Freedom Five (Comic)

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Overview

Freedom Five (occasionally Freedom Four) was Sentinel Comics' attempt to create demand for a book by having several popular heroes appear in the same title. It began publication in May of 1950 as Freedom Four and was an anthology title featuring separate stories about popular heroes Legacy and the Wraith in addition to an existing but minor hero known as Absolute Zero, and newcomer Shrieker. This anthology format would continue for almost two years until issue #24 in April of 1952 had them all appear as a team in the same story (fighting a new alien threat known as Thorathians). Three years later in issue #60, another popular character, the Maori warrior known as Haka who frequently appeared in Tome of the Bizarre, was added to the struggling title which was renamed Freedom Five in a bid to bolster flagging sales. This was not enough to save the title in its current format and so the team was reorganized in 1957.

The August 1957 issue #88 was the return to being the Freedom Four, retaining Legacy and the Wraith, but replacing the other members with Bunker, an existing hero largely appearing in military comics up to this point, and Tachyon, an existing supporting cast character who only now gained super powers and becomes a hero in her own right. This issue was preceded that same month by Freedom Four Annual #1 - an intermittent title that often got used for special events and was published at most once a year, but not every year. This month is generally considered by comics historians to mark the beginning of the Silver Age of comics just as Justice Comics #1 did for the Golden Age.

After one year as Freedom Four, August 1958 saw Freedom Five Annual #2 introduce a new hero, Ryan Frost, to take up the name of Absolute Zero (unrelated to the older character to use that name). The monthly title becomes Freedom Five once again that month with issue #100 to reflect the new team composition, which would remain constant through the end of the so-called "Multiverse Era". This version of the team proved to be extremely popular, leading Freedom Five to become the flagship title of the entire Sentinel Comics line, with many major events and character introductions occurring in its pages throughout its nearly 67 years of continuous publication. At the end of the "Multiverse Era" it had attained the highest issue number of any comics line at #803.

A second volume of the title was begun in the short-lived Vertex imprint, running for the full 70 months of that experiment (June 2019 through March 2025) outside of the main continuity being published at that time.

Volume 1

#1 May 1950 - Freedom Four begins with separate stories for the four heroes Legacy (Paul Parsons VIII), the Wraith, Absolute Zero (Henry Goodman), and the Shrieker (Aislin Allen, a new character introduced in this book).

#24 April 1952 - The heroes all work together in the same story for the first time. First appearance of the Thorathian military as an invading alien force.

#60 April 1955 - Haka joins the team, book retitled Freedom Five.

#70 February 1956 - First appearance of Kaargra Warfang and the Bloodsworn Colosseum.

#87 July 1957 - Last issue with the original lineup.

#88 August 1957 - Title reverts to Freedom Four with the new team lineup consisting of Legacy and Wraith as before, now featuring Bunker (an existing hero in military comics) and Tachyon (previously a scientist supporting character who only recently acquired powers and becomes a hero in her own right). First appearance of the villain Glamour. Along with Freedom Four Annual #1 this month, this issue marks the beginning of the Silver Age, which also brings with it an increased focus on continuity between issues rather than each issue being a completely self-contained story. (Writer's Room #1, Episode 117, cover).

#96 April 1958 - the Soviet hero Proletariat returns, now as a villain in the Cold War era.

#100 August 1958 - Following the introduction of Absolute Zero in FFA #2 this month, the title becomes Freedom Five once again.

#102 October 1958 - First "Omnitron", but only a simple robot by that name that the heroes fight rather than the self-upgrading factory that becomes important in later stories.

#141 January 1962 - The Freedom Five fight more Thorathians. This is part of the first ever multi-title crossover event in comics, continuing the story from Justice Comics #261 which introduced the Thorathian leader, Grand Warlord Voss.

#157 May 1963 - FF tricked into "helping" an alien which results in them being captured by Voss. This introduces the concept of "gene-bound" slaves created through experimentation on conquered aliens.

#158 June 1963 - The heroes escape from the Thorathian flagship.

#174 October 1964 - First appearance of Wager Master (story continues for a few months).

#201 January 1967 - First appearance of Citizen Dawn.

#202 February 1967 - Citizen Dawn takes over Megalopolis city hall.

#209 September 1967 - First appearance of Citizens Hammer and Anvil.

#241 May 1970 - Citizen Dawn origin story (cover in Villain Challenge document, possibly anachronistic, possibly non-canonical)

#258 October 1971 - The "Mad Bomber" Baron Blade plot.

#259 November 1971 - First appearance of Jefferson Knight as the director of the Freedom Five Initiative.

#270 October 1972 - First appearance of Aislin Allen as Glamour.

#290 June 1974 - First appearance of Fright Train (although Steven Graves had been a recurring character in The Indestructible Bunker prior to this).

#300s - Slow build presaging the reappearance of Omnitron.

#312 April 1976 - "Super Scientific Tachyon" investigates Omnitron evidence, leading directly into the Singularity limited series.

#320 December 1976 - Beginning of a 6-part Voss story, this time getting into the background detail on his history and the Thorathian armada.

#321 January 1977 - Introduces Field Lieutenant Tamar.

#322 February 1977 - Introduces First Lieutenant Vyktor.

#325 May 1977 - Revelation of a gene-bound Maerynian.

#408 April 1984 - Cosmic Omnitron.

#422 June 1985 - First appearance of Visionary.

#440 December 1986 - Beginning of the major Thorathian Invasion crossover event. Issue ends with the "death" of Legacy (quickly revealed in the next issue of the event that he's just in a coma).

#441 January 1987 - Invasion continued.

#442 February 1987 - Invasion continued.

#496 August 1991 - First appearance of Radioactivist (vs. Unity)

#505 May 1992 - cover in Villain Challenge document shows Voss and the trade dress presents this as part of the major invasion story from a few years prior. This is likely both in an anachronistic style and an issue number that's been retconned given that issue #505 would have been published not only after that invasion story had been resolved, but also the follow-up story in the NightMist book where she banished him outside of reality. My guess is that this sort of cover, updated to be in the correct style, would more likely be reassigned to issue #440 as the beginning of the major Thorathian Invasion crossover event.

#510 October 1992 - First appearance of the new HQ for the Freedom Five, Freedom Tower, which appears at the end of the issue.

#511 November 1992 - First story taking place in Freedom Tower. First appearance of security chief Don Vickers.

#525 January 1994 - Major Kaargra Warfang/Bloodsworn Colosseum on Earth crossover event begins.

#541 May 1995 - Ennead begin showing up again.

#542 June 1995 - Ennead story continues.

#592 August 1999 - Slaughterhouse Six return, this time secretly led by Glamour creating an illusion of Ambuscade.

#595 November 1999 - Unrest in Megalopolis, revealed to be the Citizens of the Sun. Beginning of the "Sunrise" arc (Episode 70).

#596 December 1999 - "Sunrise" continues. Battle begun in the Sunrise limited series concludes here with heroes winning the battle, but not without collateral damage or stolen bodies from a cemetery and Citizen Anvil recovers his fallen compatriots, so there are not even captured villains to show for it.

#597 January 2000 - "Sunrise" continues. Another battle with Citizens Assault, Battery, Slash, and Burn who were healed in the intervening Sunrise issues. Parse is in Freedom Tower attempting to make sense of the situation.

#598 February 2000 - "Sunrise" continues. Citizen Dawn finally arrives in the story, setting up impenetrable shields around herself and a section of the city center. She issues an ultimatum - surrender the city or they'll take it anyway.

#599 March 2000 - "Sunrise" continues. Heroes continue to attempt to penetrate the shield in Megalopolis to no effect. Heroes on Insula Primalis defeat Citizens there, eventually finding that Citizen Truth is the source of the shield in Megalopolis. Fanatic breaks Absolution on his shield, but eventually the heroes defeat him and destroy the machine he was using. Dawn begins emitting excess energy she can no longer contain.

#600 April 2000 - "Sunrise" concludes. Dawn channels the excess energy into a Devastating Aurora while the rest of the Citizens continue the fight with the heroes. Eventually Dark Visionary returns to the fight and Mind Spikes Dawn, ending the battle.

#607 November 2000 - Another Akash'Bhuta story.

#610 February 2001 - Story hinting at odd things happening to time (e.g. the barbecue photo and Mount Rushmore anomalies).

#650 June 2004 - First appearance of La Capitan. Story continues for a few months.

#657 January 2005 - Miss Information appears on-page for the first time.

#691 November 2007 - Matriarch framed by Biomancer (while Harpy is NightMist's pupil). Crossover with the A Murder Most Fowl one-shot.

#752 December 2012 - Deadline crossover event begins.

#763 November 2013 - First appearance of Progeny, story continues for several issues.

#767 March 2014 - Progeny fight continues (cover "Harbinger" in ARG Event)

#773 September 2014 - First appearance of Omnitron-U.

#783 July 2015 - Omnitron-U (cover "OmnitronU" in ARG Event, issue number on this cover is probably incorrect and should be #773)

#775 November 2014 - First named sighting of OblivAeon.

#800 December 2016 - Final month of OblivAeon event, part of the major finale.

#801 January 2017 - "Itsy Bitsy Spider Bots" - In the wake of the OblivAeon event, the Freedom Five (and their former intern Unity) foil an attack on Akash'Flora by mysterious robot spiders. (RPG Adventure, SCRPG Starter Kit, cover)

#802 February 2017 - "Void if Broken" at the behest of Visionary. The heroes travel into the Void and recover the Void Heart crystal. (RPG Adventure, SCRPG Starter Kit, cover)

#803 March 2017 - "The Robot-Master - Revealed!" After adventures in a few other titles, the heroes return to Megalopolis. Other heroes are once again engaged in combat against even more spider bots. The Freedom Five follow their control signal to their source, an underwater base that's revealed to be run by Baron Blade who seems to have somehow cheated death during the OblivAeon event after all. The heroes capture him. Legacy decides to retire from active superheriocs, passing the Legacy mantle to his daughter. This is the final issue of the first volume of Freedom Five and marks the end of the Multiverse Era. (RPG Adventure, SCRPG Starter Kit, cover)

Volume 2, Vertex Imprint

#1 June 2019 - One of the launch titles of the new Vertex imprint. The first arc centers around Miss Information.

#13 June 2020 - Omnitron V (cover in Sentinel Tactics: The Flame of Freedom)

#36 May 2020 - Citizen Dawn "Rise" event (cover in Sentinel Tactics: The Flame of Freedom)

#70 March 2025 - Final issue, final month of the Vertex line.