Freedom Fighters Pt. 16: Freedom Fighters #12
Guilty was the verdict… and for the murder of N.Y. District Attorney David Pearson, Darrel (Doll Man) Dane would pay the ultimate penalty -- death in the electric chair!
All appeals had been denied! Even a request for mercy from the Justice League of America has been ignored! And so, in the first nationally broadcast execution, Doll Man will die tonight…
The Human Bomb once again expresses his frustration that the rest of the team has done nothing to help Doll Man, and Phantom Lady agrees with him this time. But when Uncle Sam asks, “Have you ever considered… that Darrel… might really be… guilty?...
Finally, Sam is convinced.
Meanwhile, The Ray watches the news with his captor/savior in an upstate New York cabin. Finally, the mystery man reveals himself, “I’ve kept my name a mystery for these three months because I was sure you and your fellow Freedom Fighters were after me…
A flashback of his origin continues with new information…
When the Nazis won the war, I was able to deal with -- and double-cross -- them… I would sell them secret blueprints of resistance groups’ headquarters -- then, as Rod Reilly, set the Nazis up to be wiped out by those groups.
When the water became too hot for him, Firebrand took an escape route to Earth-One. Because everyone from Earth-X, including the Freedom Fighters, thought Firebrand was a traitor, Rod believed the team had followed him in order to take him back to Earth-X.
On Death Row, Martha encourages Doll Man to shrink and escape his cell; however, we learn that S.T.A.R. Labs “came up with a gizmo which nullifies” his powers. When he re-tells his side of the story, Martha believes the airtight case against Doll Man has just sprung a leak…
Nothing is so uncontainable as the power of a determined woman… and legal barriers which might have impeded Martha Roberts tumble quickly! Call it a hunch… call it a last hope… call it a Herculean effort to save the man she loves… call it a success!
Racing against time to deliver her evidence…
Meanwhile, Doll Man is strapped to the electric chair, leaving Mary Ellen Covington from WGNY-TV to report, “It looks like Doll Man will die alone this evening!”
Assistant D.A. Tulane is a little too eager to flip the switch when…
Uncle Sam releases Doll Man and the team vanishes into the night, missing Martha’s entrance with evidence that will exonerate him. It seems that Tulane was previously employed by Raphael Van Zandt, aka the Silver Ghost, and was planted in the D.A.s office to advance the villain’s plot to regain legal rights to Manhattan.
Celebrating from the WGNY-TV news van, Martha apologizes to Darrel that it went so far. “I had all the evidence, and time to spare… but my car ran off the road when I… when I saw…
Freedom Fighters #12 mentions two events that I’d like to see unfold in full length stories. One is the Justice League requesting mercy for Doll Man. The other is Firebrand setting-up the Nazis on Earth-X after they won World War II.
On the second note, it’s interesting that, along with everyone else on Earth-X, the Freedom Fighters believed Firebrand was a criminal. It’s ironic because they, of course, are believed to be criminals on Earth-One.
It’s also coincidental that the Freedom fighters came to Earth-One because they were bored on Earth-X after the end of the war. That’s exactly why Rod Reilly became Firebrand: he was bored.
Reflecting on Firebrand’s “transparent shirt” as depicted in both his origin story in 1941’s Police Comics #1 and in his DC debut in 1978’s Freedom Fighters #12, I have to say that the 1941 artwork is much better. The 1978 version doesn’t really look like it’s transparent. I guess I don’t know if it’s still supposed to be.
Finally, it’s interesting that the death of a relatively second-tier character like Doll Man would be the first televised execution. The plot point certainly elevates the status of the entire team of Freedom Fighters.
Until next week, I’ll leave you with this fun ad for “TV Posters” of the era that includes the infamous swimsuit photo of Farrah Fawcett-Majors:
Title: Freedom Fighters
Issue #: 12
Cover Date: Jan.-Feb., 1978
On Sale Date: April 6, 1978
Writer: Bob Rozakis
Penciller: Dick Ayers
Inker: Alfredo P. Alcala
Editor: Jack C. Harris