The Freedom Fighters Return: Punching Nazis on Earth-X

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DC Comics recently announced a new 12 issue series featuring The Freedom Fighters set on Earth-10, the world where Nazis won WWII and rule America.

The Freedom Fighters are a relatively obscure group from DC’s pantheon of super teams, but they’ve been around for a long time. Originally created in the early 1940s by Quality Comics, who also first published Plastic Man, The Blackhawks, and Bozo the Iron Man (well, they can’t all be winners), the characters weren’t a team at all in their earliest days. So who were they, and who are they now?

Poster entitled ‘We’re All in the Army Now; Let’s All Work to Win!’ (Frederick Little Packe, artist) depicts a group of men and women saluting the massive, spectral head of Uncle Sam, which hovers above a landscape of industrial factories, early 1940s. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Uncle Sam

He wants you! Who is the man begging you to join his fight? Uncle Sam, the very spirit of American patriotism! Based on a popular recruiting mascot from the Civil War, Uncle Sam is decades older than Captain America. Quality Comics recruited the icon and published his adventures in 1940 written and drawn by comics master Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit). They backdated the character’s origin to the American Revolution and made him the returned spirit of a slain soldier. Quality Comics closed in 1956 and the character sat unused through the 1960s.

In 1973, DC editor Len Wein launched a revival, for the first time teaming Uncle Sam with a handful of fellow Quality characters. His origin was reworked again, giving it an occult edge, and over the years his mystical powers were tied more firmly to the concept that he was only as strong as the love Americans felt for their country. The team was located on Earth-X, a parallel world controlled by Nazis, occasionally they’d travel to Earth-One to team with Superman and the rest of the Justice League.

In a high profile 1993 series from DC’s Vertigo imprint, titled simply “Uncle Sam” superstar artist Alex Ross and writer Steve Darnall reimagined the icon as a delusional homeless person beset with remorse over injustices his country has perpetrated. In the Freedom Fighters final pre-New 52 appearances, Uncle Sam acted as the leader as well as a fatherly caretaker of the team, helping them cope with addiction and mental problems during conspiracy-filled adventures.

As Rob Venditti said to CBR, the new Freedom Fighters maxi-series will begin without the team’s iconic leader, who vanished when the American spirit was crushed under Nazi boots.

"“Uncle Sam in 2018 is missing in action. The American spirit was crushed when America was conquered by Nazi Germany, and so the Freedom Fighters are now coming back to try to remind the American population that there is such a thing as heroes and here’s what America stands for. They sort of re-stoke that American spirit with the hope that by doing so, if they can stoke it enough, Uncle Sam can return and they’ll have this very powerful, you know, fighting force on their side.”"