Get into Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters

Freedom Fighters (1976) #1-15
Crisis Aftermath: The Battle for Bludhaven (2006) #1-6
Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters (2006) #1-8
Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters: Brave New World (2007) #1-8
Freedom Fighters (2010) #1-9

The Freedom Fighters charge into action

It might be a hokey name, but Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters is supposed to be fun. It is the story of Uncle Sam, the spirit of America brought into corporeal form, bringing America’s heroes together to fight villainy. In recent years Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray took to revitalizing these characters to become the flag bearers of DC Comics’ patriotic superheroes. They also work for the government, making for an interesting juxtaposition of political intrigue and spandex clad super heroics.

The characters who make up the Freedom Fighters were originally owned by Quality Comics, a competitor to DC Comics’ predecessor, National Publications. After going out of business in the 1950s, Quality Comics’ properties were bought by National Publications, who eventually reintroduced some of their new characters as the Freedom Fighters. The team was placed on an alternate Earth, Earth-X, where the Nazis had won World War II. This meant the war time characters could continue their war time adventures indefiniately. It wasn’t until the 1985 Crisis on Infinite Earths, where DC Comics consolidated all their alternate Earths into one streamlined continuity. The Freedom Fighters were now free to interact with Superman, Batman and the Justice League.

The Freedom Fighters eventually fell back into obscurity with ocassional guest appearances and a new Black Condor appearing in his own 12 issues long solo book. Then, during Infinite Crisis, DC decided to clean house and brutally killed off most of the original members in order to create a brand new, younger team. That’s where Palmiotti and Gray come in.

While not exactly a Freedom Fighter story, Crisis Aftermath: The Battle for Bludhaven depicts the aftermath of the city of Bludhaven’s destruction during Infinite Crisis. The government agency known as S.H.A.D.E. is called in to secure the ruins of the city and tend to the injuried and homeless. The book becomes an all out battle between the Teen Titans, S.H.A.D.E., the villains and introduces the characters that will make up the new Freedom Fighters.

The follow up book, Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters, depicts Uncle Sam bringing the new team (the explosive Human Bomb, the shadow powered Phantom Lady, the magical Black Condor, the shrinking Doll Man, the flame throwing Firebrand, the light powered Ray and the insectoid Red Bee) together to fight against the seemingly corrupt S.H.A.D.E., but from there the book expands into a battle that could only take place in a comic book. The team fights a government strike force, an alien, and other mind blowing foes. They returned again in the Brave New World mini-series that showed the established team bend and nearly break. Red Bee is posessed by an alien insect and her betrayal tests the strength of her teammates in the face of potential world domination.

The team basically disappears for some time until making a surprise return in a new ongoing series. The Freedom Fighters received mixed reviews and seemed all over the place at times. The book brings in some National Treasure-like mystery and conspiracy surrounding America’s history and also delivers plenty of costumed super-heroes fighting costumed super-villains. The series ends, after only  nine issues, with the seemingly permanent dispanding of the team and that’s the head scratching end of the DC Universe Freedom Fighters.

Then the DCU was rebooted following the events of Flashpoint, introducing reinterprations of familiar characters starting with a clean slate. As part of their continued world building, DC has started publishing brand new versions of Phantom Lady, The Ray and Human Bomb, all written by the team of Palmiotti and Gray. It seems that DC Comics is once again starting anew with the Freedom Fighters, this time completely free of any previous stories. This could get interesting.

The Freedom Fighters aren’t groundbreaking or game changing, but their adventures are a lot of fun. If you like straight forward superheroics, nostalgia, governemnt agencies and America, you should check them out.

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