Overview

Freedom Fighters #1

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Freedom Fighters #1

Credits

  • Words: Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
  • Art: Travis Moore
  • Inks: Trevor Scott
  • Colors: Rob Schwager
  • Story Title: "American Nightmare: Part One"
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Sep 1, 2010

Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray return this week with the launch of their new, ongoing Freedom Fighters series.  Definitely tailored more at fans of their first two mini-series, both entitled Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters in 2006 and 2007 respectively, the latest incarnation is also a decisive move away from the overt associations with Americanism that permeated the others in title, team lineup, and somewhat in content.  Perhaps reflecting a similar shift that saw the patriotic elements of Wonder Woman's costume diminished in favor of a more international style for various audiences, Freedom Fighters #1 is a good, albeit extremely busy, first issue.

While audiences familiar with the characters and the minis may require little reintroduction to the major figures, three years is definitely enough time for older readers to wonder about the status of several heroes in the earlier casts.  Palmiotti and Gray can be commended for not falling prey to the usual team book launch format of text boxes identifying the characters and their powers.  Instead, the writers rely on the narrative itself to introduce the players and their abilities.  This approach will facilitate new readers as well who are largely entering foreign territory with this title.  One drawback, however, in characterization for novice audiences is that Palmiotti and Gray really never move beyond this surface exploration of the main team members.  Although fans of Palmiotti and Gray's prior books will have no troubles assessing motivations, team dynamics, or character drives, newcomers desiring a stronger connection to the characters may be somewhat lost within this issue.  If the goal of a first issue debut of a primarily unknown team is to attract new readers while maintaining longtime fans, Palmiotti and Gray may have missed their opportunity when it comes to forging bonds between the newcomer and the characters.

As mentioned, Freedom Fighters #1 is also a very busy issue as Palmiotti and Gray pull out every single, lowball and mostly formulaic threat possible to the Freedom Fighters.  Yet, the interconnecting themes between these dangers forges the main, conceptual thrust of the first arc—Indigenous rights.  While in lesser hands this type of thematic approach would descend into the stereotypical colonialist approach of "lo, the poor Native" with non-Natives being the rescuers and saviors, Palmiotti and Gray deserve attention here for their ability to discuss issues of race and politics without such failings.  Most comics tip-toe around race, ethnicity, and identity politics, or use them as vehicles for little more than one-shot attempts at diversity and multiculturalism.  Not so with Freedom Fighters.  From the Aryan-led assault on a tribal casino and the inhabitants of an asteroid targeting Earth, to the villainous intentions of the Four Corners, Palmiotti and Gray shine a light on Indigenous themes in Freedom Fighters #1.

In addition, the authors also tackle history, contemporary political dilemmas, and the nostalgic loss of America's rustbelt as a source of economic viability and power, or the "lifeblood" as Sam calls it.  As a result, while some readers may find that Palmiotti and Gray pack too many themes and topics into their first issue, other audiences should champion them for producing an entertaining and simultaneously serious and mature book.  Both reflective of our times and also connecting with something innately timeless, Freedom Fighters #1 brings back the best of the previous series and establishes a solid foundation for the new title.

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