Freedom Fighters Pt. 19: Freedom Fighters #15
Phantom Lady finds the Ray following their roller coaster ride being hit by a strange ray and finding themselves in an unknown location…
...where Uncle Sam accuses Kathy Kane and Barbara Gordon of hiding something about their carnival. Kathy turns out the lights so the women’s alter egos, Batwoman and Batgirl, can appear in their place. Then, Black Condor and Doll Man arrive to tell them they’ve located “some kind of factory built underneath that tunnel.”
Back in space, Phantom Lady and the Ray (and a gelatinous Human Bomb) find themselves on a planet where “everything’s so small -- like Munchkinland!” Held captive by more of the little green men we met briefly in the last issue, the two heroes learn they can communicate with each other telepathically. What they then witness is terrifying:
Phantom Lady instructs the Ray to transform himself into pure energy and ignite the Human Bomb.
Even in that jelly-state he’s still volatile -- as explosive as ever! All you’ve got to do is give him a spark…
The resulting explosion reverses the process; however, there are still aliens to fight.
Back on Earth, the other Freedom Fighters and the two Bat-ladies find themselves victims of the aliens’ immobilizing force. Doll Man is able to escape it, though, by returning to normal size. This starts a chain reaction that frees the other heroes and allows them to apprehend the aliens.
The rest of the team returns from space and all ends well… except that three of the aliens escape.
In an epilogue, Black Condor asks Uncle Sam what they do now --
It’s unclear to me what’s happening on pages two and three of Freedom Fighters #15. First, I thought it was another recap of one of the team member’s origin stories, but Sandra Knight seems to already have powers when she prevents two thugs from attacking her father on the steps of the capitol building on Earth-X. At the end of the flashback, she says:
When Uncle Sam introduces himself to Batgirl, his reaction to her comment is quite humorous:
In fact, there’s a lot of humor in this issue, especially with the running gag about the love triangle among the Ray, the Human Bomb, and Phantom Lade. When Phantom Lady asks the Ray what they’re going to do about the Human Bomb’s condition, he says:
We’ve known from the beginning that #15 would be the last issue of Freedom Fighters. But now we learn a little more about how it happened at the time. It was apparently no surprise for readers when they got to the Freedom Fanmail letters page and the creative team announced:
With the expansion of the entire DC line, we were forced to drop some of the more marginal titles from our roster. Even though this comic was showing a steady climb in the upwards direction in our sales reports, it had not yet reached the point that would allow the FFers as remaining a title in one of our new format books.
They then promise that the adventure will continue in the pages of The Secret Society of Super-Villains #16 (on sale May 23rd!) as well as a new feature for the Ray in the pages of Black Lightning. Unfortunately, some promises seem made to be broken and not all of these actually came to fruition. (More about broken promises next week...)
What was all the talk of a “DC Explosion” beginning June 1st?
We all know about the “DC Implosion” in 1978 that resulted in a mass-cancellation of titles. It turns out that the last issue of Freedom Fighters preceded the Implosion… by only three months. I don’t know if that speaks well for the team and their book, or if it speaks poorly. On one hand, you can say Freedom Fighters escaped the DC Implosion; but, on the other, you can say it wasn't around to survive it.
Title: Freedom Fighters
Issue #: 15
Cover Date: July-Aug., 1978
On Sale Date: April 6, 1978
Writer: Bob Rozakis
Penciller: Dick Ayers
Inker: Jack Abel
Editor: Jack C. Harris