Sunday, August 06, 2006

Freedom Fighters #6

Freedom Fighters (vol. 2) #6, January-February 1977, National Periodical Publications (DC Comics)

I've been referencing the A-Team in my blogs a lot lately, but I would be remiss not to suggest a parallel with this incarnation of the Freedom Fighters, because in this issue, Uncle Sam and company are operating incognito, trying to clear their names of a crime they didn't commit. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Now, the Human Bomb is a far cry from B.A. Baracus, but their wardrobe's are just as dated! Seriously, some of these old '70s comics are easily comparable to early '80s TV dramas, as their lead characters often find themselves in some precarious situations. Ever see the episode when the A-Team defeated an old ranch despot by effortlessly riding around town on horseback? Well, at the beginning of this issue, the Ray and Black Condor stumble onto a racetrack mid-battle and inexplicably saddle up with ease to bring down the Silver Ghost's helpless henchmen. Funny, how the adventurous exploits of the past are considered cheesy folly by today's melodramatic standards.

Later this issue, while the Freedom Fighters continue to elude law enforcement, they uncover a cult and narrowly thwart its attempt to usher in the end of the world through the resurrection of a powerful demon. I don't know if the Fighters often encountered the supernatural, but, while the conflict was an excellent exhibition of their superpowers, I presume that the nature of their team is best served combating international threats on a more political spectrum. With a leader like Uncle Sam, I assume America is always your number one priority. I was more intrigued by this issue's subplot, and it left me wondering how Uncle Sam would really react in this troubling legal context. It's one thing when Americans become too apathetic to protect our nation's founding ideals, as explored in the Vertigo Uncle Sam miniseries by Alex Ross, but what if the U.S. used those ideals -- upholding the letter of the law -- against him?

Despite their serious predicament, the Freedom Fighters skate through this installment with very little legitimate concern for their welfare; the Human Bomb is more preoccupied with his inability to shed his protective suit safely, and in the end, the team goes undercover in a superhero-themed parade. Therein lies the usual goofy but lovable fanfare of the '70s. I know DC is relaunching another Freedom Fighters series in the wake of their latest crisis, but I don't know how well these characters can stand up on their own in today's cultural context. Frankly, if the series doesn't deal directly with our current tumultuous international climate, what kind of "freedom" are these heroes really striving for? The A-Team fought for their own freedom. How long can the Freedom Fighters simply do the same?

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