Interview: Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray On Freedom Fighters

The Freedom Fighters have been around for a quite a while now, first as part of Quality Comics stable of Golden Age superheroes, and later integrated into the DC Universe after DC's purchase of them. They had their own series in the '70s, but largely lay dormant since then, until Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray revamped them for a 2006 miniseries in the wake of Infinite Crisis. The miniseries was well-received, followed by a sequel a few months later, and now the Freedom Fighters get their shot at a new ongoing series, debuting this week, from the same creative team that brought them into the modern era. I spoke with Justin and Jimmy to learn more about their plans for the series, and what makes this team tick.


Matt Adler: How did the Freedom Fighters wind up with their own ongoing series?

Justin Gray: Determination on our part to see them back in the DCU is part of the reason. We’ve been pitching them in one form or another for some time and our determination was rewarded.

Jimmy Palmiotti: That and the fact that the trade books did well and just about every convention where there was a DC Comics panel, a Freedom Fighters question would come up and I think editorial and the crew in charge thought it would be a good idea to not only bring the book back, but make it an on-going.

MA: In your view, what sets the Freedom Fighters apart from other super-teams?

JG: They’re an interesting group that blends politics, mystery, history and super heroics into one package. Sam is clearly an iconic figure in American history rather than simply a traditional superhero that carries the stars and stripes motif. They’re an odd team, almost a mash up of misfits who in some form or another have always been hanging around the edges of the DC Universe, never quite finding their footing. That’s something we’re striving for in the series.

JP: Visually they are a spectacular team as well with a lot of different personalities going on, which is always interesting to read about. For me, they really haven’t been given a real shot to become part of the main characters and I think this series will change all of that.

MA: One thing that strikes me about the Freedom Fighters is that they've functioned both as a government super-team, and as a band of rebels; is that a dichotomy you're looking to explore further with this series?

JG: We’re looking at the book from three distinct angles. On the surface it is an action book with classic superhero elements – big fights, incredible and strange antagonists, wide scope danger. Digging a little deeper we’ve added elements of the political thriller and conspiracy in a fictional universe that, because the DCU isn’t exactly our world, allows us to bend the rules and remix actual historical events. And then of course we have these wonderful characters to work with who are known and yet unknown in many respects.

MA: Do you have any favorites among the team?

JG: I like them all for different reasons. They have such a broad range of personalities and ideals that can be explored over time.

JP: Yeah, I like them all but I find the Human Bomb really interesting because his powers are so unlike anyone else’s. He is just such a massive threat to everyone around him and I think that makes for some interesting stories itself down the line.

MA: It's been mentioned that the opening arc will delve into the Civil War era and the "hidden history" of the United States, and it occurs to me that the history we hide is often the part we're not proud of. Given that Freedom Fighters' leader Uncle Sam is supposed to represent the best of American ideals, are you looking to explore the basic contradictions to those ideals that the Civil War and slavery represented?

JG: No, the idea here is that the DCU is not exactly the same as our world and when dealing with the fantasy elements of a superhero universe it opens the door to an alternate history. Nearly anything should be possible in that environment. In this case we’re playing with American mythology and the formation of the country.

MA: We're also told that the team will be facing off against a group of foes called the Renegades; is this a Native American super-team as it was in the original Freedom Fighters series, or something else with the same name?

JG: We’re looking at a new interpretation of the Renegades, one that moves away from the stereotype speech and appearance of those characters. I can’t imagine there is a big enough contingent of Renegade purists to be offended. In fact if you look at that issue where they appeared Uncle Sam’s dialogue would be considered racist in some cases. This re-interpretation allows us to make them a greater and more dominant threat. This also allows us to play with the alternate history of America by infusing some bigger ideas.

JP: Everything about this new ongoing series is going to have a fresh feel to it and the Renegades are changed and modernized and made to work with the history we are setting up right way in the first issue.

MA: The art team on the series will be Travis Moore and Trevor Scott; what do you think of their work?

JG: They’re great and delivering the kind of kinetic and dynamic action we’ve wanted to explore in our stories. This is a superhero book on a large scale and while we’re probably making Travis and Trevor nuts with the scope of imagery and introduction of new concepts they’re delivering with creativity and enthusiasm. Every time a new design comes in it blows us away with ideas we didn’t envision and yet work perfectly.

JP: We have here some dead on dynamic storytelling that is clear to follow and pushes the boundaries at all times. There is nothing simple about what we are giving these guys and they are doing an amazing job that gets better with every single issue. We also have one of our favorite colorists Rob Schwager coloring the book and his work really compliments the art style and at the same time makes even the simplest moment a thing of beauty. As you can tell, we’re happy with the work.

MA: Do you have plans to follow-up on any plot threads from the first two miniseries?

JG: We’re keeping loose ties, but the main thrust of this book is to hopefully generate excitement in the team and make them as accessible as possible. We’ll be the first to admit the inconsistency between the first and second mini because the situations we had hoped to create with those characters couldn’t be explored at the time. We looked at what worked and what didn’t in those miniseries. So ultimately you have the political intrigue, the introduction of new rogues specific to this team and the evolution of these characters. I think it is important that the characters grow as people while retaining enough of their core personalities. The good thing about a majority of these characters is how little we know. There are areas to explore and because we’ve been given the opportunity for an ongoing we don’t have to cram everything in all at once.

MA: Are you guys working on any other projects at the moment?

JG: We’ve been concentrating on developing a number of original creator owned projects we’ll be rolling out over the next year. And of course we’ve been working with Radical on Time Bomb, which is generating a lot of positive buzz and has been a fantastic experience. That’s kind of where we’re at, a fifty-fifty blend of the opportunities we’ve had at DC with Hex, Power Girl and Freedom Fighters and in partnering with other companies in developing other genres.


Matt Adler would like to assure Uncle Sam that his tax returns will be on time next year.


  1. Before this week the extent of my knowledge about these hereoes was "Uncle Sam has a Heroclick" but I find myself wanting to pick this up.


    I had no idea this book existed until last weekend at Baltimore Comic-Con, but Palmiotti and Co. seem really enthused about it.  I’m tempted!

  3. I have to go pull this. This is the writing team that is Jonah and was Power Girl.

    How are you not going to give this a shot?

  4. I always buy the first issue of the Freedom Fighters series, and I’m always disappointed by the poor dialogue.  I always say "how can this be the same people who write Hex?  This is not on the same level."  I think I’m 0 for 3 at continuing to buy the minis.  So, of course I’m buying this.  Hope spring eternal, and I love C-listers.

  5. I remember the Ray from his own series : Great visuals, and you can trust these guys for the story : Looks great.


  6. Both of the minis were excellent so I can’t wait for this one .