Gray and Palmiotti Re-Team on "Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters"

Tue, July 10th, 2007 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Jeffrey Renaud, Staff Writer

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The new "Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters" miniseries begins September 26

With a leader akin to baseball and apple pie, one might think Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters would be considered America's Team, but the icon-heavy heroes keep adding snips and snails to mom's favorite recipe, which leaves a bad taste in the mouths of some of the World's Finest.

And, let's be honest, that's what makes them so much fun.

Originally introduced in "National Comics" #1 in 1940 by industry legend Will Eisner, the current incarnation of Uncle Sam was born for the 2006 miniseries "Crisis Aftermath: The Battle for Bludhaven." Coming this September from DC Comics is a new eight-issue limited series, "Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters," the brainchild of creator Grant Morrison, artist Renato Arlem ("Hawkgirl," "Annihilation: Silver Surfer"), and the über-powered writing duo of Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, who with fingers pointing told CBR News that They Want You to buy the book and make it an ongoing title.

"Think of the Freedom Fighters as the People's heroes," Justin Gray told CBR News. "If the people want more then they'll need to turn out in big numbers for the trade and this new miniseries. For those worried that this book is dependent on 'Countdown' or 'Amazons Attack,' you can relax. Those events are taking place around the book and while we might touch on them for a sense of scope, inside we're more concerned with building a solid, entertaining and sometimes controversial story about a unique band of superheroes."

2006's "Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters" trade paperback on sale this week
Jimmy Palmiotti concurred, "The reality is that if this new series sells through the roof, expect it to become an ongoing in a heartbeat. Until then, we write each and every issue the best we can. We know this is an eight-issue miniseries like the first one, so we have a beginning, middle and an end. I think the powers that be feel these characters couldn't work as an ongoing and we plan to prove them wrong. DC has committed to this project and we couldn't be happier."

Gray said what draws him to the Freedom Fighters is that unlike some other superhero teams, Uncle Sam and his crew have some blemishes and aren't afraid to "pop a zit" for all to see every once in a while.   "I love this team and I feel like Grant, Jimmy and I helped re-define them thirty years after the first series as a modern, if not troubled, superhero team unlike any other in the DCU," Gray explained. "We're able to blend politics, fantasy, action and adventure with a touch of strangeness that is very specific to this group of heroes. They each have a well-defined personality and purpose without the continuity baggage you get with other superhero books. There's a sense of telling folktales in a modern setting."

The current team
"That and because of their cool legacy," added Palmiotti, who, along with Gray, also writes DC western "Jonah Hex" and contributes to "Countdown." "We get to go in and help use that to not only define who they are, but we get to throw totally new ideas out there with them and actually change things because these characters aren't so integrated into the DCU. We can actually mess with them, change them, injure and kill them and so on. We can really mess with them is what I am saying. It's a freedom we don't have with other titles."

According to Palmiotti, the series is a "good jumping-on point" for any new readers not familiar with the Freedom Fighters. "We bring the readers up to date on the world around them right away," Palmiotti promised.

Phantom Lady
"Following the 'Amazons Attack' storyline, we'll see that Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters have been involved in a top secret mission," explained Gray. "That's why they were not present during the 'Amazons Attack' miniseries. The previous [Freedom Fighters] mini focused on a lot of action with less time dedicated to the individual team members simply because we didn't have the room. This time out, we're showcasing the individual team members and telling a larger story throughout."

"This is our chance to get the readers hooked on how cool these characters are and not to have to worry about a ton of continuity like they did in the first mini series," added Palmiotti.

Striking a Che Guevara-style pose on artist Dave Johnson's cover for "Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters" #1, Uncle Sam looks like he is ready to start a revolution in DCU. Yet another reason to find the icon compelling, says Gray: "Sam is a mythical hero, a timeless and iconic figure. He's a folk hero based on a larger myth than any other in comics. He's a grandfatherly figure, powerful and wiser than many of the people he encounters."

The Ray
"Sam is one of the few super-powered uncles in comics," quipped Palmiotti. "How cool is that?"

Without giving too much away, Gray revealed that the events in this series would have a direct impact on the evolution of Red Bee as a character.

So Red Bee is in. Who else will be answering roll call?

"The gang is back," Gray confirmed, "including Phantom Lady, who has some big problems to deal with, Red Bee who undergoes a metamorphosis, The Ray is back, Doll Man has a limited role, Happy Terrill, Black Condor the team's resident bad ass, Firebrand the political activist and Miss America is a S.H.A.D.E. field leader. There will be a few more surprises along the way."

Uncle Sam
And while Palmiotti started off not playing favorites, he did pick one hero as his go-to-gal on the Freedom Fighters. "I like the idea of the team and all of them working together and to focus on just one being the favorite would be wrong. That said, Phantom Lady is my favorite," Palmiotti laughed.

Also non-committal on a favorite, Justin Gray proved to be a bit of a ladies' man himself. "I'm having a lot of fun with Phantom Lady's story and Red Bee, of course," Gray admitted. "Hopefully this series will ignite enough excitement to warrant an ongoing so we can continue to build on the mythology of these wonderful heroes."

As far for a re-appearance Father Time, the creative team says wait and see.

"Can't say just yet," said Gray.

"Why ruin the fun," echoed Palmiotti. "But expect the unexpected."

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