December 23, 2010


Here's a comic book about a superhero team that debuted a few months ago:

Freedom Fighters #1 Review

By WaylandFollowing on two limited series, DC gives the Freedom Fighters a shot at their own ongoing series, written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, who I really liked on Power Girl until they left the book. The story opens with Black Condor and Firebrand fighting yet another iteration of the Aryan Brigade at an Indian casino (before someone complains, I am part Indian and don’t like the term ‘Native American,’ so I don’t use it). The bad guys are written as savage, racist, and ignorant to a stereotypical degree, and are quickly beaten. Uncle Sam pops up and says he needs to speak with them about “a matter of National Security.”

In a flashback of 14 hours ago, we see the Vice President get kidnapped from Air Force Two by a glowing blue foe. Somehow this ties into a newly discovered mystery document about a secret weapon of great power the Confederates were supposed to have had, but not used, in the Civil War (the historical one, not the recent Marvel one). Uncle Sam and the team, at Presidential request, go out to Devil’s Tower, Wyoming, and find a secret staircase inside. Investigating, they find powerful mystical beings calling themselves the “Four Corners,” and square off with them for a fight which will no doubt happen next issue.
Freedom Fighters #1

By Doug ZawiszaThe problem I had with this first issue, however, was the sheer volume of information jammed into it. There is a casino rumble, a meteor hurtling towards the Earth, the kidnapping of the Vice President, and hints of a secret society so secret, it makes the Freemasons look like Girl Scouts. This, naturally, leads to an adventure fit for Indiana Jones or Benjamin Gates.

The Native storyline continues:

Freedom Fighters #2The first arc of the new Freedom Fighters title continues here, with things looking not really good for anyone. A flashback shows the big nasty god like beings fighting powerful shamans centuries ago and being trapped, and in the present those same beings fight the heroes, swatting them down pretty easily. Most of the team, even powerhouses like Black Condor and the Ray, get put down with no real effort. Only Uncle Sam puts up a decent fight, and he isn’t doing well in the first pages.Freedom Fighters #3The rampage of the newly released demons goes on after they stomped all over the Freedom Fighters last issue. Black Condor appeals to the goddess that empowered him, and she says they can not be defeated, merely imprisoned, and that will require the woman he refuses “to admit you are in love with.” Condor then rallies his team and tells Phantom Lady she is the key to winning.Rob's review

As you may recall, Black Condor is a Navajo superhero. That means this comic book always has a Native potential. This time it gets realized.

FREEDOM FIGHTERS #1 begins with a six-page sequence in an Arizona Indian casino. Other than a bear statue in front, it's blissfully free of Native stereotypes. There are no greeters in chiefs' headdresses, no waitresses in buckskin mini-skirts....nothing like that.

True, the bad guys call the Indians "Pocahontas" and "Geronimo," but they're racists. I'd say the only misstep is when one neo-Nazi says of the Indians, "We shoulda driven these immigrants out of America centuries ago." This line is too stupid even for an ignorant bigot. Moreover, the rejoinder--"they were here first!"--is practically a cliché. Every Columbus Day and Thanksgiving we hear jokes about how the Europeans were the first illegal immigrants.

Close encounters of the supernatural kind

Later in the story, the Freedom Fighters visit Devils Tower (misspelled "Devil's Tower" in the comic). Black Condor says, "I sense a great power. This mountain is a sacred place to many tribes for different reasons." This is more or less an accurate summary of the situation, and it's nice coming from the Native hero.

Black Condor adds, "The legend is that all of the tribes came together here and fought a great battle." I don't think this part is accurate. At least, I've never heard of a legend like that.

The heroes explore the butte's interior and find four Native-style demons of earth, air, water, and fire. They say: "You have foolishly awakened us...imprisoned here by the shamans of a hundred tribes! We are the Four Corners! We are the renegades! We are death!"

The Four Corners name is cute, but it doesn't make sense for demons that predate the Four Corners junction two states to the south. And elemental beings aren't very original or interesting. This is the kind of kid staff that has turned me off to comics.

Alas, I wasn't interested enough to continue buying FREEDOM FIGHTERS. Judging by the reviews above, those who kept reading aren't happy with the results either.

For more on the subject, see Comic Books Featuring Indians.

Below:  Black Condor.

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