From my initial review of this series, I said, “The 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.” I’ll admit it; the first issue intimidated the hell out of me. I can only surmise that it might be due (in some small part) to the sheer volume of decompressed stories I’ve subjected myself to in recent years, either through free will or out of duty to review. Whatever the case, this issue is just as full of story, character, and adventure.
Palmiotti and Gray produced a story that reveals the origins of the Renegades, four demon-possessed shamans who bear the names Tall Trees, Fire Horse, Windstorm, and Thundercloud. These shamans have been held captive in Devil’s Tower, Wyoming where they were imprisoned by a confederacy of shamans from the tribes of yesteryear. Now those Renegades have been loosed upon an unsuspecting world. Thankfully, that world has the Freedom Fighters ready to stop the Renegades. The problem is the Renegades divide and conquer the Fighters, leading to a shocking final page revelation so surprising that DC put a “Teen Titans” preview in this issue to keep you from peeking.
Travis Moore continues to bring the solid, well-detailed artwork, and the panel of assembled shamans on the first page at the bottom is worth the price of admission alone. I mentioned it in my review of issue one, but it bears mentioning again: the colors need to be punched up a little bit more. This issue feels very subdued to me, but it shouldn’t. There is a stunning array of costumes, powers, and landscapes that should be played up a great deal more. I think brighter colors might make Moore’s art sing a little louder.
This comic – this team – is unlike anything else on the stands or in the digital archives today. Sure, this title is in its infancy for this volume, but there is a cohesiveness to the Freedom Fighters that is indicative of previous adventures (in a pair of miniseries) and compelling. It’s not some inside story that you’ll never be let in on, but rather Palmiotti and Gray are peeling back the curtain slowly, balancing out the character moments and revelations with the action and calamity of the issue. This issue gives a little more insight to Uncle Sam and Black Condor, including an exhibition of Sam’s powers that is both impressive and inspirational.
Palmiotti, Gray, and Moore have positioned this series within the DC Universe proper, but they’ve done so in a manner that allows them to push the envelope open a little wider without threatening the sanctity of other franchises. Rather than focus on the bureaucracy of running a government-sanctioned team in the DC Universe, this title offers a look at the United States of America through a very different lens. There’s some “fakelore” at play here as well as liberal interpretation and expansion of history to fit a story.
This is a book that is making a decisive move to lock itself onto my regular pull list. Palmiotti and Gray are delivering a strong story that offers much more than good guys and bad guys. This title offers new bits of mythology, new adversaries, old friends, and even historical reference. This is definitely not your dad’s comic book.