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BLOG The Freedom Collective review

A tribute to the Silver Age of Marvel, with a Russian flavour

“This State Divided”
Script by Comrade Barr
Pencils and Lettering by Domski Regan
Pencils Lackey work by Kurt Siblomov
Inks by Alexander Davidovich

“Ghost Ship of the Reich”
Script by Comrade Barr
Pencils, Inks and Lettering by Zieklov Kirbloski

“Battling Barbarians from Beyond”
Script by Comrade Barr
Pencils, Inks and Lettering by Domski Regan

Published by Rough Cut • £9.99

Welcome comrades to the State-Approved adventures of The Freedom Collective! Together, The Krimson Komissar, the ice goddess Ajys, daredevil part-pilot, part-plane Mig 4, Russian elemental Homeland and the mighty Mastodon defend the paradise of the People against the evils of capitalism. Remember! Vigilance at all times! Report everything!

This is FUN. A note-perfect parody of classic Marvel titles, The Freedom Collective moves the same energy, angst and hugely overblown stories that early superhero comics made their name on across the Iron Curtain. Mixed with the propaganda of war-time comics it creates something which is equal parts alternate history and affectionate parody of the birth of the modern superhero.

There’s almost too much to mention here, but my favourite stories, “This State Divided” and “Ghost Ship Of The Reich” both tell legitimately fun, smart stories around these references and in-jokes. “State Divided” introduces The Siberian Six, the Russian Fantastic Four in a story of mistaken identity, superhero fighting superhero and the evils of capitalism. Culminating in a fight with the animated Statue of Liberty and President Kennedy, aka The Chief, driving a combat robot, it’s frantically paced, delightfully over-the-top and huge fun. “Ghost Ship” is even better, simultaneously playing with the “supernatural Nazis” trope and telling a surprisingly dark story about a scientist who aided them in the war and how he redeems himself. The Nick Fury analogue in this story is also really fun.

A project like this lives and dies on its creative team getting the joke but not being over enamored with it and that’s just what you get here. Barr’s scripts are the perfect balance of OTT and subtle, with welcome streaks of jet black humour where the Komissar in particular is concerned. The respective art teams really seal the deal, each able to imitate the “classic” style whilst still making it their own. You get notes of propaganda, alternate history and old school superhero goofy all wrapped up in the wonderfully sly script. Even better, there are some really fun additional pages, like the secret origins of the Freedom Collective and a breakdown of The Siberian Six’s secret HQ. On the one hand these are another note perfect homage to the era the book is parodying. On the other, there’s a deliciously sinister, clear-eyed element to them that helps life the already impressive material.

The Freedom Collective is one of the wittiest comics you’ll read this year. If you love old style superheroes, but don’t love them so much to be offended when they’re parodied, then this is absolutely for you. Even if you don’t, The Party recommends this book unreservedly. Honour the party, Citizen, and get ready for one of the oddest, most entertaining reads you’ll have this year.

Alasdair Stuart

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Available platformsTV