Captain Freedom and The Young Defenders chase Dr. Deemon. Artist: Arthur Cazeneuve.

CAPTAIN FREEDOM

Medium: Comic Books
Published by: Harvey Comics
First Appeared: 1941
Creators: Unknown writer, and Arthur Cazeneuve, artist
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Even before America entered World War II, comic book racks were getting crammed with flag-wearing superheroes — not just The Shield from MLJ Comics, who started the trend, and Captain America from Marvel, who first comes to mind when we think of the sub-genre, but also DC's Star-Spangled Kid, Quality Comics' Uncle Sam, Fawcett's Minute Man, off-brand guys …

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… like Miss Victory and Yankee Doodle Jones, and more. But there's always room for one more, the publishers of Speed Comics (where the main star was Shock Gibson) figured. It was during that period, that Captain Freedom debuted in Speed's 13th issue (May, 1941), the same one that also launched Pat Parker, War Nurse. By #16, Cap was the title's cover-featured star.

Captain Freedom was Don Wright, heroic newspaper publisher in his day job, who put on a costume when nobody was looking and fought America's enemies on the home front. Spies, saboteurs, black marketeers and the like were his antagonists. Nobody suspected his secret identity — not even the four news delivery kids who assisted him as The Young Defenders. Their names seemed to be Lefty, Whitey, Slim, and Joanie — but later, Whitey became "Beanie", and the name "Blackie" was occasionally used for one of them. Anyway, except for Joanie, the token female, it was hard to tell which was which.

The whole bunch was supposedly created by a guy named "Franklin Flagg", which has "phoney name" written all over it. The actual writer is unknown, but the artist on the first several outings was Arthur (aka Arturo) Cazeneuve, whose other credits include The Flame and Vigilante. Speed Comics was originally published by an outfit called Brookwood Publications, but with its 14th issue (Captain Freedom's second appearance) it was taken over by Harvey Comics, now most closely associated with Richie Rich, Baby Huey and the like.

A high point in Captain Freedom's publishing history came in #s 17-20, when he appeared on covers drawn by the legendary team of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby (also responsible for The Newsboy Legion, Fighting American. Young Romance and more). But at no time did anyone of their calibre work on him in the inside pages.

Unlike a lot of those superheroes who wrapped themselves in the flag, Captain Freedom outlasted World War II. In fact, he survived to the demise of Speed Comics itself, which occurred with its 44th issue (February, 1947). Except for a few Black Cat reprints, Harvey didn't participate in the 1960s revival of '40s heroes (what few it did during that decade were new creations such as Jigsaw and Bee-Man), so Captain Freedom hasn't been back.

— DDM

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Text ©2006-10 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Harvey Comics.