bigfoot, Destroyer and Face. It is part of S.H.A.D.E., a secret American government agency chartered under the USA PATRIOT Act, led by Father Time. The new team conducts assassinations and other illegal acts against criminal and terrorist organizations. As issue #1 of Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters begins, the team is tasked to capture the revived Uncle Sam, who is in the process of forming his own Freedom Fighters team; Sam subsequently recruits the S.H.A.D.E. members to his cause, openly disapproving of their use of deadly force (although they continue to kill people even under Uncle Sam’s guidance).
This version of the team is loosely based on notes by Grant Morrison and written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray. Uncle Sam is portrayed as an almost Christ-like figure, returning from the dead, with the new Firebrand filling a John the Baptist role. Father Time is shown as aiding in Senator Frank Knight’s being secretly murdered in the midst of his successful campaign for the Presidency of the U.S. and replaced by a sentient robot double, Gonzo the Mechanical Bastard, who proceeds with an agenda to implant RFID chips in every U.S. citizen by law and control them to bring chaos to the world through war.
In Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters #3, a team created by Father Time called First Strike attacked the Freedom Fighters but not before being stopped by the new Black Condor.
In #4, Condor manages to weaken First Strike long enough for the Freedom Fighters to fight back. Human Bomb kills one First Strike’s members, Propaganda, and the team heads back to S.H.A.D.E. headquarters.
In #5, The Freedom Fighters defeat First Strike, but are taken out by a young woman claiming to be Miss America. While they are being tortured, S.H.A.D.E. headquarters is attacked by a new Red Bee and an old woman claiming to be the real Miss America.
In #6, the Freedom Fighters defeat the new Miss America with the original’s help, forcing Father Time to retreat. As he begins “molting” into a new body, he gives the order to “activate the traitor.” This turns out to be the Ray, who attacks and kills the new Invisible Hood and calls down giant reinforcements.
In #7, The Freedom Fighters face off against the Cosmigods as Uncle Sam calls them. In the midst of the battle the traitorous Ray is confronted by the returning Ray Terrill. As predicted Gonzo turns on the newly rejuvenated Father Time, who proceeds to give Uncle Sam the evidence of to prove Gonzo’s true identity. Sam presents the evidence to the world, and seemingly the final battle between First Strike and the Freedom Fighters begins.
In #8, The Freedom Fighters engage in battle against Gonzo’s metahuman taskforce at the Washington Monument, and quickly gain support from the civilians. The public eye are now seeing them as real heroes, which was later revealed to be part of Father Time’s plan all along. He tricked Gonzo into believing that S.H.A.D.E was against Uncle Sam, while in truth he was preparing the Freedom Fighters to help combat a major threat in the future. Father Time captures Gonzo and turns him into an ‘Orphan Box’ in the shape of a pair of spectacles. He plans to use it against Gonzo’s creator, the Shadow Demons. All of the metahuman taskforce members disappear into the timestream along with Father Time shortly thereafter. A week later, the new President appoints the Freedom Fighters the new directors of S.H.A.D.E.
In the new Freedom Fighters mini-series written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti in 2007, Red Bee is captured by an alien insect swarm and transformed into a human/insect hybrid. At the same time, S.H.A.D.E. has planned to make the Freedom Fighters into media darlings to help increase faith in the government following the Amazonian incident.
Uncle Sam, Firebrand, Doll Man, and Human Bomb refuse to go along with the plan and return to the Heartland. For a time, the remaining Freedom Fighters become celebrities, part of a new group called the Crusaders. Red Bee later collapses in her apartment and a swarm of insects suddenly rise out of her body.
Phantom Lady, unable to cope with the media attention, goes on a binge spree, culminating in her drunkenly slicing a criminal in half on national television. Stormy is brought to the heartland, where her body is cleaned of toxins by Miss America.
Sam and Doll Man recruit the original Doll Man (Darrell Dane) from a micro-environment within the Pentagon. After the head of the Crusaders program, Robbins, tries to kill Red Bee, the Freedom Fighters confront him. It is revealed that Robbins has mental powers that he used to control the Crusaders — and Stormy — leading to her binge.
While the Crusaders and Freedom Fighters battle, Red Bee is overtaken by her insectoid side, and uses her pheromones to enslave the Crusaders and Freedom Fighters, and prepares to create a “hive” on Earth. Meanwhile, an attempt to cure the Doll Men and several other micro-sized individuals goes horribly wrong, as all of them are merged into a single mutant form. The mutant goes on a rampage until Emma Thompson reaches Lester. Red Bee is cured of her affliction by Langford Terrill, who had gained the powers of Neon the Unknown. The team then prepares to fight off an invasion by the insectoids. After their victory, the group go their separate ways, but Sam declares that they will be needed when the Crisis begins.
In the Blackest Night crossover event, Black Lantern power rings are shown heading toward the graves of Phantom Lady, Black Condor, and Human Bomb, presumably to revive them for use in the interstellar revenant army being assembled. Indeed, at least those three are seen later attacking JSA headquarters along with the undead revenants of the Society’s members. These three Black Lanterns, along with Al Pratt’s undead form, focus on attacking Damage, though they have little success, continually getting blown up, regenerating and rising again to attack him, until Jean Loring‘s revenant kills him.