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Uncle Sam, Doll Man, Phantom Lady, The Ray, The Black Condor, The Human Bomb, Firebrand, Plastic Man. Heroes from the Golden Age, who fought for freedom, and justice during World War II and now carry that fight on into the modern day as The Freedom Fighters



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


Issue #5


"The Search for Uncle Sam!"

Prelude_____________________________________________________

Standing in Independence Hall, Philadelphia PA, once home of the 1st Continental Congress, is the enigmatic Phantom Stranger. Surrounding him is a weary, yet happy group of super-heroes, once known as the Freedom Fighters. The Black Condor, Doll Man, The Human Bomb, The Ray, Firebrand, Phantom Lady and Plastic Man have just returned from a world in another dimension, where the Spirit of Liberty, better known as Uncle Sam, was being held captive by the evil villain, Wotan. After defeating the vile villain, freeing the enslaved people there, and finding the Spirit of Uncle Sam trapped in a mystical amulet, they have returned to our world ready to free their friend. But things aren't quite that easy!

"Congratulations Freedom Fighters," spoke the Phantom Stranger, "you have located Uncle Sam and brought his spirit forth, ready to be freed!" Raising his hand and pointing at our weary band he continued, "You gave hope to a group of people who had none and now they are free from tyranny. The evil that once engulfed that world has been scattered across time and space, and now they have been liberated. However, your task still isn't quite finished!"

"What has to be done now Stranger?" asked the Black Condor, nursing the wound on his shoulder.

The dark figure looked down at Senator Thomas Wright II AKA Richard Grey Jr. AKA the Black Condor, and spoke, "A suitable replacement body must be found to house the spirit now in your possession, a person willing to take on the duties and responsibilities that come with being "Uncle Sam!"

Brushing back her long raven hair, Sandra Knight AKA Phantom Lady said, "But that will be impossible!"

"Impossible?" replied the Phantom Stranger. "Impossible, after what you all have already done? I think not!"

"Err…I see your point!" replied Phantom Lady with a half-grin on her face.

"But where do we start looking for this "person" Stranger?!" asked Happy Terrill AKA the Ray.

Raising both his hands above his head, the Phantom Stranger spoke, "Search and ye shall find. The person that will take on the mantle of Uncle Sam will be found within the four corners of this great nation. Good luck in your further quest Freedom Fighters. My work here is done for now, and I have more elsewhere, for such are the affairs of the Phantom Stranger!" And with a wave of his cape, and a flash of light, he was gone.

"Wow! A true spectacle!" exclaimed Firebrand.

"Awesome!" retorted the Black Condor.

"Yes, I have to get a cape," replied Plas, "they do add a lot of flash and style to a costume, don't they?"

Phantom Lady said laughing, "Plas, you never change!"

"The best things in life never do beautiful!" he responded chuckling at himself.

Growing to his normal size, Doll Man asked, "What now?"

"There is only one thing we can do Darrell, we search the country for a "host" body for Sam!" replied Black Condor.

Rising to his feet and rubbing the back of his head, Firebrand added to what Black Condor had already started, "It would seem that we split up the team and start the search."

"Agreed!" exclaimed the ever-anxious Ray.

"Yes, agreed!" replied the others.

"Oy!" cried out the Human Bomb. "Here we go again!"

Stretching his neck around his comrades, Plastic Man yelled, "Wait here, I've got some things that will help us out on this search! Give me a minute folks!"

After a few moments, Plas returned and handed each Freedom Fighter a small, concealable communications earpiece.

"It's good to have friends in high places, eh?" he snickered. "I don't think that the Justice League will mind me borrowing these for just a little while."

"But Plas, you talk like your not going with us!" Phantom Lady spoke adjusting her communications device.

"Yeah, what's up Plas?" asked Roy Lincoln AKA the Human Bomb.

"Well, friends for the time being, I am still a card-carrying member of the world's greatest superteam, present company excluded of course!" Plastic Man replied. "I will however, monitor your progress and act as your communications expert while you look for a "host" body for Sammy. If you need me, all you have to do is yell and I'll come running!"

"How are things back in Washington D.C., Tom?" asked the Ray.

"Fine Hap, I told Margot that I would be out of touch for a few days. I hope it doesn't take that long, but who knows? She'll cover for me until then." spoke the Black Condor, looking at his close friend.

"Where the Hell is Darrell?" asked the Human Bomb.



Where was Darrell Dane? On the phone of course talking to the ever beautiful Mrs. Dane. Darrell tried to briefly explain to his wife what had happened, to her great disbelief.

"Darrell, my dear, now that is one for the record books!" Martha stated.

"Yes, sweetheart, it truly is!" he replied. "Anything happening at Quality*?"

*Quality Chemical Company-a national chemical company founded by Doll Man and the Human Bomb, for which Doll Man is now the CEO-Ye Writer.

"Nothing there dear, but Chuck Lane called from New York. He said something about seeing some racist group on a talk show and needing to tell someone about it!" she spoke as she recalled further details.

"Chuck! I haven't seen or heard from him in ages it seems. I'll just have to recontact him as soon as we finish up, which I hope only takes a few days…but who knows?" Doll Man said with a sigh.

 


 

With the amenities and "I love you's" over Darrell Dane returned to his friends as they all gathered together in the great hall of freedom to discuss their options. As they stood around, trying to decide their next move, it was the Black Condor who spoke up in his deep, commanding voice and said, "Gang, it is apparent to me that we have to split up into smaller teams for this search. I'll take Happy and we'll head towards my beloved California and the west."

"I'll take Sandy and we'll head towards the southeast! That is if she'll have me?" replied Roy Lincoln.

"Of course Roy!" spoke Phantom Lady.

"I'll take Doll Man and we'll take the northeast of course!" responded Firebrand as he smacked his fist into his hand.

"I'll take a BLT on toast and monitor you all from the JLA HQ!" quipped Plastic Man.

"That's not all you'll take Plas," spoke the Human Bomb, "here is the amulet holding the spirit of Sam; keep it safe!"

"Of…of…course I will!" he replied.

"If anything or anyone unusual is found, don't forget to contact the others. Also we'll meet back here in a few days. I'll leave "how many" up to each individual team's discretion, but not too many!" exclaimed the Black Condor as the group split up and went their separate ways to search for Uncle Sam!

Chapter 1_____________________________________________________

"From California…"

Saving their strength and boarding a chartered flight for the west coast, Senator Thomas Wright II and Happy Terrill eased back in their chairs and smiled at each other in disbelief of the events that had occurred.

"Hard to believe Hap, where we were just a few hours ago!"

"You've got that right Tom, and I do mean…hours! What seemed liked days to us were only a few hours on our world, according to what Plas was saying."

"Excuse me Senator," spoke a gorgeous blonde flight attendant, "anything that I can get for you gentlemen?"

"Oh, nothing ma'am but perhaps your telephone number?" replied Happy Terrill with a shameless glint in his eye.

"Hap!" cried out the Senator.

"Perhaps later then gentlemen," the young lady answered, grinning from ear to ear, and walking towards the front of the plane.

Looking at his old friend with astonishment, Thomas Wright spoke, "You're old enough to be her grandfather!"

"She doesn't know that! I may be old, but I'm not dead! Besides, aren't I one of the worlds most reputed adventurers?" kidded Happy.

Laughter echoed throughout the plane as the two heroes kicked back, and got some rest before the plane touched down in Los Angeles.

Soon the duo found themselves in a limousine on the glittering streets of Tinsel Town. The bustle of downtown LA streets, along with the smell of smog, made Senator Thomas Wright II's heart leap.

"It certainly is great to be back at home!" he exclaimed. "When you're a Senator from California and spend the majority of your time actually in Washington D.C., it's such a relief to find yourself back in the "Golden State"."

"Well, any idea where we start our search for Sam, Tom?" asked Happy Terrill.

"I was thinking of that on the plane Hap. All of the obvious natural and historical landmarks out here in the west for sure. The Golden Gate Bridge, Mt. Rushmore, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, also Pearl Harbor and perhaps even the Hollywood sign. The possibilities are virtually endless, but we must hit the obvious ones."

"Pearl Harbor," spoke Happy, "I remember well that "day of infamy"! The ambush that virtually destroyed our fighting naval forces. I also remember the incident there that claimed the life of our friends, Red Torpedo, Magno, and the others as well. But you know what really troubled me worse than all the death and destruction Tom?"

"No, tell me pal!" responded Tom.

"Well, the look on Sam's face. The utter despair that I could see in his eyes, and the grief that had over taken him. It was one of the saddest sights that I had ever seen. This was the one time that he looked completely lost and alone. Like a great weight had been placed on his shoulders. Thank God that he was, what he was, for I don't think that a normal man could have survived it."

"Marquis Hotel, Gentlemen!" a voice cried out.

"Thank you Manuel, you never forget do you?" said the Senator shaking hands with his Latino friend.

Manuel responded, "I haven't forgotten over all these years my friend! Enjoy your time here at home Senator; call if you need me. It was good seeing you again as well, Mr. Terrill."

"Good seeing you again too, Manuel!" spoke Happy as he waved at the driver and he and Tom entered the luxury hotel.

Amid the luxurious accommodations of one of LA's finest hotels, our terrific twosome decided to get some rest for they had a long day ahead of them. Retiring to their grand suite, the two called it a day and fell into utter exhaustion.

Interlude_____________________________________________________

Another busy day started bright and early for Martha Roberts Dane. Up and at 'em early, she was hard at it cleaning up the mess from the previous nights 4th of July festivities. Dressed in an old sweatshirt and with a scarf tied in her red hair, she set about her task. Many years ago, she had settled into the position of wife and hostess and had abandoned here chosen profession of news reporter and her identity as Doll Girl. It didn't matter to her, for she deeply loved the man that she had married and theirs was one of the strongest marriages around.

Standing with hands on hips and overlooking the damage she mumbled to herself, "Darrell, I am so glad that you are starting to tie up the past, but our friends have left me with a big mess to clean up."

At that time, the doorbell rang and Martha grinned and thought, "Ah, a momentary reprieve!"

Walking to the doorway, she could see through the sheer curtains of the windows a middle-aged lady standing at the door, arms held crossed in front of her, grasping a purse.

Answering the door, Martha spoke, "Could I help you?"

"I certainly hope so, are you Martha Roberts Dane?" the lady asked.

"Why yes, yes I am," Martha responded.

"I am Claire Whitman Peeks, I am the granddaughter of Winfred Whitman, the granddaughter of the "Fool Killer"!" spoke the stranger on the stoop.

Martha Dane stepped back in shock at hearing the name "Fool Killer" after these many years.

 


The day soon arrived and found Thomas Wright and Happy Terrill, after a short flight, amid the palms, flowers and misty seas of the 50th state, Hawaii. Specifically, the twosome returned to an area that they both had been to many times over the years, a place of reverence and remembrances, Pearl Harbor. Meeting a Navy liaison officer, they began their brief tour of the base, and their search.

"Senator, I am Lt. Westerfield. I will be your guide today and hope you enjoy your tour of the facility, and the memorial. Any question that you or your friend has, I will be glad to answer, if I can." The young man stood at attention dressed in his pressed white uniform.

"At ease son, you can be very informal with me and Mr. Terrill here. I'm Tom and he is Happy," spoke Senator Wright.

After the brief introductions and a little small talk, the duo and their guide began the tour of the military facilities. With all the new buildings and added features, Pearl was virtually a new place, but Tom and Hap couldn't help but see through the brick and block, paint and plaster and acres of asphalt. They saw visions of what use to be, scenes out of a disaster movie, the destruction of America's pacific fleet. Ghosts were floating about as thick as a heavy fog, and memories rushed back to them. Memories carrying feelings difficult to hold back, but the both of them had to keep up the "good show" for the moment. Soon the Senator and his group stopped, over looking the bay on the south beach.

"Gentlemen, this is South Beach," spoke the tall, square-jawed officer, "from here you can…"

"Son, you can save the tour guide spiel here. We are quite familiar with this spot," replied Happy.

"Yes, please take the flowers from the Suburban and toss them in Lieutenant, we would like to take a moment to remember some dearly departed friends," responded the Senator.

As the sunshine beamed down upon those gathered at the site, the mists of sea air flew about them. The breeze was blowing steadily and whirled about the group as they bowed their heads in solemn silence and uttered a small prayer.

"Gone, but not forgotten!" mumbled the Senator out loud.

"Amen," replied Happy Terrill as he turned back towards the military vehicle that awaited them.

"Let's get out of this place Hap, it's obvious to me that he's not here!" whispered Thomas Wright to his long-time friend.

"Amen, again!" was Happy Terrill's only reply.

Soon the pair was on a small plane back to the West Coast of the mainland, figuring their next move.

Rubbing his hands through his dark wavy hair, Thomas Wright asked, "This isn't going to be as easy as we thought, is it?"

"You can say that again pal!" replied the Ray.

"Where to now, Happy?" the Senator continued on.

At that instance, a voice came across the cabin speakers of the plane and said, "Gentlemen, we thought that you would like to hear the news on the radio."

First came a few seconds of static, then the voice of the news announcer could be heard, "Hundreds of tourists…scattered and fleeing… park rangers have been called in as well as law enforcement officials …he has covered the entire face of the gigantic sculpture with vines and plant growth…many people are entwined in the vines, dangling dangerously from the "faces of the presidents"…he is calling himself Mandragora and is placing demands upon the US government to abandon all their…this is Charles Fine reporting live from Mt. Rushmore, South Dakota."

"Well, ask and ye shall receive Tom!" responded Happy Terrill to the news on the radio and to his friend's question.

Dashing to the cockpit, the Senator ordered, "Captain, get us to South Dakota ASAP!"

To be continued…



Freedom Fanmail


Welcome friends and Freedom Fighter fans to the fifth issue of the Freedom Fighters! What's that you say? Fifth issue? Actually, this is the first issue of the ongoing, so if you haven't read the previous Freedom Fighters, The Spirit of Liberty mini then perhaps you should. Honestly, if all goes as planned the EIC of the FDC has already moved them from the "mini-series and one shot" section into the "titles" section and they are there as we speak for you to peruse at your leisure. Go ahead, we'll wait on you!

Before we get on to our letters, I must say that it is a pleasure to be continuing on with the Freedom Fighter stories that I had running around in my head. It seems that this series stirred some controversy (much deserved or not, I'll leave that up to you) even prior to its release, but even some of the most critical skeptics have come around to our side of thinking. To those that like us and have joined our ranks we say, "Welcome and thank you!" To those who are still a little skeptical we say, "We'll wait!" Now, to a letter written about Issue #3.

Graeme Fitzgerald wrote:

Hi Bobby,

Thanks for the preview - and what good timing; I only re-read part 2 of your FF story two days ago, so I was delighted to be able to 'read on' so soon! I should warn you now - in thirty-something years of reading comics, I have *never* before written a loc! I know you're hoping for some useful feedback tho', so I'll do my best :-)


You got that right pal!

OK, I have to say that I enjoyed part III more than its predecessor. The storyline moved better, and the dialogue was more natural in this episode - although Wotan's speech was a little too "Ming the Merciless" for my liking; I don't recall him being that melodramatic - maybe it's Roy Thomas' influence ;-) Wotan's involvement came as a pleasant surprise to me - I was sure you were heading for the Silver Ghost at the end of part 2!

Glad you liked #3 better than #2 Grae. I enjoyed writing it more too. About the "Ming the Merciless" treatment for Wotan, well I thought that in this otherworldly location and considering the power that he had, it was just right for him to act that way. See the section at the bottom of the letter column about "Influences and Inspirations". As for the Silver Ghost appearing, stay tuned!

I think you and Sammy chose a tough path by trying to create an Earth Arabian-style dimension as a backdrop for the story. I found that element disconcerting in part 2 (a bit like all those Earth-like planets that the Enterprise used to encounter), but it seemed to work better in part 3 - maybe because this section was more plot-focussed. One problem in removing the team to such an alien locale is that much of part 2 was spent in describing and defining their environment, instead of progressing the story and characters. Additionally, it means that you can't really build on the references to people like the Jester and Doll Girl - it would've been nice if they and maybe Midnight, Plastic Man or even Batwoman could have been given active roles in the story, instead of being cut off back on Earth.

I agree totally in reference to the way #2 drug on, but #3 (I think) found its groove and rolled very smoothly. It did out of my head and onto the computer as well. Very smooth! Now the part about guest stars? There will be plenty of them coming up. As you probably already know, Plastic Man is here and several others may make it into these pages as well. Now, I am sure that you are mistaking a guest appearance by Batwoman in the pages of the 1970's series as membership. She wasn't ever a member of the FF, but was a neat guest.

I enjoyed the focus on Phantom Lady and Doll Man this time around, but at the same time, I think you ignored the others too much. Without illustrations to at least show them in the background, it felt like they had dropped right out of the story. They need to have at least a couple of lines of text or dialogue to establish their presence better, I think. I'm not sure why you chose to de-power them all in this dimension - their powers are an important element of who they are, and the lack of those powers, I think, detracts from the effectiveness of the story as an FF tale - hopefully, the powers will return early in part 4. The Ray and the Bomb are my two favourite FF'ers, so I particularly hope for some focus on them next time.

Well, I hope that now that Issue #3-4 have come and gone that you can appreciate where I was coming from and going with the characters. Don't worry, they have gotten their powers back and you will see plenty of action from all the team members. I promise!

I enjoyed the plot build-up in this episode, with Darrell hooking up with the resistance (I mean, the local freedom fighters!) and Sandra uncovering the arch-villain's sinister scheme. The pacing was pretty much perfect; at the end, I was keen to read the next part and see what happens next - exactly the desired effect, I'd imagine!

Oh yeah! I felt that it moved along quite well too. It certainly was one of the easiest to write Grae.

Overall, this was an entertaining chapter of your FF serial, and like the previous parts, left me curious to see what you have planned next. I'm really enjoying the opportunity to read about this group again; DC has left them in limbo for way too long. Thanks again for the preview - now get on with writing chapter 4! ;-)

I agree with you on that as well. When will we see more Freedom Fighters and Uncle Sam in the current DC Universe? Gone far to long, IMHO.

Cheers,

Graeme

And Cheers to you Grae for all your help and assistance in making this series possible!

Now onto some letters about Issue #4.

Christopher Robinson wrote:

Bobby: Great Conclusion to an already good story. I
was pleased to see Dollman emerge as a major figure in
this story, too often the diminutive heroes wind up
taking a second place.

Aww shucks! Now my head is really starting to swell. Glad you liked it Christopher. Doll Man was always my #1 pick (other than the vanished Uncle Sam) to lead the rebels in this other dimension. He won't ever take 2nd place in my heart.

I also liked the emphasis on Phantom Lady, always a
favorite of mine. I hope that she continues to grow
with time as well (BTW I am an admirer of "older"
women--and don't think women in their forties are old)\

Me either, case in point Sela Ward doing the AT&T commercials on the TV now. Is she a babe or what? Also, I can think of many other women in their 40's and even early 50's that are definitely hot, Farrah Fawcett, Kim Bassinger, Heather Locklear, etc. All babes back then and even now.

I really wish Sam had made an actual appearance,
jumping into the fracas and re-joining the team, but
the concept of him being the spirit of America and a
guiding influence for the team is a good one.


Just keep reading Christopher, keep reading!

I missed Plas--and was glad to see him lend a helping
hand. Hope he can be more of a player in the future.
Maybe for your next story you can write, "Whatever
happened to Woozy Winks" where no one remembers
Plas' old sidekick.

I remember him! In this book, you never know who may just be showing up.

A second possibility would be bringing the Freedom
Fighters in contact with today's JSA or at least the
old seven soldiers. (And Courtney too)

Again, keep your eyeballs peeled here. Anything could happen, Christopher.

Keep up the good work--I'll keep reading.

Captain Zammo (Chris Robinson)

That's all I ask friend. Thanks for the letter.
______________________________________________________________________________________

"Influences and Inspirations"

Now, I would like to just briefly talk about some "Influences and Inspirations" that I used in the writing of the 1st four issues of this series.

The main one was one of the "kings of fright night" and an actor with impeccable talent, Vincent Price. Why Vincent Price? Well, can you honestly see anyone other than he playing Wotan in a movie? I can't. I feel that he is the prime candidate for that role and I fashioned the character out of the late 1930's Vincent. This is what I would call accurate casting in a movie version of this magazine.

Other influences on my take of a Freedom Fighters character are Henry Fonda, Jimmy Stewart and Gregory Peck. Gregory Peck would be perfect as Uncle Sam, as he appeared in "To Kill A Mockingbird", perhaps his most famous role. The look and voice are perfect IMHO. Jimmy Stewart, I think would also have been a great looking Uncle Sam, but I love to here Henry Fonda speak. A great country voice that. As for the accent of Uncle Sam, I have read that it is supposed to be a Northern one. Something akin to the way they talk in the countryside of Massachusetts or New Hampshire, but I always imagined that US spoke a lot like the people from where I grew up and live… the south! I guess it all comes down to "country people being country people no matter where you go!" From personal experience, I consider that to be true.

There are other influences and inspirations in my work of course, but I thought that perhaps you the reader would be interested as to what inspires me. Next time you see one of these classic actors on the tube, just think of them doing the characters mentioned above. I think that it will add a little something special to your enjoyment of the series.

Thanks all again for making Freedom Fighters, the Spirit of Liberty a true success and I hope that you all will return for the further adventures. I can assure you all that newer and more exciting things are on their way.

Keep 'em Flying,

Bobby Danner


Next issue…


Just who or what is the Mandragora? The Ray and Black Condor soon find out as they engage him and his full powers. What's going on with Martha (Doll Girl) Roberts Dane? And just who is the Fool Killer and what does his granddaughter want with Doll Man? Also Phantom Lady and the Human Bomb travel through the south searching for a suitable "host body" for the spirit of Uncle Sam and do some "soul" searching as well.

Join us, won't you?

 

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