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Monday, 1 May 2017

Phantom Stranger 21 - resurrected by the Dark Circle, and Dr. Thirteen vs Medusa

Wein and Aparo begin the Dark Circle storyline in Phantom Stranger 21 (Sept/Oct 72), which will run through the next few issues.

The story opens with the execution pictured on the cover. The body gets stolen, and brought to the secret cave hideout of the Dark Circle. A ritual is performed, which brings the dead man, Johnny Glory, back to life. 

Johnny is given the assignment to help in the assassination of a world leader. The characters are clearly meant to be based on the Gandhi family of India, though only loosely. Johnny is so happy to be alive again that he willingly goes along with this.

The Phantom Stranger's role in this one is pretty small, advising and prognosticating disaster, only stepping at key moments. Johnny refuses to listen to anything the Stranger says, and kidnaps the woman, in order to lure her father to his death.

The Phantom Stranger shows up to help keep the man alive, and shows Johnny was he really looks like, not the artificial form the Dark Circle has allowed him to see. This pisses Johnny off so much he turns on the Dark Circle and kills the man who brought him to life.

The Dark Circle story continues in the next issue.

Wein joins DeZuniga for the Dr. Thirteen story in this issue, which is my favourite of his tales. Mostly, that is because of the art, but I also enjoy the Medusa lady, who turns people into stone.

Dr. Thirteen and his wife Marie are in Greece when they see Medusa turn a man to stone right in front of them. Investigating, he learns that the murders began just after relics from a local dig started being sold. Thirteen and Marie go to visit the dig, and meet the foreman and his wife, as well as an old lady who screams at them for defiling the old gods.

But the old lady is just a diversion. It's the foreman's wife who is dressing up as Medusa, and killing people by spraying them with potassium silicate. Thirteen doesn't bother to come up with a motive behind this, which is unfortunate. Faked relics would have been my guess at what the foreman and his wife were covering up.

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