The Liberators' first appearance, with Loki in front. Ultimates 2 #9.
Art by Bryan Hitch.
|Publisher||Marvel Comics (Ultimate Marvel imprint)|
|First appearance||The Ultimates 2 #9 (November 2005)|
|Created by||Mark Millar
Colonel Abdul al-Rahman
The Liberators are a group of fictional comic book supervillains appearing in books published by Marvel Comics who appear in comics set in the Ultimate Marvel universe. Created by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch, they appear in the miniseries The Ultimates 2. They are effectively the Ultimate universe's equivalents of the Masters of Evil.
The Liberators are a superhuman task force who appear at the climax of the plot arc. They spearhead an invasion of the United States and are from a coalition of nations opposed to the United States' foreign policy. This international collective is made up of China, Syria, North Korea, Iran, and rogue elements of the French and Russian governments. The Liberators and their overseers are an opposing counterpart to the Ultimates and S.H.I.E.L.D., respectively.
"We told you to stop making super people, America. We told you not to interfere with cultures you can never understand. This is what happens when your ambitions outstrip your capabilities. The empire takes a fall. Congratulations, ladies and gentlemen...The Great Satan has just been liberated."
- - The Colonel
The members of the Liberators, and the countries supporting them, have varying reasons for attacking the United States, but are all against the U.S.A. in one way or another. Their reasons range from the Colonel's hatred of the United States and his belief that their plans must be curtailed to the Chinese, Russians, French, Arabs, and North Koreans, who desire to stop further preemptive strikes, or Black Widow's belief that the United States has turned her country into a land full of "prostitutes and gangsters". Loki is the singular exception; he joins forces with the Liberators not out of any particular animosity towards the United States, but out of a simple desire to fulfill his role as the Lord of Mischief.
The Liberators (especially the Colonel) allege that the U.S.A. is a parallel to the Roman Empire. Coinciding with the conclusions of Niall Ferguson's work, they believe the U.S.A. to be an American Empire, and describe it as the "new Roman Empire".
- The Abomination ( China) - real name Chang Lam, he is the Liberators' version of the Hulk. He possesses supposedly greater strength and retains his genius intellect. He is light green and gigantic, but is bald, has pointed ears, scales on his shoulders, and a tail; save for the tail, the character resembles Bryan Hitch's character designs for the Abomination for the video game The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction. He was killed by the Hulk, Hulk mocking his belief that his greater intellect made him more dangerous than the Hulk. Like the mainstream Marvel Abomination, Chang Lam's strength is at a set level, while the Hulk's grows with his rage, quickly surpassing Chang Lam's.
- Colonel Abdul al-Rahman ( Iran) - first appears in The Ultimates 2 #7 as a thin and sickly 17-year-old Muslim boy from Iranian Azerbaijan (as stated in The Ultimates v2 #12) who witnesses Captain America led the invasion of his country, free of nuclear weapons. Outraged, he volunteers for an experimental program and becomes the Middle East counterpart to Captain America, as well as the only other person to survive the Super-Soldier process. He is killed by Captain America using the Colonel's own weapon to do so. However, his body was taken by S.H.I.E.L.D and sent to Dr. Branklin at the end of the "Grand Theft America" arc.
- The Crimson Dynamo ( China) - real name Alex Su, he is an analogue of Iron Man that has been fused within titanium V-R war suit and can fight independently or with his 50 giant-sized duplicates. He is killed by Iron Man (piloting the Iron Man Mark-VI) shortly after abandoning the Colonel's orders and opening fire on America civilians.
- Hurricane ( North Korea) - A woman with superhuman speed, The Liberators' version of Quicksilver. She boasts that she can outrun Quicksilver, but provokes Quicksilver to such a point that he grabs hold of her and shows the extent of his own power, tearing her body apart by pushing her beyond her usual endurance levels.
- Perun ( Russia) - a "Soviet Thor" who appears to have the same belt and vest that Thor wore and wields a hammer and a sickle with both hands. He is named after the Slavic god Perun. He surrenders to the U.S. military after the deaths of the other Liberators, citing this fact as his reason for surrender. He is later seen in the second story arc of Ultimate Comics: Avengers.
- Schizoid Man ( France) - A man augmented with stem cells stolen from Jamie Madrox that give him the same ability to create duplicates of himself. Prior to his assignment to the Liberators, he is said to have single handedly stopped riots in France. He is defeated by Captain America rather than killed, not without severe injuries.
- Swarm ( Syria) - real name Petra Laskov, a mutant woman with the ability to control any insect, millions at a time. She is killed by Janet Pym, but resurfaces as part of Nick Fury's Avengers with the codename Red Wasp.
- Loki ( Norway/Asgard) - Reveals himself to be the Norse God of Mischief who has aided the Liberators to cause the chaos and destruction associated with his name. Although he is not officially commissioned by the organization that controls the Liberators, he tags along with them and he seems to be responsible for multiple events that occur during Ultimates 2. Defeated by Thor and sent back to Asgard to receive punishment by Odin. Loki is apparently from Norway, but is acting under his own will, not ruled by any government. He states to Thor that he was jealous of his brother and only wished to prove himself worthy of Odin's admiration, therefore sharing a similar backstory to his mainstream Earth-616 counterpart.
- Black Widow ( Russia) - Natasha Romanova, a former KGB operative during the Cold War and former Black Operative in the Ultimates. She is a traitor to the Ultimates, whose identity remained concealed for a duration of the arc. Her motives for the betrayal were described as revenge for turning her formerly glorious country into a nation of "hookers and gangsters". She appears in Ultimates #13 in a hospital, recovering from self-inflicted cuts to her wrists (having done so to bleed out the nanobots Tony Stark used to incapacitate her). In revenge for the death of his family, Clint Barton tracks her to the hospital and kills her with an arrow between the eyes.
- Ant-Man ( USA) - Henry Pym, expelled member of the Ultimates. He creates the Ultron robots used by the Liberators for crowd control and peace keeping following the invasion. In issue #12 as the Liberators begin to be defeated, he starts to claim to have been working undercover, intending to infiltrate and betray the Liberators the entire time. During the Ultimates' counterattack, he reveals his plan by ordering the Ultron robots to attack the invading force. Despite his claims of loyalty to the Ultimates, he eventually winds up placed in the same cell which once held both Bruce Banner and Thor on the Triskellion at different stages of the series.
The complete extent of the support for the Liberators is unknown, but high-ranking officials and military personnel from the countries in the international collective are primarily associated with the responsibility of the Liberators and the invasion of the United States. The Colonel mentions that at least some leaders and heads of state, of various countries in the coalition, knew about the planned invasion or openly had a part in structuring it. A month prior to the invasion, The Liberators' overseers met for a briefing at a secret facility in France, regarding the final points of the planned invasion and the progress of The Liberators.
The Liberators are only a part of the multinational effort to conquer the United States. They are also supported by an array of forces:
- An indeterminate number of foot soldiers (at least several hundred, perhaps thousands), whose special suits grant enhanced strength and flight but consume their bodies within a month. They acted as a pure fighting force, seen disabling various S.H.I.E.L.D. personnel and capturing numerous targets. Unlike S.H.I.E.L.D.'s super soldiers, they were trained with fighting other superhumans as a priority, and kill much of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Giant Men and other metahuman soldiers.
- An armada of military airships used for transport. They flew over major target areas and dropped the battalions of flying soldiers from the skies. Counterparts to S.H.I.E.L.D.'s helicarriers.
- Fifty piloted giant-sized duplicates of Crimson Dynamo, with heavy armor and a large arsenal of weapons.
- Medical staff responsible for healing and tending to the wounded. One of their main purposes was to see that important American figures would be kept alive long enough for a planned public execution.
- Hank Pym's Ultron robots used for keeping the peace and crowd control. They were used for a containment procedure to keep civilians out of the war zones, but later attacked the foot soldiers under Pym's new orders.
After Hawkeye's capture, he is guarded by masked coalition soldiers with a circular logo of a black fist on a red background, which is also seen on the costumes of some of the Liberators.
Fictional team history
The Liberators first appear in Ultimates 2 #9 amid the chaos and destruction caused by the initial surprise attack by the foot soldiers. Previously in the series, there were numerous conspiring events responsible for weakening the United States and the Ultimates' power and strength. Some, the coalition had influenced, other events they simply took advantage of.
In Ultimates 2 #9, the Liberators' contingent forces bring down all of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s helicarriers on the Triskelion, and the Liberators appear and begin their attack on America. The coalition's soldiers dispatch the Ultimate Reserves and capture General Nick Fury, Betty Ross, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. Fury loses an arm in the process; he is given temporary medical care by his captors so as to be alive for later public executions. Within an hour, key facilities (such as major military and nuclear facilities, the Triskellion, the Baxter Building, and Xavier Mansion) have been captured and major cities (such as Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, and New York) have been restrained and controlled. They then topple the Statue of Liberty and upload a video of it on the Internet to display their power.
The Ultron robots, created by Hank Pym keep the peace and minimize civilian casualties during the occupation. All the Ultimates, X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Spider-Man are by this time captured and accounted for, except for the Wasp. Loki plans a public execution of all U.S. superhumans and the President at midnight.
Ultimates 2 #10 flashes back to an overview of the powers of each member of the Liberators, in the form of a presentation given beneath the Louvre in Paris, France. Also in this issue, Hawkeye escapes his captors- exploiting the fact that they left him his fingernails, he literally tears out his nails to use as weapons. Black Widow reveals herself as a traitor to Iron Man and kills Jarvis. Tony disables her after downloading information on the Liberators from her via the nanites he gave her back in issue #4. He also uses a wine bottle to help subdue her.
In Ultimates 2 #11, Hawkeye frees Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Betty Ross, and General Fury from captivity in the Oval Office. Captain America is freed by The Wasp. After joining forces with Hawkeye and the others, the group is attacked by dozens of coalition soldiers, the Swarm, Hurricane, and the Abomination. In the final pages, Hulk arrives, Banner transforming after being stepped on by one of the Crimson Dynamo robots. Banner proclaims that he's now 'in touch with his inner sociopath'.
In Ultimates 2 #12, the Hulk fights and kills the Abomination. Hawkeye and Captain America fight the Colonel. Hulk uses Captain America's shield to cut off the Colonel's hands and Captain America subsequently stabs the Colonel through the heart with his own weapon. Quicksilver proves himself faster than Hurricane by moving her at increasing speeds until she liquefies. Wasp injects herself with a new version of the Giant-Man formula that Hank gave her, subsequently stepping on Swarm. Nick Fury and Betty Ross rescue the President. Hawkeye evacuates the Vice President and his family. Iron Man descends in a suit more like a ship than armor, and destroys the Crimson Dynamo and his robots. Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, and the EDI super-soldiers fight off the rest of the Liberator's soldiers. Only Perun remains.
His group's success in peril, Loki reveals his full powers, rising above the fight and turning the sky orange. The Scarlet Witch responds by summoning Thor in the final page of issue #12, by increasing the odds of "someone showing up to kick [Loki's] ass".
In "Ultimates 2" #13, Thor breaks out of an illusion created by Loki. Thor apparently kills Loki, who disproves this by getting on his knees and summoning a great serpent (possibly analogous to Jormungand, the World Serpent). Loki flies away, summoning a great many mythical creatures including giant wolves, giants, trolls, goblins, dragons) Thor kills the serpent and proceeds to battle Loki and some of his duplicates. Norse warriors arrive and a titanic battle occurs with the Ultimates and the Asgardian Warriors against the summoned creatures. When Loki is defeated all the mythical creatures disappear; these events prove to the Ultimates that Thor's claims to be the genuine God of Thunder are true. With all of his friends dead, Perun surrenders, and the Ultimates unanimously agree that they must be independent from the government or risk another similar event. Hawkeye kills the Black Widow in retribution of his family. It is revealed that Tony Stark will be funding future Ultimates activities and that he is upset about the Black Widow's betrayal and death, until a passing blonde catches his interest. Hank Pym is at least temporarily locked away in the Triskelion, and the whereabouts of Bruce Banner have not yet been revealed. The issue ends with a flashback of Captain America and his then-fiancée, Gail, shortly before the super-soldier experiments were done on him.
- Ultimates 2 #9
- Ultimates 2 #13
- Ultimates 2 #12
- Ultimate Comics: Avengers 2 #3
- Ultimates 2 #11
- Ultimate Avengers #5
- Ultimate Comics: Avengers #2
- Ultimates 2 #10
- Ultimate X-Men #75