Major Liberty's origin was more complicated than that, of course. John Liberty, a Professor of American History at Princeton University, was outraged at the actions of various German and German-American saboteurs, enough so that he was ranting and waving his fists in fury. He was then visited by a ghost, or what seemed to be a ghost; the ghost spoke kindly to him, praising his patriotism and with a nod granting Liberty this new power. Liberty had instantly gone out in his new costume and broken up the biggest band of saboteurs in New Jersey, but within a few days he came to the conclusion that what had happened to him was not nearly so simple as it had first appeared.

The ghost had seemed to be just that, when Liberty had spoken with him. But more and more as time passed Liberty became possessed of the idea that the ghost had actually been a human being. When he thought about it or concentrated on it, the image his mind gave him was of a white translucent figure with indistinct features, but when Liberty wasn't thinking about it he sometimes got memory flashes of the "ghost" being a balding man with a beard and penetrating eyes. Sometimes Liberty dreamt about his encounter with the "ghost," and he saw the balding man more clearly; he wore a business suit and spoke English with a British accent, and what he'd told Liberty was quite different from what Liberty remembered the ghost telling him, although on waking Liberty could never remember just what it was that the balding man had told him.

After a few weeks of these dissonant memories Liberty overheard Marvel Boy and the Young Avenger talking about how each of them got their powers. Liberty asked them if they'd had odd dreams about a bald man, and each of the boys were visibly startled and agreed that, yes, they had had such dreams. Liberty had tried to do further investigating into this matter but had been discouraged from it by Doc Savage and the various leaders of AlPanCom and had eventually shelved it, deciding that his attention was needed in the here and now.

A more startling aspect of his new powers, and one that didn't reveal itself until a few weeks into his existence as a Marvel, was that the ghosts he could summon were not all or even mostly from the past. He'd been helping Zephyr Jones clean up a batch of Bundists with surprisingly advanced weaponry who had been terrorising the factory workers of Elizabeth City when he told his ghosts to round up the traitors. To his shock he saw the ghosts of Captain America and the Patriot leading the other spirits. After the battle was over he'd asked them how and when they'd died; he hadn't heard anything about it and was horrified at the notion that America wouldn't have its leading crimefighter. Captain America said, "In 2014, fighting against the Red Skull II." The Patriot had said, "In 1946, at the hands of Adam II." Although Liberty was bright, he did not realise the truth until he spoke with a strangely dressed ghost who called himself Stephen Strange.

The ghosts that Liberty summoned up and controlled came from the afterlife, where there is no time, only an eternal Now. So Liberty had access to the ghosts of patriotic Americans from three centuries ago and three centuries into the future.

This was sobering to Liberty, not least because he'd never really been sure about Heaven and Hell. It was also led to a big temptation for him. He could speak with the ghosts and command them to do things for him; why couldn't he make them tell him about the future? He wrestled with this temptation for a long time before finally resisting; he wasn't sure the knowledge would do him much good, and he was, frankly, afraid of what he might learn.

A further and final shock for Liberty came when he saw Robert E. Lee among the ghosts he commanded. Liberty pulled the Strange ghost aside and demanded to know how such a foul, murdering beast such as Lee could be counted among the otherwise noble patriots. Strange told him that there were patriots in Hell as well as in Heaven, something which Liberty had not considered and which made him uneasy. He continued to use his ghosts, as they were needed for the war effort, but more and more he found himself watching them as they did as he'd commanded; who among them might be as evil as Lee, who had prolonged for months a war he knew he could not win and whose stubborness had led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands?

And sometimes Liberty thought that the ghosts were watching him....



Notes

While there's no implication in the original stories that the origins of Major Liberty, Marvel Boy and the Young Avenger were linked, it seemed to me that there was a certain commonality between them. And when I discovered an obscure but yet potentially significant fact about Dr. Druid (which you can find in his entry on  my Guide to Marvel's Pre-FF #1 Heroes page), I saw that there was a very obvious link between the three GA heroes and Anthony Ludgate, a link which will be explored in future issues of Liberators.


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