FREEDOM FIGHTERS #1
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
WRITER: Robert Venditti
ARTIST: Eddy Barrows
COLORIST: Adriano Lucas
LETTERER: Deron Bennett
COVER: Eddy Barrows
COVER PRICE: $3.99
DC is digging back into the archives to bring us a new take on an amazing otherworldly concept: the Freedom Fighters! The team first appeared in Justice League of America #107 (October 1973) and have popped up every few years, in such stories as Countdown to Final Crisis, Blackest Night, a nine-issue series in 2010, a brief New 52 revision with a special flair from Grant Morrison, and even a Chinese representation in the recent Rebirth line.
Flash forward to today – er… 1963 – in Nazi-controlled Dallas, Texas. Hitler, it seems, won World War II. Pushing back is the American Resistance Underground, using pass code challenge quotes of American significance:
“One if by land, two if by sea.”
-From Henry W. Longfellow’s poem Paul Revere’s Ride
“Give me liberty, or give me death.”
The book does well to emphasize the paranoia that comes with war. Social protocols are abandoned for assurances of safety. Some refuse to shake hands. “Better rude than dead,” after all. These soldiers are always on their guard. You never know when Ratzis will show up. Ratzis being the apparent play on “rat” and “Nazi.”
There is a curious scene in which our heroes begin a meeting with a familiar Pledge of Allegiance to the US Flag. The text inserts a comma during a section that has an observed (though unpresent) pause in the recitation where “…one nation, under God…” should be read “…one nation under God…” Chalk it up to being an alternate reality. The Fighters pledge before a war-torn banner resembling Old Glory. She has all 13 bars, but only 33 stars. The rest could be cut from the frame, but there remains spots for three more stars. Allowing for stylistic shifting, it would make sense for her to have 48 stars since Hawaii & Alaska were not admitted to the Union until 1959. But there’s a whole 70-75 years of alternate history since America fell to Germany in 1956. Could be they were never admitted.
The introduction of the “Plasstic Men” – complete with Schutzstaffel (“SS”) branding in their name – was an unexpected surprise. Relentless and ruthless, these Ratzi Metas are calculated soldiers intent on drawing out not only the last of the American Resistance, but American ideals as well. The plot to destroy “Onkel Sam” is revealed and met with rebuke. Uncle Sam is just an idea after all, right?
Victories fuel the propaganda machine as “Execution Ceremonies” are televised throughout the Nation. The pain of loss is felt by a prolific hero that fights to the end before we flash forward 55 years. Welcome to the Ratzi Controlled US territory… 2018.
Victory, it seems, is short lived as the shadows of the past stretch over the present. The first of DC’s newest 12-issue maxi-series erupts in a dynamic conclusion with just enough of a hook to reel us into issue two as the Iron Police are heralded by one simple goal: Extermination.
Robert Venditti’s story begins with a dark & stormy night and drives through 20 pages of tension & terror, delivering the hope of hope through bold characters primed to forge iconic footholds in the foundation of your fandom.
A team of diverse characters is formed by Olympic gold medalist Jesse Owens, Physicist Dave Mathis (the self-explanitory Human Bomb), Donna Camprese (a shrinking woman known as Doll Woman with a chip on her shoulder that doesn’t diminish), and Uncle Sam – the living Embodiment of the American Spirit. Think Santa Claus with apple pie.
Art chores by Eddy Barrows are magnificently executed with Eber Ferreira’s definition and Adriano Lucas’ colours polishing off a gritty world. The art captivates the reader in a nightmare world that doesn’t end with the sunshine and ballgames.
If you are looking for just another capes & tights book with heroes throwing down to an end within sight, then keep looking. If you are looking for a hard-hitting book with costumed crusaders pushing back the dark waves on an oppressive sea with no assurances of victory, then strap in for the maxi-series of 2019!
Because who hasn’t wanted to go back and punch Nazis in the face?
Freedom Fighters #1 releases Wednesday, December 19th 2018!
Originally published on the Multiverse website on December 18th, 2018.