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Friday, 28 April 2017

Phantom Stranger 5 - Tala returns

Another Adams cover, but Phantom Stranger 5 (Jan/Feb 70) is by Kanigher, Mike Sekowsky and Anderson.

The art doesn't look nearly as good as the previous issue, which is a definite let down. The kids are back, and that's not a terrible thing this time. They are on a beach when they see a dead man wash up on shore, and then come to life. Dr. Thirteen is around, insisting everything is rational. The Phantom Stranger hovers around, and we see that Tala is manipulating the situation.

Focussing on the kids instead of Dr. Thirteen helps keep this a Phantom Stranger tale, with Terry and Marie in subordinate roles. Tala is behind the scenes for much of the tale, and that works. Central to it is the dead man, who romances women and then leaves them.

The story does take a while to reach it's target, and the bit with a rejected lover driving off a bridge feels just put in to give the Phantom Stranger something to do.

The not-dead man starts romancing Wild Rose, the girl out of the kids, and invites all of them, as well as the Thirteens, to a big bash at his beachfront house. A hurricane is approaching, so all the other guests take off. Dr. Thirteen shows himself an absolute idiot by deciding to stay in the big windowed beach house and experience the hurricane for himself. The not-dead man explains to Wild Rose that he is dead, but that his ghost was resurrected by Tala, and will not be able to rest until a woman cries for him. Since he was a big womanizer, that makes it appropriate punishment, and of course every woman he tells the story to laughs at him.

But Wild Rose cries, and that frees him. Tala shows up, all pissed off, and joins her magic with the hurricane to destroy everyone. Phantom Stranger battles her, protecting the kids and the Thirteens, though only the kids appreciate this.

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