The Phantom: Ghost Who Walks #9
Moonstone (2010)WRITER/GROUP EDITOR: Mike Bullock ARTIST: Silvestre Syzilagyi COLORIST: Bob Pedroza LETTERER: Josh Aitken COVER “A/C”: Sedat Ozgen with Mark Powers COVER “B” (shown): Eugenio Mattozzi
After getting past an assassination attempt, Kit works to track down his children’s kidnappers. With Chane’s help, the Phantom ends up at the abandoned castle of “Him”, but it turns out to be not all that abandoned.
What they got right: They’re going a good job setting up the mystery, although long time readers know at least in part who is behind the current events. The art is beautiful, especially the two-page scene in Chane’s “lair”. The panel layouts are rather inventive in a number of scenes.
What they got wrong: I actually don’t have any complaints with this story or the art.
Recommendation: A prime example of this series at it’s best. This would be a good arc to introduce yourself to this comic.
Sadly, the best nominee for “Best Scene” is about three pages long, and you really can’t get the proper sense of the Phantom being stalked by the bad guys through the castle any other way.
Tomorrow’s Comic> Political Power: Rush Limbaugh
I feel need to address something in Ed Rhoades’ “Behind the Mask”, the usual “behind the scenes” article in the back of each issue. In it, Rhoades addresses an issue I’ve had with both the comic book and the newspaper strip, one where the Legacy is hitting a snag. Apparently, Lee Falk (to quote the article) “never intended to break up his popular ensemble which includes the Phantom with Devil, Hero, Diana, Guran, the twins et al”. He mentions comics like “For Better or For Worse” and “Gasoline Alley”, which aged along with the world. Apparently, The Phantom is supposed to stay the way it is forever.
This saddens me that this was Falk’s intention from the start. After all, the Phantom is the ultimate legacy character. 20+ generations, each existing in their own time period, with any story visiting a past Phantom becoming a period piece. But now, when the current Phantom should be the GRANDson of the Phantom we all know, the sliding timeline must come into play to hold Kit’s current position as the 21st Phantom. This plays games with the continuity as it is.
From the article:
Changing anything that is considered Lee Falk canon isn’t something to be taken lightly and would surely be met with protests from fans in online forum discussions. Despite the anachronisms, The Phantom has evolved in a gradual way and continues to be popular on a global level since 1936.
Notwithstanding the wedding of the Phantom in 1977, the Phantom has been very conservative and perhaps his resistance to change has been part of his enduring charm. He is low tech. In other situations, a man with untold wealth might find a sat phone or a blackberry useful in fighting crime, but it just isn’t what longtime readers of the popular Phantom comic strip have come to expect.
And yet, each story is set in modern day, not some timeless world, so like Marvel and DC the older stories get messed up. Besides, while the current Kit may be resistant to change, previous Phantoms have been willing to adapt to the tools of their era, while this one seems stuck in a time before he should have been born. There’s resistance to change and then there’s just being ridiculous.
My final issue with this game plan continuing so many years later is one of vulnerability. If Father Time can’t affect the current Kit Walker (for the Ghost Who Walks), what’s to make the readers think any of the current death traps he faces will ever be successful? Deep down we are supposed to know the hero won’t be killed, but it’s that little bit of not being sure that draws us in and makes us gasp when a bullet connects or a character is dangling from the cliff.
Right now in the strips, an enemy of the Phantom has found a way to convince the Phantom that Diana has been killed. In fact, she’s trapped in a prison (with a guard or warden until the terrorist’s thumb) stuck under a false identity. We’ve even seen a woman come on to Kit knowing that his wife was dead (recently enough that she’s a real b—h). But since there is a permanent status quo, we’re mostly just waiting to see when they get back together. Nobody is going to die, and considering they’ve pulled the “false Diana death” about two or three times during the Moonstone run, it becomes old hat.
In story, a Phantom is supposed to have a short lifespan, as someday the bad guys can get him. While the Walker line is supposed to maintain the aura that there is only one, they are in fact very mortal, and anything from old age to a lucky shot has ended the careers of Phantoms before they ever became grandfathers. That’s the essence of the Phantom’s story as we are presented it. But if Falk never intended it to be the core of the series, and meant these characters to remain virtually the same forever, then why bother with the legacy? While I still love the series and will continue reading for as long as it is made available to me, this bit of info actually takes some of the excitement out for me. It’s disappointing that what I consider the ultimate Legacy Character is just another victim of the sliding timeline.