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Monday, 1 May 2017

Phantom Stranger 20 - the high lama, and Dr. Thirteen hosts a story

Phantom Stranger 20 (July/Aug 72) sees Robert Kanigher join Wein and Aparo for a story derived from the way the Dalai Lama is selected, although the story is meant to deal with a fictional high lama.

The story opens as a young beggar boy comes to play music for the high lama. The man dies horrifically while the boy is playing, and the boy is accused of having caused the death, and thrown from a cliff. The Phantom Stranger swoops in to rescue him.

The high priest performs a spell that reveals the image of the new high lama, with a distinctive birthmark on the baby's forehead, and then leads a search for the infant. Turns out the baby is the younger brother of the beggar boy. Neither he nor his mother want the high priest to take the child. The Phantom Stranger tries to intervene, but the high priest causes a lake monster to grab the Stranger. The beggar boy then saves the Phantom Stranger's life.

The high priest turns out to also have been the one manipulating everything. He caused the death of the high lama, and made the image look like the baby, so that he could control the infant. He winds up falling to his own death from a cliff after the Phantom Stranger exposes his actions. The people decide to make the infant the new high lama anyway, because of the vision, and have the beggar boy act as his regent.

A later issue will reveal the evil priest, Kamset, was a member of the Dark Circle.

Mark Hanerfeld joins DeZuniga for the Dr. Thirteen story in this issue, which is only hosted by the character, he does not participate. The story deals with a magician who has the ability to levitate objects, who gets kidnapped by his assistant and tortured for the secret. Once he has revealed it, the assistant kills him.

But the assistant never realized how hard it was to control the power. He tries to raise an armoured car in order to rob it, but just winds up killing himself.

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