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
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
"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
"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!"
"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
"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
"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!
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
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?"
Laughter echoed throughout the plane as the two heroes kicked
back, and got some rest before the plane touched down in Los
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
"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.
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
"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
"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
"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…
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
Graeme Fitzgerald wrote:
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 :-)
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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,
yeah! I felt that it moved along quite well too. It certainly
was one of the easiest to write Grae.
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! ;-)
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 to you Grae for all your help and assistance in making
this series possible!
Now onto some letters about Issue #4.
Christopher Robinson wrote:
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.
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)\
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.
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.
keep reading Christopher, keep reading!
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.
remember him! In this book, you never know who may just be showing
possibility would be bringing the Freedom
Fighters in contact with today's JSA or at least the
old seven soldiers. (And Courtney too)
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
"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,
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
Join us, won't you?