Quick: how many comics have you read this week that open with seven-panel pages that carry nineteen word balloons? That's how this seventh issue (and the seventh installment of this storyline) of "Freedom Fighters" opens, and it ratchets up from there. This issue puts the Freedom Fighters on the path of finding the third artifact that will be used to ransom the Vice President back.
Last issue ended with Miss America storming Dollman's house with a phalanx of S.H.A.D.E. soldiers. Here we find out they're not attacking Dollman, but arriving to protect his family while the Freedom Fighters recruit Dollman for this mission. The exposition where Dollman reunites with the team is mishandled, as Ray gives him a shout out, but couldn't possibly see Dollman, who is perched on the far shoulder (other side of her head from Ray) of Miss America.
As I already mentioned, there is a lot that happens in this issue. The team goes looking for the third artifact and happens across their foe which, naturally, leads to a huge fight. The dynamic within the team - or lack of a team dynamic - causes the squad to lose footing in their battle, and they are made to look amateurish rather quickly.
Moore renders the chaos of battle effectively, but in some spots it is almost too effective, as the foreground seems to melt into the background, forcing a brief study of some panels to discern the components in play. Some of the murkiness might be attributable to Walden Wong getting accustomed to Moore's pencils, or it could be reflective of Passalaqua's colors, but whatever the cause, there are panels that would benefit from being rendered more cleanly.
This series has seen the death of one stalwart team member, and another member of the team perishes in this issue and the team dynamic shifts once more. Comic book casualties are a dime a dozen, and in this instance that feels true, save for the dramatic results stemming from the slaying of a Freedom Fighter. It's a final page that is an image worthy of poster treatment.
With less than a handful of issues left in the series, this issue does a great job of stepping up the story a little. There's been a great deal of activity in the first seven issues of this series, so much so that it certainly seems like I've read more than seven issues. I'm thankful for that. Palmiotti and Gray have a passion for these characters, and a story that they feel needs to be told, and that translates nicely to the final page. I'm sure some subplots or character beats are going to be curtailed with the pending end of this title, but for now, this is an enjoyable read. This issue is no exception, and for all its thickness, it provides the type of story where you can start here and just enjoy.