Those damn Ratzis!

March 1st, 2019

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There comes a time in every other person’s life where you just feel like raging out, tensing up, and punching a Nazi… Couple issues with that, though, not the least of which being punching people is a bit of a no-no in civilised society, so I thought I’d go for the next best thing: the ongoing Freedom Fighters run.
And boy, does this one deliver the one-two!

With a team like Robert Venditti (who’s killing it with Hawkwman at the moment) on writing and Eddy Barrows (strangely enough, the first thing that comes to mind from him is Brian Pulido’s Killer Gnomes…) on art, this book had the potential of being nothing short of nuclear grade shiny on both ends, and in my humble opinion, it pretty much reached that point within the very first issue.
If you’re looking to read it without any spoilers, do so as I’ll be touching upon a couple plot points from here on in.

The storyline takes place in an alternate, Earth X timeline where (...when?) the Nazis won WWII and the Hitler dynasty rules the US. It paints a bleak picture where hope is all but gone and the people are simply relegated to live through these, as Billy Connolly once said, “dreary, fucking dreary” circumstances.
Metahumans have been made tot, ja, and while we get a glimpse into the past, when the original Freedom Fighters were wiped out, the story takes place in present day, after decades of Nazi domination of the US. Crikey.

The series is set for 12 issues, and while DC can really put out a snoozefest when it comes to length (here’s looking at you, Doomsday Clock!), I’m 3 issues into this one and the plot is not only progressing nicely, but introducing new elements to keep things fresh and interesting enough for me to come back every month.
I know this is supposed to be a series centered on first issues alone, and this series hooked me on the first go, but I’m using everything I’ve read so far to prove my point, sue me!

As most alternate timelines go, there’s a resistance movement that will seek to rise up against the heavy, lead-lined Martens (I dunno, I’m riffing) boot pressing down on people’s hopes and dreams, and in this case it’s the Freedom Fighters themselves! The second gen variants.
Small point here for a positive nod when it comes to the heroes’ introduction. If you’ll remember my take on Suicide Squad Black Files, the trite way the characters were introduced really bothered me. There’s none of that in here, as you can see below.

There’s also no shortage of blistering fight scenes, spreads, splashes, and a focus on characters and their inner turmoils when the situations call for it. We have a varied cast with varied roles, personalities, and upbringings, and I’m loving peeling back every layer of their story as the issues go on.
We’re dealing with alt history here, but Venditti does a great job of giving the heroes motivations we can all get behind. Hell, we’ve been suckers for the concept of hope since at least as far back as 1977 (thanks, George Lucas!), and we’re sure as hell fans of seeing Uncle Sam kick some Nazi butt, right?

The art itself is amazing, has subtle details worked into every panel, and manages to complement the story perfectly, along with the colouring. It’s a highly atmospheric, stifling, claustrophobic setting, where you can all but taste the doom and gloom oozing out of every page. There are also various instances where we get some intense close-ups, with feelings ranging from wonder, to worry, to outright fear in some cases.
Bears mentioning there’s a moment where Black Condor legitimately looks and acts like he’s genuinely afraid for his life, which made him seem so real I started rolling through casting choices for a Freedom Fighters movie in my head and getting too excited for my own good…

I could go into a lot more, from the subdued humour which fits the tone and makes every joke get a great jolt out of the reader, to the cheesy denomination of “Ratzis” used for the bad guys, the fact that Hitler Jr. had been called “Zwei” to begin with because people didn’t trust his leading ability, the (creepy as fuck) Plasstic Men (no, that’s not a typo) who are Nazi enforcers, and the fact that Uncle Sam is painted as a positive figure that fights for the core values the US was built upon, starting with freedom. Duh.

This book is strangely patriotic in a sense, especially with the turmoil related to that concept in the US of today. Hell, the first issue spends a whole page having the characters pledge their allegiance - it’s glorious and rousing and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Get in there, America! Love yourself, cause you’ve earned it.

An absolute wonder to behold and read, Freedom Fighters is the epitome of underrated, and the exact ideal the industry needs to strive for in the future.

Thanks for reading, and have as nice a day as you deserve!

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