But after a particularly vigorous work-out during their first few days at the base on Gibraltar, when several dozen of the heroes had tried to take on Namor, the Torch, the Fiery Mask, the Super Slave, and the other, most powerful of the Liberators, only to be embarrassingly defeated, the Ferret, the private eye from New York, had dryly dubbed them "the Murderers Row," and the name stuck.
This wasn't something that the members of the Murderers Row viewed as a wholly good thing. Almost from the first moment that they'd arrived in Gibraltar and begun training, Doc Savage and Captain America - by unspoken consensus the leaders of the Liberators - had tried to drill squad-level tactics into the heroes, but had also stressed that forming cliques or teams among themselves would be disadvantageous in combat, and possibly lethal; an undue dependence on individuals could prove fatal in a firefight, and so Savage and Captain America wanted each member of the Liberators to be able to be interchangeable among each other in the squads, so that the death of one or several heroes wouldn't prove that damaging to the Liberators' overall effectiveness.
But for all of Captain America's and Doc Savage's good intentions, and for all the thoroughness and intensity of the training at Gibraltar (which had often gone on for 14 or 18 hours a day), cliques had inevitably formed among the Liberators, both at that time and in the weeks and months afterwards. The members of the Murderers Row found themselves working together at least half the time, attacking strongly-held positions and powerful opponents en masse, and as was usual with groups of people who were teamed together in dangerous and life-threatening situations, bonds formed between them. After a few weeks had gone by, many of the members of the Murderers Row found they preferred working with other Row members as opposed to the rest of the Liberators; while the missions they went on were more dangerous than those of the non-Row Liberators, the Row members knew that the other Row members would be more capable of helping them out of a jam. They never mentioned this to the other Liberators, and only rarely discussed it among themselves, but they all knew that, when the time came, they'd rather have the Blue Diamond or the Vision at their back than, say, the Phantom Bullet or Ghost Girl.
Some of the other cliques made a certain amount of sense. The women of the Liberators, outnumbered by over 10 to 1 by the men, almost unconsciously gathered together when they could, if only to talk things over; many of the men in the Liberators, though good and moral men, had certain attitudes towards the female sex that the women in the Liberators sometimes found hard to take. Too, talking with the other women was often a pleasant change and a relief from talking to the men, who, though friendly, rarely revealed much of themselves, which was not the case with the women.
The Native Americans of the Liberators gathered together for much the same reason; while the other Liberators usually tried to be friendly and accommodating, sometimes they betrayed unconscious prejudices. And sometimes it was just a relief to be among others who were outsiders in American culture; while their tribes - Cheyenne, Blackfoot, Comanche, and Sarcee - were as much strangers to each other as they were to white American culture, they still found a certain mutual fellowship in being outsiders. The Human Top, the lone Negro in the Liberators, found himself with them, too; while his background, in urban Detroit, was as different from that of the Red Wolf or Silent Fox or the others as it was from most of the white Liberators, he still found it comforting to talk with them, if only because he could relax the face that he showed most of the white Liberators and be more of himself. The same held true for the Golden Girl, the only Japanese-American in the Liberators.
The kids and teenagers, of course, were together all the time. Bucky and Davey and Namora and Toro and Marvel Boy and the Young Avenger and the Dyna-Mite and the Golden Girl spent their time away from the front getting in and out of trouble, playing games, and doing the things young people have always done. Roko often joined them in their games, which struck them as peculiar - he was an adult, after all, why was he interested in playing stickball or hide-and-seek with them? - but they didn't object and found themselves enjoying his company. They were sad when Namor told them Gryth died while hunting submarines, but on some level they'd known that people would be leaving the Liberators unexpectedly, whether being killed or injured or some other reason, and it was something they'd grown to live with. (This attitude struck many of the Liberators as being a peculiarly adult approach to life, and something that children shouldn't have to think about; it worried them that the kids seemed resigned to it) As well, the sudden deaths, back in November, of Tim and Rusty and the Victory Boys had shocked them into an acceptance of the prospect of sudden and immediate loss.
Likewise, the magicians often had private chat sessions, as did the pilots and the scientists and the mentats. Members of former teams like the Invaders or the Crusaders often got together to shoot the breeze. Others of the little cliques were not so predictable. The Moon Man, the Silver Scorpion, the Yankee Clipper, and the Blazing Skull were an almost-inseparable foursome. Captain Daring and the Angel and Captain Wonder were constant drinking companions. The Ferret and the Phantom Reporter and the Phantom Bullet and the Phantom of the Underworld and Mister E, hard-bitten natives of big cities, found each others' company acceptable and stayed up late many nights playing poker.
Some of the others, though, were, for whatever reason, outsiders even among the Liberators. The Blue Blade's sexual orientation was not exactly a secret, and although many of the Liberators were friendly with him (the women especially) many of the others (especially the more religious members) were not, and ostracized him. The Blue Blaze and the Vision creeped most of the other Liberators out, but they, not needing normal human interaction, did not mind this. And then there were a few folks like Breeze Barton, who were taciturn to the point of impassivity, and who made no effort to get to know the other Liberators and so made no friends; they were a part of the Liberators without actually being a member of the team, a fact that hadn't had a bad effect on the Liberators. Yet.
Go back to Liberators #25