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Friday, 28 April 2017

Phantom Stranger 3 - the haunted carnival

Phantom Stranger 3 (Sept/Oct 69) is the last of the issues to blend new and reprinted material together to form a story. I don't care much for that technique in this book, but the Neal Adams cover is so good I can endure it.

The Friedrich and Draut story deals with a supposedly haunted fairground, one where there have been a series of murders. Some kids break into it one night, and run into the Phantom Stranger. One of the boys is the son of the owner of the fair, and the Phantom Stranger relates a reprint that is nicely integrated for once. He had dealt with some "supernatural" events at the fair years earlier, and exposed a phony fortune teller, Vasti, as being behind them. Now, the ghost of Vasti is apparently haunting the place, and causing the deaths.

The father has called in Dr. Thirteen to investigate. Terry relates his adventure exposing the Phantom of Paris, another reprint, which has nothing at all to do with the main plot.

Then the characters get down to business in the original pages. Dr. Thirteen is once again pissed off that the Stranger is involved. In one scene, he comes to the aid of the Phantom Stranger, though, preventing him from falling into a pit of spikes. This sequence reads so oddly now. It really doesn't seem like there is any magical to the Phantom Stranger, if he is so vulnerable to such a simple trap.

The Stranger is the one to catch and unmask the real killer, who of course is not Vasti's ghost. The guy falls to his death, the Phantom Stranger disappears, and Thirteen is left cursing him.

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