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Spirit of Liberty!

Issue #2

"Strangers in a Strange Land!"

Writer "Blustery" Bob Danner, Co-Plotters "Blustery" Bob Danner and "Svelte" Sammy Lindon


The sounds of our heroes hitting the sandy ground after coming out of the swirling mass of inter-dimensional chaos resound over the barren wasteland. The sound is the roll of thunder! CCCrrrrraaacccckkkkk!

"Well, if that doesn't jar your teeth loose, I don't know what will!" yells the Human Bomb.

"Let me help you up Sandy." says Black Condor giving Phantom Lady a hand.

"Thanks Tom!" she replies.

"Where are we?" asks Doll Man.

"Looks sort of like the African plains, or the desert area of the American southwest." states Ray.

"Well, that my friends is definitely a caravan of pack animals moving approximately 1 mile away. They are kicking up a lot of dust and look fully loaded as well and are moving due east. I highly suggest that we get a move on and follow them. They are going somewhere!" Firebrand tells his teammates.

"Agreed" says Black Condor as he launches himself into the air. "They are fully loaded, as Firebrand has already told us and moving at a quick clip! Up and at 'em Freedom Fighters!"

"Uh…there seems to be a small problem Tom!" yells Ray in utter shock. "I don't think my powers are working! I can't fly!"

"I can't grow back to normal height either, seems I am stuck at 6 inches!" exclaims Doll Man.

"Peel off one of your gloves Roy!" asks Phantom Lady. "Time to play a little catch."

"Ok, Sandy! Give me your best fastball."

A rock is tossed towards the Human Bomb as the others close their eyes and grit their teeth in anticipation of the coming blast. The only sound heard is the slap of stone against the open palm of Roy Lincoln.

"Well, I'll be damned!" exclaims the Human Bomb in amazement. "Nothing! Not even a spark! Now ain't that a kick in the head? I have to come all the way to another dimension to even be "normal"!"

"Seems that everyone's powers have been neutralized." states Firebrand.

"That would seem to be the case." replies Doll Man. All of us, with any energy-based powers, have been neutralized. Even my shrinking, although originally a chemical change, is energy based. I would be willing to bet that even Phantom Lady's blacklight ray beams have been shut down. Sandy?"

"Nothing Darrell." responds Phantom Lady. "I guess my powers have been neutralized as well. But, what about Black Condor? How can he still fly?"

"I have given that some thought as well Sandy." responds Doll Man. "I have come to the conclusion that Tom's flight powers aren't affected. They are possibly some kind of mutation or something else totally."

"I concur with that Darrell, sounds right!" replies Phantom Lady.

"That is all fine and dandy gang, but if we are to keep an eye on that caravan off in the distance, we have to get going!" yells Black Condor.

"Let's go!" replies Firebrand as he starts heading towards the distant horizon.

"Let's move out!" yells the Human Bomb as he starts removing parts of his containment suit. "At least I can shed these gloves and this helmet!"

Doll Man hitches a ride on Black Condor's shoulder and the team heads off into the unknown.

The sun beats down upon our band of heroes as they travel onward on the dusty road into the barren wasteland. Around them lies nothing more than jagged rock and dust. A wonderful place for the likes of scorpions and sidewinders. They have traveled on and on for hours without sighting so much as a blade of grass and their feet are aching and throats are parched for water.

"Wish, I had one of those cold, frothy beverages that I was wasting on the flame ups, on my grill back home, about now!" the Human Bomb whispers.

"So do I Roy, so do I." replies Firebrand.

Doing several barrel loops and diving quickly down to his comrades, Black Condor gives a yell that all are more than pleased to hear. "Ahead, an oasis!" he states with a wide grin across his face. "Just ahead about half a mile or so, just off to the side of the roadway. Doll Man and I will meet you there."

As the ground based team makes it to the all-to-welcome greenery of the oasis, they are pleasantly surprised by the gift given them by Black Condor and Doll Man. Fresh dates and cool water. The old friends gather together in the shade of the trees and take in their sustenance. As they eat, many of their thoughts return to the past.

"Ow!" exclaims the Human Bomb as he sits down under the tall trees. "Didn't know how much my arthritic back bothered me until Sam left."

"Yeah Roy, I feel like I have aged quite a bit in the last 20 years or so myself." responds Rod Reilly. "My left jab use to be a lot more powerful. The old gray mule, she ain't what she use to be!"

Slight chuckles are heard around the camp, but are interrupted by the Ray.

"We have all aged quite a bit since Sam disappeared. Seems that being around him in the early days and even less-frequently in the 50's and 60's was enough to retard the "natural" aging process. We were kept young just by being with him."

"Those were the days pal, those were the days!" exclaims the Human Bomb as he lies back in the cool shade.

The teammates begin to talk of times past and the time seems to fly. Updates on their lives are given and during the talking, the Human Bomb leans back and whispers in the reclining Phantom Lady's ear.

"Tell me Sandy, what happened to your job as headmistress of that "school"?"

"Well Roy, I just got tired of it and wanted to do something that I worked hard to do. I went to school back years ago to get my degree in the sciences and felt like it was the time to put my education to work. I felt like it was time to do something that I have loved since the early years." Sandy says with a sigh. "Although, I will try to keep up with the "old job" as much as my new career will allow."

"Well, glad to have you back. I have missed you a lot!" the Human Bomb replies with a boyish grin on his face.

"I have missed you too Roy!" Phantom Lady hesitates. "I, uh…have missed all of you!"

"Gang!" yells Doll Man from the top of one of the trees. "We have two riders on horseback and they will be moving right past us on the roadway!"

The team scatters for cover as the two riders stop at the lush, but small desert paradise.

The riders are wrapped in tattered tan robes and hoods and walk their mounts quickly to the spring of the oasis.

"Dessa!" yells the first rider. "Bring the animals to the spring, we have to get to the village before nightfall!"

"Yes, Zarek!" replies the younger man. "Father will be expecting us soon!"

"Yes, we must return before to long Dessa! That evil devil may return to the village at any time to reek havoc on our people. I swear that I will have my revenge on him for taking Adira! For taking my dearest wife!" Zarek replies with conviction.

"You speak foolishly Zarek!" responds Dessa. "That sorcerer would have you killed before you could get close enough to strike! You couldn't even get close to his Grand Vizier, Mersufon, before he would cut you down!"

"Shhh!" whispers Zarek. "There are others about, just look at the tracks and the date pits on the ground. Scout around Dessa and look close. That devil's soldiers may be watching us even now!"

The two brothers start to search the brush, when out steps Black Condor surprising them. From behind the Ray and Firebrand close in.

"We didn't mean to frighten you my friends." exclaims Condor. "We seek out the evil one that you have spoken of. He may be holding a friend of ours captive and we must rescue him."

Jumping back the two brothers are surprised to suddenly be surrounded by strangers in strange garb. The youngest speaks to Black Condor.

"We did not know that you were here and we are very sorry for intruding upon you! Please, don't turn us over to the master!" cries the younger brother Dessa.

"Don't plead Dessa!" yells Zarek.

Grinning, Firebrand approaches them and says "Don't worry, we are not with your master! We are travelers from very far away and would like to hear more about this master of yours. Please, can you tell us about him!"

"I know of only one person who can tell you the complete story, and we will take you to him! Follow us closely and put on these clothes that we have in our packs to cover your strange garments." replies Zarek.

"Seems this may just be our lucky day!" exclaims Roy Lincoln.

The Freedom Fighters and their newfound friends strike back out on the road heading east.

"Where are we heading?" asks the Ray.

"We are heading to our village which just lies ahead, only a few hours travel!" replies Zarek.

Soon the team makes its way into a large village made up of homes made out of mud brick and rough wood. It is a village of many old men, many women and small children. It is a village of hunger and despair.

Zarek and Dessa lead the heroes through the bleak streets past the many closed homes and by the well, where several women and children are busy drawing water. Many villagers start to whisper to each other at the mere sight of the strange group. Out of nowhere, comes a rider in military garb screaming for the villagers to stand aside. Sparks fly from the feet of his mount as they strike the hard stones of the village streets.

"Make way for a soldier of the Caliph!" he cries. "Make way or fall below the hoofs of my steed!"

Suddenly, from the well, a small girl not more than 4 or 5 years old, darts away from her mother screaming in terror at the shock of seeing the soldier. "Nooooo!" cries the woman. "She will be trampled by him!"

The beating hooves of the large animal steer directly at the child, bearing down upon her. The soldier pays little attention to the coming slaughter of the girl.

Out of the blue, a figure dressed in tattered rags and red pants lunges, under the neck of the great beast and snatches the child from the clutches of pending doom. Sliding past the girl's mother in front of the gathering of women, lands Firebrand with the frightened youngster crying in his arms. The horse and rider streak past and don't even hesitate to look back.

"You need to look both ways before you cross the street little one!" exclaims the crimson acrobat as he hands the girl back to her grateful mother.

"Oh, thank you sir!" the mother cries. "She would have surely been killed if not for your saving her! I owe you a debt that can never be repaid!"

"Uh…don't worry about it Ma'am!" he replies. "Just as long as she is alright!"

"Quickly!" Zarek shouts. "Get in here, before the soldier returns!" he yells as he motions Firebrand into a two-story home.

"Great going Firebrand!" yells the Ray.

"Yeah, great job Rod." the Human Bomb says as he slaps Rod Reilly on the back.

The team is brought in front of an elderly, gray bearded man and he is told by Zarek that the strangers are friends and they look for one of their own. The two whisper back and forth for a few moments and then the old man rises and begins to speak.

"So strangers, you seek to know the truth about the evil Caliph that now rules our land. I can sense that you are decent and honorable people, and from what you just did outside my home, I feel that you can be trusted. I will tell you about the dark days of our land. I am Esak, I am the wise man of the village. In my younger days, the land was lush and green with life and provided everything that we needed to live. The old ruler tried to rule this land with kindness and generosity. He lived not to far from the village in his palace; the palace now haunted by the deeds of the evil Caliph. The people were a happy folk, and gathered at the gates of the palace to do their trading and marketing. Food was plentiful and the ruler made sure that "no one" went hungry or without shelter. The kingdom was content. The land flourished."

"So kind sir, what happened to change all of this?" asks Phantom Lady in a concerned voice.

"What happened was the coming of the demon Caliph, the dictator that now rules and destroys our land!" speaks Esak sadly. "One cursed day, the foul fiend appeared in our midst, before our benevolent ruler and decreed himself a friend to the people. He demonstrated to our King and his court, his magic. Magic only spoken of in myth and legend. He offered himself to our ruler as chief counselor and was put through many tasks to prove his worth. Passing every test with surprising ease, he approached the King and with but a whisper was finally accepted by the ruler as his grand vizier. Soon, the Vizier began to take on much of the King's power. He began to spend much time with the army of the King and it's generals. He spent many nights locked away in the towers of the palace, casting unknown, but "no-doubt" evil spells."

Esak continues on, "In the meantime, as the Vizier grew ever more powerful, our ruler began to grow ever more weak and sickly. Finally, the dread day came when the Vizier and the military leaders deposed the good king and overthrew him. The King and his family were forced out of the palace and sentenced to live in the wilderness."

Esak concludes, "Since that time, the land has withered and much has fallen into a desert wasteland. The rightful King has passed on, and his people suffer. The young men are quickly snapped up into the army of the Caliph and many of the young women are carted off to become his slaves and concubines. They say that the Caliph is building a mighty army to invade another land. They say that he is building an evil machine in the bowels of the once great palace and that his magic has grown to unimaginable heights. He sits upon his mighty thrown, fingering the strange amulet he always wears around his neck, with his own vizier whispering in his ear. Something must be done to stop him from destroying this land!" The old man then falls down into his chair and breathes a great sigh of exhaustion.

"I will not rest" speaks Zarek "until the evil Caliph is destroyed and my own wife, Adira is returned to me!"

"Dessa, what happened to Zarek's wife?" asks Phantom Lady.

"She was taken from us and made into a concubine for the pleasure of the Caliph!" he replies. "Zarek has been heart-broken ever since and lives for the day when he may rescue her from the evil clutches of the Caliph!"

"It seems my friends, that our two agendas may coincide!" speaks Doll Man. "We offer our help to you in return for helping us find our missing friend."

"Then we have a pact!" cries the young Dessa.

Our heroes eat a small meal and quickly retire to different rooms of the house to bed down for the night.

"Man, these people sound like they have had it rough for a long time, don't you think Tom?" asks Happy Terrill.

"Sure sounds like it Happy!" responds Black Condor. "We must do everything that we can to help them gain their freedom from this evil tyrant."

Meanwhile in the next room, Doll Man, Human Bomb and Firebrand stretch out for the night.

"Last time I spent the night with you, Mr. Lincoln your snoring shook the walls, remember these walls are only made of mud!" says Doll Man in a sarcastic manner.

"Well, don't lie in the way of the door money-grubber! You might get stepped on!" retorts the Human Bomb.

"I wish you two, would shut the hell up and just go to sleep!" replies Firebrand as he turns to face the wall.

In another room, Sandra Knight lies in her makeshift bed and thinks of what lies ahead for her and the rest of the team. She wonders what has happened to Uncle Sam and whether it was such a good idea to undertake this task. Her mind races and she finally shakes her head and tries to get some rest, to get some sleep.

"God help us all!" she says to herself as she rolls over.

Early the next morning they are awakened by a commotion on the lower floor of the house and are surprised to see the elite guard of the Caliph enter their rooms.

"Tom, they're here!" cries the Ray. "The soldiers of the Caliph have found us!" he yells as he slams a right cross into the jaw of the first soldier to come towards him. Down goes the soldier in a heap.

"Cursed dog!" yells the next soldier. "You will pay for your insolence!" A screeching shot is fired from a strange looking rifle and finds the chest of the Ray an easy target. Happy Terrill drops to his knees in agony, only to be kicked into unconsciousness by another soldier.

"Damn you!" yells Black Condor as he lunges at the soldiers only to be stopped by the dull thud of a rifles butt to the back of his skull. Down he goes like a brick.

In the next room over, Firebrand wakes up Doll Man and the Human Bomb as the guards enter their room. Leaping at the lead soldier, Firebrand rolls himself into a ball and strikes the soldier knocking him and the others back into the hall. "Darrell, Roy, get up!" he yells. Falling, Firebrand leg sweeps the only soldier left standing in front of him and then, pounces on top of him, shattering his jaw with a mighty right jab. Getting to his feet he doesn't see the shot that is fired into his back that incapacitates him. His last cry is for Sandra Knight. "Phantom Lady…get out…"

The Human Bomb charges towards the now half closed door and is prepared to face the onslaught that lies ahead. Doll Man rushes to his side and they move quickly to intercept the soldiers at the door. Suddenly, the door is thrust open with great force, striking Darrell Dane full front and knocking him back into the brick wall. The last thing he sees as he slides down the wall and falls behind the bed is his old friend Roy Lincoln being triple teamed by three of the guards. "Damn it…got to get to my friends…" are his last words before darkness claims him.

As the guards rush into her room, Phantom Lady grabs a clay pot that is next to her bed and smashes it over the head of the first soldier, sending him to dreamland. With a sweeping head kick the next combatant is also sent following his comrade. She flails her way into the guards at her door, intent on taking as many of them down as she can. They simply overwhelm her. "You can't stop us!" she cries as they chain her hands and feet.

"Oh yes, they can my beauty!" speaks a longhaired, gnarled, crooked looking man in a long black robe. "We already have!" he muses as he strokes her cheek with his long, thin, fingers sending a chill through her body.

"Take them all downstairs, but be careful not to harm this one. She may make a great toy for the master to play with!" exclaims the dark figure. "The master awaits outside in the square!"

"Yes, Grand Vizier!" the captain of the elite answers.

Bound hands and feet together the Freedom Fighters along with Esak and Dessa are taken to the well in the center of town and forced to their knees in front of a figure of total and utter evil. A figure that is sitting on a throne on top of a dais holding the chain of a beautiful, scantily clad, blonde, slave girl.

Thrown to the ground, Phantom Lady looks up at the strange figure sitting on the throne and comes to the realization that she knows him.

"Oh, my Heavens! YOU! We haven't even seen or heard of you in ages!" is her only cry.

"Well, my lady as you can see, I am quite well and very, very happy to see you!" retorts the evil figure on the dais as his long, fingernails "click" on his prized amulet. "So glad that you could join me for breakfast, ha, ha, Ha, Ha, HA, HA, HA!" his laughter echoes off into the cold morning air, sending shivers across the gathered group.

To be continued in issue #3.



And now a word from the writer:

"Hello everyone!" and thanks for taking the time to read my tale of the Freedom Fighters. I am well pleased at the majority of the feedback that I have gotten about it so far. Although no one can please everyone, most of you have responded positively about the way I am handling the characters so far. For this, I thank you.

A few words about myself, I feel, are in order here. I am a 30 year comic buff (collector/reader) and although I consider myself quite knowledgeable in both DC and Marvel, it was DC that I really fell in love with way back when. As a small child, I was very lucky to have a mother that worked at the local drug store and bought me comics or "funny books" as she called them, and read them to me. I was weaned on books like Fantastic Four, Justice League of America, Detective Comics, Superman, Flash, Avengers, etc. Great characters like Superman, Batman, the Justice Society of America, the Thing, Captain America, etc. Great artists like Kirby, Dillin, Infantino, etc. Great writers like Lee, Broome, Fox, etc. I loved these comics and still do, but the one thing that attracted me more to DC than Marvel was the thing that Marvel was well known for. Reality! Marvel was known for it's comics being more realistic, but this is what steered me towards DC more. Reading a DC comic was like "comfort food", was like going home. I knew that no matter what "crap" was going on in my life, or in the world, that if I picked up a DC comic that Batman was still Batman, that the JLA and the JSA would team up and clean house on some baddies, and that the Flash would always clean Captain Cold's clock! They remained the same. They were reliable.

Sometime around the time I was 13 or so, I stopped buying them. Later in my sophomore year of high school, a friend reintroduced me to comics by allowing me to read his X-Men. I read the stories of the original team and there were some very friendly names listed in the credits. Lee, Kirby, etc. I was crazy about them and later began to read the stories of that teams second generation by Claremont and Byrne. To this friend, all I can say is "thanks Andrew!" Later on, I began to read a title called "New Teen Titans" by Wolfman and Perez, and this brought me back, full circle, to DC again. This time I collected for several years, but finally quit sometime in early 1990's due to the big "glut" that struck the market. I call this the "dark and gritty era". This was the time that followed after two of the greatest books, IMHO, ever written in comic form, the Watchmen and the Dark Knight. Don't get me wrong, I loved them both and highly recommend them to anyone that hasn't read them. The only problem was that these to "dark and gritty" books begat other "dark and gritty" books and for a time comics became to well…dark and gritty for me. No longer lighthearted fantasy, but had turned into harsh reality, something that I could get enough of on the job. Now, I don't collect much at all, only the stuff that really reaches out and "grabs" me. However, I still hold these characters near and dear to my heart and love to reminisce about them. A personal note to you all, I am NOT a writer by any means. Heck, I had 5 years of art in school and so writing is a "new" thing to me. I have to learn how to "draw pictures" with words now. I am rambling now and will conclude this part of my introduction.

In my Freedom Fighters series, I will try my best to stay as accurate and true to heart as I can on these characters. Again, I am mostly familiar only with their Silver Age appearances, primarily their 1970's series, but will attempt to delve into their pasts as well. Now this isn't saying that there won't be some "selective ignoring" or retconning as I believe that it is called now a days. Personally, I hate when a writer retcons anything and I consider myself something of a continuity cop. However, there are somethings in comics just begging to be retconned or revised. It is very tough in the modern day to write anything about a Golden Age character without doing some type of retcons. There is usually a lot of baggage left over from "actual" writers of the characters that never "jived" with the character to begin with or just was plain "terrible" writing. I am sure that some of you will disagree with me and some will agree. All I ask is that you give me a chance to write the stories and if you don't like them, tell me. Heck, I am open to any and all suggestions you may have.

Again, thanks all for reading and letting me know what you think. I love to hear from all of you. Next issue, I hope to delve into my take on the aging of these characters and what "effects" the presence of Uncle Sam had on them during their superhero careers.

Keep 'em Flying,

Bobby

 

The DC Universe of characters, which includes 90% of all the ones written about on this site, their images and logos are all legally copyrighted to DC Comics and it's parent company of Time/Warner. We make absolutely no claim that they belong to us. We're just a bunch of fans with over active imaginations and a love of writing.