The Freedom Fighters are a team of American super-heroes in The DCU, made up of characters bought out from Quality Comics and led by the nation's spirit Uncle Sam. Originally they were written as the only heroes on Earth-X, a universe where the Nazis won an extended World War II and had completely taken over. They fought against tyranny and oppression in a completely authoritarian world. Eventually they were integrated into the main Shared Universe. They still operate together in the modern era mostly using Legacy Characters and fight against contemporary problems that face the country such as corruption and terrorism.
The team first appeared in a crossover, featured in Justice League of America #107-108 (September-November, 1973). This tale was written by Len Wein, and drawn by Dick Dillin. The team featured familiar characters, Black Condor, Doll Man, Human Bomb, Phantom Lady, the Ray, and Uncle Sam. All were characters from The Golden Age of Comic Books. They lay dormant for a few years. Then they got their own series "Freedom Fighters", which had them relocating from Earth-X to Earth-One. Their title lasted for 15 issues, from March, 1976 to July, 1978. This series upgraded the powers of some of the featured and added fellow Golden Ager Firebrand to their ranks. The series then fell victim to the so-called DC Implosion, the cancellation of much of DC's line of comic books. Two wore issues were by then complete. They got printed in "Cancelled Comics Cavalcade" #2 (Fall, 1978).
In the 1980s, the Freedom Fighters got a couple of retro tales in the pages of All-Star Squadron (which shifted their universe of origin to Earth-Two), a couple of modern tales, and participation in the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Individual members got revamped in The '90s, and some were replaced by Legacy Characters. Then most active members died in the Infinite Crisis #1 (December, 2005), to be replaced by even younger Legacy Characters, and new recruits. The newer version/s of the team received a couple of mini-series over the following years, but so far haven't been more successful than their predecessors in maintaining an ongoing series.
In the New 52, Justin Gray and Jimmy Palimotti (who wrote the previous reinvention, based on notes by Grant Morrison) seemed to be re-reinventing the Freedom Fighters a step at a time, with linked miniseries introducing even newer versions of the characters (The Ray; Phantom Lady and Doll Man; and The Human Bomb). The third of these ended at the start of 2013, and there's been no further development, so it's probably an Aborted Arc.
Freedom Fighters provides examples of:
- Anthropomorphic Personification: Uncle Sam is the "Spirit of America."
- Appearance Is in the Eye of the Beholder: Or voice, in Uncle Sam's case. To Emma Glenn, his voice sounds like "children singing". To Doll Man II, he sounds like a leader of great compassion and integrity (and a little like Ike Eisenhower). Doll Man II hypothesizes that this is because Sam is born of all the individual perceptions of America, and may sound differently to everyone.
- Cannon Fodder:
- The new Invisible Hood debuted in the first mini-series, then was killed the issue after he was introduced.
- Likewise, S.H.A.D.E.'s policy on metahuman teams operates like this. If one member of a team dies, their name, power, and gear can easily be given to a replacement. Between Battle for Bludhaven and the first miniseries, there have been three versions of Lady Liberty.
- Canon Invasion: The original Freedom Fighters were all characters owned by Quality Comics before DC bought out the company. There were several cross-overs with the team, who were said to live on Earth-X. Eventually Canon Welding set in and the team was established as having been a part of the All-Star Squadron.
- Captain Patriotic: Uncle Sam, the Anthropomorphic Personification of the United States of America.
- C-List Fodder: Black Condor, Phantom Lady and the Human Bomb were killed in the opening pages of Infinite Crisis.
- Continuity Nod: Two new members of First Strike were field leader Americommando and the fish-like Barracuda. In the 1970s series, the Freedom Fighters fought against the Crusaders, an expy of the Invaders from Marvel Comics, which include Captain America stand-in Americommando and Namor stand-in Barracuda.
- Evil All Along: Stan Silver was introduced as the third Ray and spent most of the Freedom Fighters miniseries with the team while Ray Terrill was mysteriously absent and Sam didn't comment on it. It turned out Sam suspected Stan was working as Father Time's mole so he got in touch with Ray (who assumed Sam had been killed alongside the previous team by the Secret Society) just as Stan launched an attack to wipe out the rest of the group.
- Evil Counterpart: Gonzo the Mechanical Bastard is a modern reworking of the Golden Age character Bozo the Iron Man. Likewise, there is Uncle Sam and Father Time for most of the first miniseries until Time's appearance changed and his true loyalties were revealed, the two Miss Americas, one being the genuine article and the other a robot, and Ray Terrill and sociopath Stan Silver.
- Fan Boy: The second Human Bomb was this to Hal Jordan as a boy. He even refuses to attack him during the Battle For Bludhaven miniseries.
- Heal It with Water: The waters of the Mississippi River apparently revived Uncle Sam (the Anthropomorphic Personification of America) after his apparent death in Infinite Crisis.
- Magical Native American: John Trujillo received his Black Condor powers from an ancient Native American spider-goddess. In a subversion of the trope, he is the angriest and most violent of the Fighters, at least the current ones.
- The Mole: Stan Silver, the third Ray.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: How the first Human Bomb died. See, Bizarro likes the lights he made, which were released every time the Bomb blew up, and Bizarro didn't know his own strength...
- Older Than They Look: Averted and later played straight with Miss America. To be with her husband she used her powers to simulate the aging process, but drops the facade after her husband died so she could go back in the field.
- Patriotic Fervor: Uncle Sam is fueled by this.
- Power Incontinence: The Human Bomb has to stay in his containment suit, or he'll blow up everything around him.
- Stripperific: Phantom Lady. Not that anyone is complaining, mind you. The current Phantom Lady, with her shirt that's basically a tube top, is actually less Stripperific than previous incarnations.
- Stupid Jetpack Hitler: The Earth-X stories take place on a world where the Nazis have access to more futuristic technology.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: During the Quality Comics years, The Spirit was published there as compilation of the newspaper comics. During the years Will Eisner went to war in WWII, a copycat was created as Midnight, a similar pulp vigilante as The Spirit that even became part of Freedom Fighters during a time. Later in The '70s, Midnight came back as a temporary member of Freedom Fighters and All-Star Squadron.
- Will Not Tell a Lie: Uncle Sam is very big on telling the truth and avoids lying.
- Wearing a Flag on Your Head: Uncle Sam and Miss America both wear American themed costumes.
- Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: S.H.A.D.E. treated the Freedom Fighters this way, with Uncle Sam being declared a threat to national security.