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DUANE FREEMAN

Real Name: Duane Jerome Freeman

Identity/Class: Human

Occupation: US federal agent, security liaison to the Avengers

Group Membership: Triune Understanding (Jonathan Tremont and unnamed others)

Affiliations: Avengers (Captain America/Steve Rogers, Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff, Firestar/Angelica Jones, Hawkeye/Clint Barton, Iron Man/Tony Stark, Justice/Vance Astrovik, Ms. Marvel/Carol Danvers, Scarlet Witch/Wanda Maximoff, Thor/Thor Odinson, Triathlon/Delroy Garrett Vision/"Victor Shade"), Commission On Superhuman Activities (including Valerie Cooper, Henry Peter Gyrich), Edwin Jarvis, Madame Masque (Giuletta Kristina Nefaria), Thunderbolts (Atlas/Erik Josten, Charcoal/Charles Burlingame, Hawkeye/Clint Barton, Mach-II/Abe Jenkins aka Matt Davis, Moonstone/Karla Sofen, Songbird/Melissa Gold), USAgent (John Walker)

Enemies: Kang the Conqueror, Machine Man (X-51), Sentinels, the Triple Evil

Known Relatives: Derek Freeman (brother), Raymond Washington (nephew)

Aliases: None

Base of Operations: Washington D.C., Avengers Mansion (New York)

First Appearance: Avengers III#4 (May, 1998)

Powers/Abilities: Duane Freeman did not possess any superpowers, but he was a capable administrator and a helpful, loyal liaison to the Avengers. Furthermore, Duane was an avid and unashamed fan of superheroes, following their exploits like others would follow sportsteams. The Avengers were a particular favorite of his, as the many autographs, scrapbooks, toys, comics and other memorabilia he had collected over the years proved. According to the Wasp, he also had the cutest dimples.

History:

(Avengers III#4 -BTS) - After the Avengers reassembled in the wake of the "Heroes Reborn" event, federal agent Duane Freeman was assigned to work with the team as their new security liaison, replacing Raymond Sikorski who had fulfilled that position prior to their disappearance at the end of the Onslaught crisis. At some undisclosed point, Freeman also joined the Triune Understanding, a philosophical movement that preached the harnessing of a person's own triple strength.

(Avengers III#4) - Duane joined the founding members of the Avengers at Avengers Mansion during their deliberations on the new lineup. He immediately managed to surprise everyone by stating he didn't have any requirements for reinstating the team's security clearances, which had always been a hot button issue to his predecessors Sikorski and Henry Peter Gyrich. He ensured the Avengers that he was just here to make their job easier by keeping the proverbial red tape to a bare minimum. His open, eager attitude made Iron Man wonder repeatedly if Duane really was from the government. With Duane's help, the founders managed to narrow down the new line up, but he surprised Iron Man and the others again when he wondered if it was okay to ask the Avengers that didn't make the cut for their autographs before they left. After the Avengers' starting lineup had been formalised, he introduced the team of Captain America, Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, Thor, Vision and Warbird to the media gathered outside Avengers Mansion.

main image (Avengers III#5) -
Duane called an Avengers emergency meeting from his office in Washington D.C. Adressing the team via video, he told them an airplane carrying a team of Project: PEGASUS researchers had crashed in the Atlantic off the coast of Maine. Because the scientists were assigned to research a sunken alien vessel that had at one time been part of Thanos' invasion fleet, the government suspected foul play. Duane asked the Avengers to help rescue the passengers of the airplane and to be present, just in case who or whatever caused the craft to crash was still out there. Captain America overruled Hawkeye's protests and ordered the team to move out.

(Iron Man III#15 (fb)) - After fighting Ronan the Accuser on the Moon alongside the Fantastic Four, Iron Man managed to use the Kree power core the Accuser was after to supply power to the SHIELD's Project Starcore lunar base. Iron Man then contacted Duane Freeman to give him a status update and to complain about the fact SHIELD had denied the Fantastic Four access to key databases. Freeman couldn't tell him why SHIELD was uncooperative, but promised to find out.

(Avengers III#14) - After the mysterious, powerful entity called Pagan attacked the Avengers in New York, Duane informed Captain America that Pagan had also appeared in Branson, Missouri and San Francisco where he damaged the Golden Gate bridge. Freeman explained to Cap that the villain's motivations behind these seemingly random attacks remained a mystery, as Captain America promised to make Pagan a top priority.

(X-51#4) - Duane Freeman called in to Avengers Mansion and found Edwin Jarvis was on monitor duty. Duane informed the butler that because Avengers reservist Machine Man had turned against the government, his special Avengers priviliges should be revoked immediately. Freeman also charged the team to bring their wayward member in. Only Firestar and Justice were present at that time, so they went and faced X-51 in downtown New York, later joined by the Vision.

(X-51#5) - While enjoying an anything but spectacular cup of coffee in his Washington office, Duane received a vid call from Avengers Mansion. A startled Edwin Jarvis told Duane that their worst fears regarding X-51's situation had been realized. Before he could ask any questions, the screen went blank. Figuring that it would take a lot to get Jarvis riled up, Duane immediately called Henry Peter Gyrich and the Commission on Superhuman Activities to tell them about the problem in New York.

(Avengers III#24) - Hoping to help the Avengers deal with the growing public unrest about their supposed lack of minorities, Duane tried to aid the team by figuring out the best way to deal with these allegations. Their PR-damage control discussions were interrupted by visiting Avenger Quicksilver who ran in, accusing the Triune Understanding of being secretly responsible for the bad press the team had been getting. Shocked, Duane revealed himself as a Triune member and was outraged by the allegation. The Avengers seemed equally surprised, but before they could get deeper into the matter, the Exemplars and their flying island base appeared over New York, in search for their wayward member Juggernaut. Duane and Jarvis watched the team move out to confront the Exemplars.

(Avengers III#25) - As the Avengers prepared for their final battle against the Exemplars, Duane provided Captain America with all the background information the US government had available on them. Still uncomfortable with Duane's newly revealed status as a Triune member, Cap gave him the cold shoulder. Duane picked up on this and confronted Cap, but he assured Freeman that he truly didn't hold his allegiance with the Understanding against him. Still, when Duane suggested that the Exemplars conflict might be easily avoided by giving them the Juggernaut, Cap snapped. Comparing surrendering the Juggernaut to Britain standing by as Hitler took Poland, he coldly informed Duane that the Avengers would defend the Juggernaut. Even if that meant their government clearances would be yanked as a result. Duane took the verbal abuse in stride, but Cap immediately felt guilty, realizing the reason he overreacted was Duane's ties to the Triune Understanding.

main image (Avengers III#27) - Duane assembled the active Avengers at mansion to discuss the many public relations nightmares that had been plaguing them recently. From protesters picketing the mansion, demanding either more minority members or no more mutants, to Thor hurling his hammer through a TV camera, not to mention Captain America deciding to resign from active duty so a more media savvy leader could guide the team. Cap wasn't the only Avenger leaving, though: Wonder Man, Firestar and Justice announced they'd be going as well. Duane openly mused about the opportunities these departures created:"Not bad, not bad at all... Fewer mutants, but we've still got one, which defuses the anti-mutants crowd without relaxing our stance on mutant rights. And now we've got a chance to add a black member or...". A furious Iron Man overheard and confronted Duane, who apologetically explained that recruiting a person of color would simply help appease the public protests. Furthermore, he offered the notion that the Avengers might unconsciously have been selecting white members. In order to create an equal playing field, Duane suggested the Avengers asked past members to rejoin,  starting with their black or latino members. When this recruitment drive didn't yield any results, Duane inadvertently caused Thor to resign when he demanded the thundergod apologised publicly for assaulting that camera crew. Infuriated at the very notion, the god of thunder stormed  out of the mansion, and in earshot of the press, blamed Freeman for having shattered the Avengers. Undisturbed and professional as ever, Duane proceeded to reinstate disgraced Avenger Warbird upon Iron Man's request, even as he'd already okayed the Wasp and Goliath for active duty. The membership drive was interruped by the arrival of the Triune Understanding's leader Jonathan Tremont. He had come to the mansion to make peace with the Avengers. However, with everyone distracted by Tremont's arrival, a group of anti-mutant terrorists decided to assault the mansion to get their point across. When the Triune's personal super hero Triathlon stepped in and defeated them, Duane asked Triathlon if he wanted to join the team. Freeman then vehemently defended Triathlon's application, even threatening to shut down the Avengers if they dared to deny a member based on ethnicity or religious beliefs. The team grudgingly accepted Thriatlon, in response Freeman went along with the Wasp's suggestion of allowing She-Hulk to serve as a reserve member for the Vision who was still AWOL at the time. As he watched the new Avengers lineup of Iron Man, Wasp, Goliath, Scarlet Witch, She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel and Triathlon go out to present themselves, Duane felt bad about his role in the decision making process.

(Avengers III#31 - BTS) - Shortly after his "coming out" as a Triune member, Duane discreetly started to investigate the Triune Understanding. He wondered how the Understanding could have gotten hold of the Avengers' classified priority communication frequencies and made some subtle inquiries to find out if the rumors about illegal Triune activities were true.

(Avengers III#31) - Duane watched Iron Man, Wasp and Scarlet Witch put Hank Pym through a battery of medical tests to determine the cause of his seizures during a recent mission against Kulan Gath in Costa Verde. When the tests proved inconclusive, Duane agreed with Pym that it was probably just a temporary weakness, possibly a virus or an aftereffect of Gath's magics.  In response, Iron Man snipped at him that ignoring possible problems wasn't the best advice a security liaison could give. Later, Duane was present when the Vision called in to summon the Avengers to Chicago, where a meeting between the European and American Maggia leaders was about to take place. Duane saw the team off and mentioned in passing that, while tackling organised crime might not be a typical task for the Avengers, it would be great for their public image. Iron Man coldly agreed as the Wasp promised to call from Chicago. Watching them go, Duane wondered to himself when and if he would ever fit in now that his status as a Triune member was revealed.

(Thunderbolts I#44) - Duane joined the Avengers, the Thunderbolts and Madame Masque in their briefing on the whereabouts and plans of Count Nefaria and his ionically controlled underlings Atlas and Wonder Man. 

(Maximum Security#1) - After the Shi'ar turned Earth into a penal colony for alien supercriminals, Duane visited Avengers Mansion to give the team an update about the various extraterrestrial threats. He patched the mansion's comsystem into the Commission On Superhuman Activities' datafeed, the initial images showing footage of Daredevil, the New Warriors and the Winter Guard engaged in fights with alien criminals including Devos the Devastator, Spragg the Living Hill, Insidio, Nygorn, Skar & Threkker.

(Avengers III#35) - Duane, Valerie Cooper and Henry Peter Gyrich, accompanied the USAgent when he visited Avengers Mansion to inform the team that they, along with every other superhero on the planet, had been commandeered to join together in a final confrontation against the alien aggressors.

(Avengers III#38) - After the Avengers had switched to a more pro-active, global style of superheroing, Duane gave them their first international mission when the inhabitants of the small Grecian town of Kalkhimithia were turned into Hulks by the mad alchemist Diablo.

(Avengers Annual 2001/2 - BTS) - With the files of the Commission On Superhuman Activities in slight disarray, Duane emailed Edwin Jarvis a series of questions to straighten these matters out. For instance, Duane wanted to know why the triple homicide charges against Iron Man were dropped, what happened to the teenage Tony Stark and the Wasp's mutated insectoid form following Onslaught. He also inquired about the composition of Captain America's shield and wondered whether or not the Falcon was a mutant. Jarvis dutifully set the record straight.

(Avengers III#49 - BTS) - Duane was among the many casualties caused by Kang the Conqueror when he assaulted and decimated Washington D.C.

(Avengers III#55 (fb) - BTS) - After his brother's death, Derek Freeman discovered the preliminary results of Duane's investigation into the Triune Understanding's shady dealings. Duane had uncovered that Triune leader Jonathan Tremont was able to read the minds of his followers, which may have been how the Triunes got the Avengers' classified frequencies. Not wanting to be a security risk, Duane started a formal letter of resignation but, obviously, died before sending it.

(Avengers III#55 - BTS) - In the wake of the war against Kang and his forces, Duane was revealed to have perished in Washington D.C. during the Conqueror's final assault on the city. 

(Avengers III#55) -  Duane's brother Derek visited the mansion to collect Duane's personal belongings. Iron Man met with Derek, who told the Avenger about his brother's passion for superheroes, his love for the Avengers and how happy it made him to work for the team. Iron Man confessed to Derek that he felt uneasy about working with Duane after it became clear he was a member of the Triune Understanding. Derek then revealed what he had learned about Duane and his investigation into the Triunes. Iron Man felt guilty about the way he had treated Duane, saying he really should have told the liaison how he liked and respected him. Derek assured him not to worry about that: his brother was the smart one in the family and always knew the score. Several days later, Iron Man, Wasp and Captain America visited the memorial for Kang's victims in Washington D.C and paid tribute to Duane, whose picture was put up there, among the other fallen.

Comments: Created by Kurt Busiek, George Pérez, Al Vey.

I always found Duane to be a welcome breath of fresh air: finally someone from the government who recognized the good the Avengers do and was actually interested in helping them do their jobs. His outing as a Triune member in Avengers III#27 was also a wonderful moment that had been foreshadowed for over two years: ever since his first appearance Duane could be seen wearing the Understanding's logo on either his tie or lapel. Talk about planning ahead!

When asked about his decision to kill Duane (off panel no less) in the closing arc of his Avengers run, writer and creator Kurt Busiek had the following to say:  "It made it more of a human moment to learn that among the many, many dead in Kang's assault on Washington DC, there was someone we knew, rather than having it all be faceless, dismissable deaths. Duane's story wasn't an ongoing adventure -- he'd shown himself to be a supportive liaison who liked the Avengers. The disagreement over the Triune Understanding had largely been resolved; he wasn't a spy for them or anything, merely a believer in their philosophy. So there wasn't some storyline we were interrupting. Had he died on-panel, I don't think it'd have made for a better story. The memorial story brought home the human cost of the attack better than a two-panel sequence showing him dying, and thus meaning it didn't come as a shock later."

Just how he died wasn't revealed either. He might have been killed during the initial assault by the Sentinel fleet Kang had commandeered. Maybe he perished when Kang's orbital base Damocles fired at the Master's defense walls. He could have been hit by the giant holographic Kang's numerous energy blasts or have been instantly reduced to a skeleton by the giant, flesh dissolving explosive device the Conqueror dropped.

Profile by Norvo.

CLARIFICATIONS:
Duane Freeman should not be confused with:

  • Derek Freeman, Duane's brother and fellow government agent who briefly romanced Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau) @ Avengers I#263

images: (without ads)
Avengers III#27, p2, pan1 (main image)
Avengers III#5, p7, pan5 (vid call)
Avengers III#27, p7, pan8 (with Thor)


Appearances:
Avengers III#4 (May, 1998) - Kurt Busiek (writer), George Pérez (pencils), Al Vey, Bob Wiacek (inks), Tom Brevoort(editor)
Avengers III#5 (June, 1998) - Kurt Busiek (writer), George Pérez (pencils), Al Vey(inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Avengers III#14 (March, 1999) - Kurt Busiek (writer), George Pérez (pencils), Al Vey(inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Iron Man III#15 (April, 1999) - Kurt Busiek (writer), Sean Chen (pencils), Eric Cannon (inks), Bobbie Chase (editor)
X-51#4 (November, 1999) - Mike Higgins, Karl Bollers (writers), Joe Bennett (pencils), Bob Wiacek (inks), Ralph Macchio (editor)
X-51#5 (November, 1999) - Mike Higgins, Karl Bollers (writers), Joe Bennett (pencils), Bob Wiacek (inks), Ralph Macchio (editor)
Avengers III#24 (January, 2000) - Kurt Busiek (writer), George Pérez (pencils), Al Vey, Dick Giordano (inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Avengers III#25 (February, 2000) - Kurt Busiek (writer), George Pérez (pencils), Al Vey (inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Avengers III#27 (April, 2000) - Kurt Busiek (writer), George Pérez (pencils), Al Vey (inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Avengers III#31 (August, 2000) - Kurt Busiek (writer), George Pérez (pencils), Al Vey (inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Thunderbolts I#44 (November, 2000) - Fabian Nicieza (writer), Mark Bagley (pencils), Greg Adams (inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Maximum Security#1 (November, 2000) - Jerry Ordway, Kurt Busiek (writers), Jerry Ordway (pencils), Al Vey, Chris Ivy, Paul Ryan Will Blyberg (inks), Tom Brevoort, Marc Sumerak (editors)
Avengers III#35 (December, 2000) - Kurt Busiek (writer), John Romita Jr. (pencils), Chris Ivy (inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Avengers III#38 (March, 2001) - Kurt Busiek (writer), Alan Davis (pencils), Mark Farmer (inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Avengers Annual 2001/2 (September, 2001) - Kurt Busiek (writer), Ivan Reis (pencils), Scott Hanna (inks), Tom Brevoort, Marc Sumerak (editors)
Avengers III#44 (September, 2001) - Kurt Busiek (writer), Manuel Garcia (pencils), Bob Layton (inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Avengers III#55 (September, 2001) - Kurt Busiek (writer), Patrick Zircher (pencils), Scott Koblish (inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)


Last updated: 11/13/13

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