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Mike Aragona - Freelance Writer / Editor

Off The Rack

One Man's Views — Freedom Fighters: Issues 11 - 15 (DC Comics)

Issue #11 - December 1977, $0.35
W- Bob Rozakis, A- Dick Ayers & Jack Abel

Remember last time, Ray got shot? This issue begins with a fevered Ray remembering his origin. In a nutshell: he got hit by lightning while studying a cosmic storm. The courtroom drama of Doll Man continues as we look outside and see 4 indians begging for money to start a school fund. They barely make 2 bucks and decide to take it up with their ancestors. After some ritual drumming, they got struck by lightning from a mysterious cloud which grants each one a specific power (speed of the swiftest stallion, power of massive growth, mastery over water, and powers of a storm). So, of course, they decide to take what they want. They gave the Freedom Fighters the slip at the first bank they hit, but got nailed at the second one. Just as Doll Man is found GUILTY of murder!

Issue #12 - February 1978, $0.35
W- Bob Rozakis, A- Dick Ayers & Christian Holt, E- Jack C. Harris

So *there's* the editor! /// Doll Man is scheduled for execution and the Human Bomb starts a scrap with Uncle Sam who has some doubts about DM's innocence. After all, the legal system in HIS country can't be wrong, right? Well, after the equivalent of a slap upside the head, Uncle Sam agreed the FF must stand together. The FF get a little help, though. The man who helped Ray after he got shot? None other than Rod Reilly a.k.a. FIREBRAND. He also came from Earth-X (although we don't find out how) where he was a bored, rich socialite who turned to crime fighting to alleviate his boredom (where DO they come up with these characters? (snicker)). To wrap this up quickly: they break out DM and his girlfriend arrives shortly after to point the finger of justice at the true killer. Oh yeah. At the end of the book, the team comes face to face with an enraged Black Condor (where the hell's HE been anyhow?)

Issue #13 - April 1978, $0.35
W- Bob Rozakis, A- Dick Ayers & Jack Abel, E- Jack C. Harris

The FF go up against a possessed Black Condor but he fights them off and kidnaps Phantom Lady and Martha (DM's girlfriend). While he carries them off, Phantom Lady goes over his secret origin (he was raised by a condor and learned to fly through sheer willpower. Oooooookay...) The FF follow and then get zapped by lightning from an ominous cloud (hey, that sounds familiar!) And they become possessed. Well, all of them except Firebrand who manages to get Ray to absorb the bad energy (which was nothing more than Homilus :) ). Oh yeah, we learn that someone's after Firebrand.

Issue #14 - June 1978, $0.35
W- Bob Rozakis, A- Dick Ayers & Jack Abel, E- Jack C. Harris

The FF are at a carnival trying to relax a bit from their troubles. Their rest doesn't last long as someone set explosives on the roller coaster and our heroes spring into action! They even get a little help from Bat Girl and Bat Woman (as BW owns the carny). The bomber is captured and he looks somewhat alien. The FF decide to use their powers as part of a carny act and BW hires them. Then, after hours, half the team (PL, Ray, HB) are hypnotized and captured and replaced with synthetic clones! US, BC, FB, and DM defeat them and then confront Kathy Kane (BW) believing she's hiding something!

Issue #15 - August1978, $0.35
W- Bob Rozakis, A- Dick Ayers & Jack Abel, E- Jack C. Harris

We find Phantom Lady and Ray on a spaceship surrounded by huge blobs of jell-o (in reality, transformed humans) Meanwhile, Uncle Sam and the rest join forces with the Bat-Gals to get to the bottom of the mysterious roller coaster. Back on the alien planet, we find out that the jelly-folk are being melded together in a giant construct which will be used to conquer earth. Ray, knowing the Human Bomb is still explosive, throws some energy his way and BOOM goes the giant. All jellies revert back to normal (dressed and everything! How convenient!). Back on earth, the "gremlins" are also getting their butts kicked until they vamoose. Everything ends happily ever after. The FF decide to "stay put... establish our new identities... and then we take this show of ours on the road... so we can start looking for the Silver Ghost again! And we won't quit until we find him!" But, that'll never happen the Freedom Fighters because this is the last issue! This storyline continues in the Secret Society Of Super Villains #16!! (More on that much later)

My Thoughts So Far:
So what do I think now? Well, the storylines *were* rather far-fetched at times, but what wasn't in those years? I know I poked a lot at the issues as I reviewed them, but as I said previously, reading them when I was 10-11, I was simply caught up in the grandiosity of it all. And yet, they were still fun to go back through :) Nice memories, which made me enjoy their revival by Roy Thomas in All Star Squadron that much more. I've still got a few other crossovers with the FF, but I'm gonna take a break now as I move towards the FF's companion magazine, The Secret Society of Super Villains. Join me and my memories in future issues as I serialize those (including the 2 never-published stories from Cancelled Comics Cavalcade!!!)

(Off The Rack (c) Mike Aragona. All rights reserved. No reproduction or retransmission of this article is granted without written permission of Mike Aragona)

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