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Freedom Fighters Pt. 5: Freedom Fighters #3

New York: a city with a lot on its mind. And tonight, all that urban anxiety is concentrated here -- a newly deserted mansion whose aged walls shield a sextet of super-powered fugitives.

Surrounded by the police at the end of the last issue, the team works together to escape. The Human Bomb creates a blinding flash and earthquake. The Black Condor flies into the air towing the rest of the heroes behind, while the Ray rides a light beam.

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12 hours later, we meet a new character:

Ted demonstrates the last characteristic by whacking his wife in the head with his briefcase and killing her.

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Meanwhile, unable to return to the armory, our heroes have settled into “makeshift headquarters in a dust-encrusted loft.” Darrel returns from errands with the electronics to make an invisibility cloak using Happy’s light absorption power and Sandy’s ability to become a phantom.

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Compelled to thwart a nearby bank robbery, the now-invisible heroes surprise the criminals. However, two strange things are happening at the same time: an odd spacecraft materializes in the sky and Arthur T. Sommar stumbles out of the bank.

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Inside the spacecraft, two children from the anti-matter world of Qward decide to give the bad guys an edge and fire a beam at Sommar that turns him into Skragg, the super sniper!

The attack leaves the Freedom Fighters stunned. They are not invisible to Skragg and battle ensues. The Human Bomb and the Ray bicker (“Who died and left you in charge, mutant?), but work together to stop Skragg. Doll Man, Black Condor, and Uncle Sam swoop in to seal the deal.

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All seems calm until…

This round ends with Skragg literally hanging from a ledge. The Ray grabs him, but his hand disappears, leaving Doll Man to conclude he suffered a side effect of the power transfusion that made them invisible.

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Back at the loft, Darrell realizes that the police know their real names and, since he signed the lease, it’s just a matter of time before they’re located again. Phantom Girl has another naive thought; she says if they surrender, surely the police will believe them. The others shoot down that idea, leaving Sam to stare into the sky and say,

In all the cosmos… there must be somewhere the Freedom Fighters belong. Mustn’t there?

Notes

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In the letters column for Freedom Fighters #3, Freedom Fan Mail, the editors comment on the bickering among characters that reader Mike White (and I) noticed:

Remember that the team didn't really form voluntarily - they were the survivors of the extended World War Two on Earth-X, and had to band together. It's natural that now, with that pressure relieved, some cracks should begin to show in the alliance.

Remember? Uh, I don’t believe this particular detail was ever shared with us… that they were forced to band together. I like that insight; however, I’d like to see it in the story rather than on the letters page.

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Reader Harvey Sobel would have preferred a different setting for the series:

...it would have been more plausible for the Freedom Fighters to stay on their own world and help it get back on its feet. This would have allowed you an Earth without any other superheroes and the team would have been free to resume their old occupations.

The editors disagreed:

...do you REALLY think you would have enjoyed reading stories about a half-wrecked world where all the super-heroes and super-villains except the FF had been killed? There aren’t even interesting monsters on Earth-X, as there are on Kamandi’s Earth After Disaster. In short, we think the world shift saved you from being as bored as the Freedom Fighters themselves were.

I don’t like it when editors defend their decisions on a letters page. It places them in an adversarial position with the reader. I think Harvey Sobel had a great idea. It would be the writers’ fault if they couldn’t create an interesting story out of the setting.

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Back to the story at hand, we’re still learning about the powers of the heroes since they’ve migrated to DC. The Ray uses “one more trick” in his “repertoire that this earth hasn’t yet seen.”

Sure, I can absorb light -- but what goes in, must also come out.

He throws light into the policemen’s eyes to temporarily blind them. At the same time, Phantom Lady generates a “smoke screen” created by her blacklight ray. As for unique uses of a power, the Human Bomb must take off his gloves and touch his hand to his chest to start his heart after a blast of Skragg’s ray stops it.

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This issue is more substantial than the last and the concept of misunderstood heroes being wanted for crimes they didn’t commit is a good one. It’s hard to tell where the story will settle, and there will continue to be shake ups with the creators from now until issue #8.

Title: Freedom Fighters

Issue #: 3

Cover Date: July/Aug. 1976

On Sale Date: April 6, 1976

Writer: Martin Pasko

Penciller: Ramona Fradon

Inker: Juan Canale

Colorist: Liz Berube

Editor: Gerry Conway


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