On the parallel world, the nations of Earth-2 were embroiled in its second World War. When America entered the war, President Franklin Roosevelt sent out a call for help amongst the super-hero community. The heroes answered the call, and banded together to fight the Axis powers under the All-Star Squadron. However, the living embodiment of America, Uncle Sam, discovered a parallel world. On this world (later called Earth-X), he found the Allies losing the war against the Axis nations. In order to help this world, Uncle Sam recruited six heroes: Hourman, Invisible Hood, Magno the Magnetic Man, Miss America, Neon the Unknown, and the Red Torpedo. Calling themselves the Freedom Fighters, they traveled to Earth-X to help defend Pearl Harbor from a combined Japanese and Nazi assault, led by Baron Blitzkrieg.
The assault was stopped, but it cost the lives of the heroes involved; all except Hourman, who had been captured by the Baron, and Uncle Sam. Uncle Sam returned to Earth-2 and recruited a second team of Freedom Fighters to stop the Baron. This team included Black Condor, Doll Man, Human Bomb, Phantom Lady, the Ray, and Red Bee. They returned to Earth-X, freed Hourman, and defeated Baron Blitzkrieg, but not before Blitzkrieg killed the Red Bee.
Due to instability in the cosmic balance, three Freedom Fighters had to remain on Earth-X, while the others returned to Earth 2. Uncle Sam, Black Condor and the Ray chose to stay. Weeks later, the journey of Harbinger to 1942 opened an inter-dimensional rift through which many other mystery men journeyed from Earth 2 to Earth-X, including the Blackhawks, Doll Man, Firebrand, Human Bomb, the Jester, Manhunter, Midnight, Phantom Lady, Plastic Man, Quicksilver, and the Spider. While on Earth-X, Black Condor, Doll Man, Human Bomb, Phantom Lady, the Ray, and Uncle Sam reformed the Freedom Fighters.
In 1956, Quality Comics, publishers of a wide variety of comics, closed shop. In 1957, DC Comics purchased the right to publish the Quality stable of characters. While DC Comics immediately continued production on Quality’s two biggest properties (Blackhawks and G.I. Combat), most of the super-heroes sat on the shelf until 1973, when writer Len Wein brought six Quality Comics characters back in the pages of Justice League of America. Taking a page from greats like Julius Schwartz and Gardner Fox, Wein created a world called Earth-X, where the exploits of the Quality Comics characters existed. However, this world differed from Earth-1 and Earth-2 in the fact that the Nazi’s won World War II. These six Quality Comics characters (Black Condor, Doll Man, Human Bomb, Phantom Lady, the Ray, and Uncle Sam) made up a new team called the Freedom Fighters, and rid their world of their Nazi enemies with help from the Justice League of Earth-1 and the Justice Society of Earth-2.
The Freedom Fighters guest appearances in the Justice League of America #107 and #108 garnered enough fan response to get them their own series. The Freedom Fighters ongoing series debuted in April of 1976 as part of the DC Explosion, a marketing initiative that led to the creation of a large number of ongoing series for DC, including Return of the New Gods and Starfire. Written by Martin Pasko (and later Bob Rozakis), this series also added the original Firebrand (also a Quality character) to the team. Freedom Fighters lasted 15 issues before being cancelled. The Freedom Fighters once again resided in obscurity, outside the occasional guest appearance in DC Comics Presents and Secret Society of Super-Villains.
Bronze Age and a New Origin
As DC Comics entered the Bronze Age, writer Roy Thomas took ownership of DC’s stable of golden age heroes. Thomas sought to revitalize the golden age heroes, and retroactively created a new wartime super-team called the All-Star Squadron. Thomas wanted all of the golden age heroes to be part of this group. With All-Star Squadron issue #31 (March 1984), Thomas brought the majority of Quality characters into Earth-2 continuity. Thomas retconned that the Freedom Fighters were actually from Earth-2 with the other heroes of the Justice Society of America, and that they migrated from Earth-2 to Earth-X to aid that Earth’s fight against the Nazis. He also retconned in an earlier version of the Freedom Fighters (Hourman, Invisible Hood, Magno the Magnetic Man, Miss America, Neon the Unknown, and the Red Torpedo) made up of other Quality super-heroes with one exception: Hourman.
The Crisis on Infinite Earths
In the wake of 1985’s multiverse-changing Crisis on Infinite Earths, there was no more Earth-2 or Earth-X. Thomas needed to revamp some of the histories he had just fleshed out. Now, instead of multiple Earths, the exploits of the Freedom Fighters and the All-Star Squadron happened on the same Earth, all during World War II.
As part of that retcon, Secret Origins #26 revealed that most of the original Freedom Fighters (Invisible Hood, Miss America, Neon the Unknown, and the Red Torpedo) actually survived the attack on Pearl Harbor. In addition, instead of being a team whose sole purpose was to travel to Earth-X, the retconned Freedom Fighters was a more fluid group. Other heroes were said to be more important players in the team, including the Jester, Midnight, and Miss America.
Modern Age: Death and Rebirth
By the end of the Crisis in 1986, most of the Freedom Fighters disappeared. For some of the heroes, newer incarnations would appear (including a new Black Condor, a new Ray, and a new Phantom Lady). The Freedom Fighters would get a brief resurgence in the pages of the JSA. Under writer Geoff Johns, the Freedom Fighters reformed, comprised of the second Black Condor, Damage, the original Human Bomb, the second Phantom Lady, the second Ray, and was led again by Uncle Sam. Most of this team, however, would not live beyond Infinite Crisis #1 (December 2005), where Black Condor, Human Bomb, Phantom Lady, and Uncle Sam were killed by the Secret Society.
After the events of the Infinite Crisis, DC set the stage to re-launch the Freedom Fighters. The origin for a new group of Freedom Fighters was started in the pages of Infinite Crisis Aftermath: The Battle for Bludhaven (published June 2006). This six-issue miniseries, written by Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray, would re-introduce characters like Doll Man, Firebrand, Human Bomb, Phantom Lady, and the Ray. Though most of these updated and more vicious “heroes” would be part of an organization run by Father Time (the anti-Uncle Sam), a short story in the pages of Brave New World brought back Uncle Sam and started the ball rolling for the reincarnated Freedom Fighters.
Palmiotti & Justin Gray then launched Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters (published September 2006), an eight issue series that relaunched the team. This new team consisted of the newest Doll Man, Firebrand, Human Bomb, Phantom Lady, the Ray, and Uncle Sam. Over the series, a new Black Condor, Invisible Hood, and Red Bee would join, as well as older members Miss America and the second Ray returning to the fold. The success of the first series saw a second series, also named Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters, published in November 2007.
The Freedom Fighters currently star in their newest ongoing series, Freedom Fighters, also written by Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray. This series has introduced a new incarnation of the Jester. The current membership of the Freedom Fighters includes Black Condor, Doll Man, Human Bomb, Miss America, the Ray, and Uncle Sam.
Key Story Arcs
Peace on Earth-X
Even with the help of the various heroes of Earth-2, the Nazis of Earth-X eventually conquered America. Many Earth-X heroes gave their lives to try to stop them, including the Blackhawks of that Earth. In order to help control the population of the world, the Third Reich developed mind-influencing transmitters and stationed them at the Eiffel Tower, Mount Rushmore, and Mount Fijuyama. The remaining Freedom Fighters (Black Condor, Doll Man, Human Bomb, Phantom Lady, the Ray, and Uncle Sam) went underground.
While on patrol, the Freedom Fighters discovered an unusual sight: seven costumed super-heroes fighting the Nazi army. These heroes were members of the Justice League of Earth-1 ( Batman, Elongated Man, Green Arrow, and Red Tornado) and the Justice Society of Earth-2 ( Dr. Fate, Superman, and Sandman). The Freedom Fighters rescued them and took them back to their underground bunker.
Once regrouped, the heroes of Earth-1 and Earth-2 decided to end Nazi rule on Earth-X forever. They split up into three teams, each one targeting one of the mind-influencing transmitters. The heroes were successful, thanks to the Red Tornado bringing the attack to the Nazi’s orbiting base. Tornado destroyed the android Adolf Hitler running this Nazi regime, and enabled the Freedom Fighters to gain the upper hand. The heroes of Earth-1 and Earth-2 left for home, confidant that the Freedom Fighters could end Nazi rule.
Traveling to Earth-1
With the help of the heroes of other Earths, the Freedom Fighters made Earth-X an Earth of peace. However, with no super-villains, the heroes eventually became bored. With the help of an Earth-X scientist, the Freedom Fighters made the trip from Earth-X to Earth-1 in search of a new home. They came over to our New York City, where they immediately found themselves facing the villainous Silver Ghost and his gang. The Silver Ghost would turn out to be a recurring enemy of the team, just as New York City D.A. David Pearson would turn out to be an ally. Pearson arranged for the Freedom Fighters to be based out of a building in the East Armory. While in New York City, the team faced King Samson, Skragg the Super-Sniper, the demon Homilus, Cat-Man, the Renegades, and the alien Warmakers. During this time, Doll Man developed a dampening device that allowed the Human Bomb to be able to suppress his abilities. The team also gained another member: the first Firebrand.
The Freedom Fighters realized that the same order of events that had triggered the Nazi party victory on Earth-X was happening on Earth-1: the destruction of the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence. The Freedom Fighters and Superman stopped the Earth-1 neo-Nazi party responsible, and shortly after, the Freedom Fighters returned to Earth-X.
The Crisis on Infinite Earths
As the Freedom Fighters were rebuilding their Earth, they encountered a white anti-matter wave annihilating everything in its path. This wave was the precursor for the Crisis on Infinite Earths. The Freedom Fighters investigated, only to find themselves controlled by the Psycho-Pirate and thrown at the rest of the multiverse’s heroes trying to stop the Crisis. The Harbinger helped free the mind-controlled Freedom Fighters, and saved Earth-X from being eaten away by anti-matter. The Freedom Fighters joined the other heroes in trying to stop the Crisis.
During the Crisis, Brainiac organized all of the multiverse’s villains into a single force of chaos. The Freedom Fighters joined the heroes in trying to stop the villains. However, a rousing speech from Uncle Sam united both heroes and villains against the main villain behind the Crisis: the Anti-Monitor. While the heroes were successful, events set in motion could not be stopped, and Earth-X merged with the order surviving earths to form a new single Earth, complete with a new past, present, and future.
In the wake of the Crisis, the DC multiverse was condensed into a universe. Because of that, the Freedom Fighters’ history changed. With a single Earth, there was no longer an Earth-X. This meant that the Freedom Fighters were simply an offshoot team of the All-Star Squadron that fought during the unified Earth’s World War II. Also in this new history, the Freedom Fighters helped the newly-formed Justice League fend off the second Apellaxian invasion, and had gained new members, including Midnight and the Jester. Also retconned during this time was a relationship between Phantom Lady and fellow All-Star Squadron member Iron Munro.
Rebirth and Death of the Freedom Fighters
After the Crisis, the Freedom Fighters dissolved in an unrecorded adventure. Little is known, other than the Black Condor died, Doll Man ended up in an insane asylum, Uncle Sam disappeared, and Phantom Lady, Human Bomb, and the Ray retired. Even so, the Freedom Fighters were grooming the next generation: the Ray tried to raise his son, Ray Terrill, who has gained powers; Phantom Lady took a new Phantom Lady, Dee Tyler, under her wing; the Human Bomb helped Iron Munro get over what he thought was the death of Phantom Lady; and the ghost of the Black Condor helped his successor, Ryan Kendall, become a hero.
With the help of the Spectre, Uncle Sam returned in the form of Patriot, though he would later regain his Uncle Sam persona. He reformed the Freedom Fighters for a new generation. His new team consisted of the newest generation mantle-holders: the second Black Condor, Damage, the original Human Bomb, the second Phantom Lady, and the second Ray. This team helped the JSA fight against Imperiex, and stood against the OMACs trying to wipe out Earth’s super-heroes.
During the Infinite Crisis, the Freedom Fighters were on the trail of the Secret Society of Super-Villains. Unfortunately, the Society was waiting in ambush. In a surgical strike, Sinestro killed Black Condor, Bizarro killed the Human Bomb (but not before killing Doctor Polaris), Phantom Lady was run through by Deathstroke’s sword, and Uncle Sam was beat down by Black Adam, Cheetah, and Sinestro. The only survivors were Damage (who was permanently scarred by Zoom) and the Ray (who was kidnapped by the Psycho-Pirate). Though the Ray would eventually be freed, the Freedom Fighters were no more. The deceased heroes were buried in Valhalla Cemetery.
The New Freedom Fighters
During the Infinite Crisis, the city of Bludhaven was destroyed when Chemo was dropped on the city by the Secret Society, destroying most of the population in a nuclear conflagration. One year later, the city was still under quarantine by the U.S. Government. A government agency called S.H.A.D.E., led by the manipulative Father Time, created a new team of government heroes, called Freedom’s Ring, to ensure the quarantine. Among those “heroes” were new incarnations of Doll Man (operative Lester Colt), the Human Bomb (scientist Andy Franklin), Phantom Lady (socialite Stormy Knight), and the Ray (vainglorious Stan Silver). At first, this team did Father Time’s nefarious bidding. However, after the Battle for Bludhaven, the heroes were sent out to hunt Uncle Sam, who had reformed himself anew.
Uncle Sam, with the help of a new Firebrand (activist Andre Twist), convinced the four heroes to turn on Father Time and become the new Freedom Fighters. Other new heroes soon joined their ranks: a new Black Condor (John Trujillo), Invisible Hood (Ken Thurston), Red Bee (Jenna Raleigh) and the original Miss America. Together, the heroes defeated Father Time, secretly being manipulated by the Mathmagicians of the Anti-Life Equation. Though, over the course of the mission, Stan Silver revealed himself to be a spy and killed the Invisible Hood. Silver was defeated by Ray Terrill, who also joined the Freedom Fighters.
With Father Time gone, the Freedom Fighters joined S.H.A.D.E., under the leadership of Director Robbins. This group of Freedom Fighters continued to operate, going up against Superboy-Prime, as well as stopping the inexplicable launch of America’s nuclear missiles in Colorado.
However, their new boss, Director Robbins, was just as corrupt. Robbins wanted to create a super-powered strike force under his control. The Freedom Fighters split: Uncle Sam, Doll Man, Firebrand, and Human Bomb did not agree with this new direction and left the team, while Black Condor, Miss America, Phantom Lady, the Ray, and Red Bee remained and followed Robbins. Little did either group know that the Red Bee had been infested by an alien insect hive mind. Robbins tried to bring Red Bee under his control, which increased her transformation into a vessel for the hive mind. Red Bee used her pheromones to take control of both groups of Freedom Fighters, as well as Robbins’ alternate group the Crusaders. With the help of the original Ray, who absorbed the powers of Neon the Unknown, the Red Bee was purged from the infestation. The Freedom Fighters defeated Robbins, and in the wake of yet more treachery, disbanded.
Each of the Freedom Fighters worked independently for a short time, before being reunited once again by Uncle Sam. After the Vice President of the United States was kidnapped by the a secret society called the Arcadians, Uncle Sam recruited Black Condor, Firebrand, Human Bomb, Miss America, Phantom Lady, and the Ray to help rescue her. The Arcadians demand a ransom: the Freedom Fighters must retrieve artifacts from around the country. The Freedom Fighters retrieved two of the artifacts, fighting ancient elemental demons called the Renegades for the first one, and escaping convicts called the Jailbreakers in the Grindhouse for the second one. However, the Freedom Fighters suffered significant losses: Uncle Sam was destroyed by the Renegades, Firebrand was paralyzed from the waist down, and Black Condor and Phantom Lady left the team. Firebrand dies when falling rocks land on him in his newly modified hover chair.
Countdown: The Search for Ray Palmer
During the search for Ray Palmer, the heroes discovered a world where genders were switched. In that world, a female version of Uncle Sam, called Colombia, led the Freedom Fighters. This team included Black Condor, the Demon, Human Bomb, and Phantom Man.
Most of the original Freedom Fighters were amongst the hundreds of golden age heroes featured in James Robinson’s four-issue Elseworlds series Golden Age, however most of them do not make appearances until the heroes fight the mad villain Dynaman in the series’ ending.
In an alternate reality created by the time manipulation of Lightning Lord, Saturn Queen, and Cosmic King, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern Uncle Sam recruited a new Freedom Fighters team to fight against a mind-controlled Superman & Batman’s regime. This alternate version of the Freedom Fighters, which included Doll Man, Human Bomb, Phantom Lady, the Ray, Uncle Sam, and Wonder Woman, died in an assault against Superman & Batman’s watchtower.
Batman: The Brave and the Bold
The Freedom Fighters (Black Condor, Doll Man, Human Bomb, Phantom Lady, the Ray, and Uncle Sam) appear in an episode of Batman: Brave and the Bold. The episode (episode 21 of season 2, “Cry Freedom Fighters!”) featured Batman, the Freedom Fighters, and fellow Quality Comics superhero Plastic Man fighting against the Weaponers of Qward. In this continuity, the Freedom Fighters fought out of a flying mobile base.