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Friday, 28 April 2017

Phantom Stranger 1 - Phantom Stranger begins

A couple of months after his Showcase tryout the Phantom Stranger moves into his own book with the May/June 1969 issue. Like the Showcase outing, this one is mostly reprints, although they are not integrated into a larger story. Instead, there is reprint from the Phantom Stranger's first series, from the early 50s, and then a reprint of a Dr. Thirteen story, from his run in Star Spangled Comics.

Only after those two stories does the cover tale begin, which brings together the Phantom Stranger and Dr. Thirteen once again, thanks to Mike Friedrich and Bill Draut.

This feels a lot more like a Dr. Thirteen story than a Phantom Stranger one, simply because we follow Terry through most of it, while the Phantom Stranger only pops up occasionally. The character still looks much as Draut was drawing him in the 50s, with his face clearly shown in many panels.

Terry and Marie Thirteen go to visit a friend in Chinatown, and are there when the shadow of a dragon appears on a building just before it explodes. Terry spends the story trying to figure out who is behind the arson, while the Phantom Stranger really doesn't do very much at all, until he shows up to grab the arsonist Terry has spotted. It proves to be an older man who hated the new buildings going up in the area. The story isn't very long, obviously, but that means it doesn't even try to play out whether the man achieved his fires through natural or supernatural means, and just leaves both Thirteen and the Stranger to argue over it.

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