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Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Phantom Stranger 28 - the Phantom Stranger testifies, and the Spawn of Frankenstein is a klutz

Phantom Stranger 28 (Dec/Jan 73/74) is another issue in which the Cardy cover is the best thing about it.

Drake and Talaoc start off the issue with a Phantom Stranger story that has a promising beginning. A man boards an airplane full of normal looking people. He then sees them turn into monsters, and goes berserk, pulling out a gun. The Phantom Stranger materializes, and tries to calm the man down, but he sees the Phantom Stranger turn into a monster as well.

The Phantom Stranger takes the guy down, and then the story becomes about his trial. Readers wrote in with a lot of negative comments on this story, and one of the problems they had was the way the Stranger shows up to testify in court, and is called the Phantom Stranger by the public, as if he were a well known super hero.

We hear a lot about the man's life, and how, from childhood, he would periodically believe he was being possessed by Joseph Ganz, and in that state commit horrible crimes. Somehow, this didn't seem to result in any major trials until this time.

To determine if the man really is insane, the Phantom Stranger conjures Ganz in front of him. This makes the guy confess that he had been fabricating this possession all along. But the jury now still wonders if making up such an elaborate lie means that he is insane.

The Phantom Stranger story is weak, but the Spawn of Frankenstein story has some painfully bad stuff. Skeates and Baily make me laugh when they really don't intend to. The Spawn of Frankenstein starts off the story by rescuing the girl from the devil worshippers, who are trying to burn her alive.

It's not a very skillful rescue. He bangs the woman's head against a tree and kills her. Oops. That would probably have made me laugh on its own, but the drawing of her facial expression when dead still makes me howl.

So then the Spawn of Frankenstein carries the corpse into a town, where of course everyone thinks he killed her intentionally. The devil worshippers happen to arrive at the same town, and join the people in attacking the monster.

The story continues in the next issue.

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