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Freedom Ring

freedomring01Strawberry-blond Curtis Doyle is first seen meeting a group of friends at their local hangout, the Happy Sunrise Diner in Greenwich Village. The friends make small talk and point out to Curtis that the waiter, Jeffrey, is flirting with him. Later outside the diner Curtis finds a ring lying on the sidewalk and keeps it.

Back in his apartment the unemployed Curtis is surprised to find his wish for a large ice cream sundae to appear out of thin air. His friend Troy, who lives in the same building, shows up later in the day in response to Curtis’ frantic message about “magic sundaes.” By now he’s figured out the ring is responsible for manifesting his desires. Unknown to Curtis, the material for the ring came from a fragment of the Cosmic Cube. Note: the ring had played a part in previous issues of Marvel Team-Up. A night of practicing leads to the discovery that the ring’s power has two limitations: things will disappear if Curtis loses his concentration and if the distance between Curtis and the object is more than 15 feet.

The next day Curtis and Troy join the gang at Happy Sunrise again. On his way out, Curtis is surprised to be asked out on a date by Jeffrey.

In the opening scene in issue #21, Curtis is showing off costume ideas for Troy. A couple of pages later, Curtis meets Jeffrey outside his building for their date. Curtis admits it’s been a while since he’s been on a date, and it shows when he says he’s brought a CD as a gift instead of flowers, and then suggests dinner at McDonalds followed by a movie. Jeffrey is assertive enough to nix fast food in favor of a new, trendy restaurant. Their two-hour wait for a table is interrupted by loud crashing noises, prompting the line of people to run. In sort of a gay take on the old Clark Kent schtick, Curtis feigns fear, screams, and runs away from Jeffrey in order to change into Freedom Ring.

The Abomination is on a rampage, and Spider-Man is trying to contain him when Freedom Ring comes onto the scene. Curtis gets in a couple of shots, and thanks to Spider-Man’s quick rescue, is saved from a pummeling. Despite Spider-Man’s caution, Curtis is knocked unconscious by the Abomination. Spider-Man whisks him off to the nearest hospital.

Curtis’ story next picks up in issue #22 with his friends talking with a doctor at St. John’s Hospital. She informs them he has massive internal injuries and damage to his spine, and a coma has been induced. Troy is at Curtis’ bedside when Jeffrey
comes to visit. The two share a few words.

Curtis learns from his doctor he’s paralyzed from the waist down and will not walk again. Two days later Troy brings him home. Alone, the idea occurs to him to try the ring to make his legs work. Excited by this turn, Curtis runs down the hallway to Troy’s apartment. From the corner of his eye, Curtis catches another neighbor watching him (apparently this has been happening for a while), and Curtis walks into this stranger’s apartment to confront him, only to be surprised to see Troy there. But it really isn’t Troy. It’s a Skrull who’s been sent to earth to spy on the Avengers, but gave up in

frustration when the super group disappeared (during Avengers Disassembled). The Skrull confides he’s thought about becoming a super hero and the talk turns to Curtis. It’s the Skrull who suggests the ring can make Curtis invulnerable, and proposes they try the ring out. Curtis trains with the Skrull for two full weeks before going out on patrol.

insane. Like the 616 Tony Stark, this one has cybernetic armor. He’d escaped from the SHIELD helicarrier and was going to On their first time out, Freedom Ring and Crusader (the codename the Skrull takes when appearing as a human super hero) encounter Iron Maniac. This villain is Tony Stark from an alternate earth where the Avengers died and as a result he wentattack the Baxter Building, hoping to get equipment to send him home.

Freedom Ring heedlessly attacks Iron Maniac. The insane Stark easily takes out Crusader, and then Curtis. Captain America, Spider Woman, and Luke Cage arrive just in time witness Stark drop Curtis and plunge to the ground. Curtis reverts to his regular appearance as Spider Woman carries him to a nearby pair of EMTs with a gurney.

Iron Maniac defeats the three Avengers in record time, and turns toward a now conscious Crusader, punching a fist through Crusader’s stomach. Miraculously, Curtis has woken up and transformed into Freedom Ring again. Curtis uses his ring to immobilize Iron Maniac, and inadvertently tells the villain the ring is his source of power. Stark uses his armor to morph into sharp spikes that he uses first to cut off Curtis’ ring finger, then to pierce his head and then his entire body twenty-eight times. The Avengers regain consciousness just as quickly, and Cap defeats Iron Maniac with a quick and forceful blow to the head with a toss of his shield.

Curtis is buried a few days later. Off panel, super heroes have come to pay their respects and left. His friends and Jeffrey are shown at graveside questioning why their friend tried to become a super hero and wondering where the mysterious ring went. For the curious, the ring was retrieved by the Skrull who is shown on the last page wearing it and being served by a pair of accommodating Skrull women.

Curtis’ power came from a ring he found on a sidewalk. The ring had been made out of a fragment of the Cosmic Cube. He simply needed to concentrate on an idea to make an object materialize or to induce a change, such as becoming invulnerable, or to give himself the power of flight.

Curtis’ first appears and is confirmed gay in Marvel Team-Up #20, vol 2. Curtis’ Skrull neighbor and trainer appeared in The Avengers Initiative book, notable # 15 – 17 before disappearing after being shot by the 3D Man (formerly Triathalon).  In #15 he says he honored Curtis in the Skrull tradition by taking up his weapon (the ring) after his death.

Created by Robert Kirkman and Andy Kuhn. Art by Kuhn and Marte Garcia.

All rights reserved Marvel Entertainment.

July 12, 2021
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