The Phantom #2
DC Comics (June, 1988)
“Across The Great Divide”
WRITER: Peter David
PENCILER: Joe Orlando
INKER: Dennis Janke
COLORIST: Anthony Tollin
LETTERER: Todd Klein
EDITORS: Mike Gold & Robert Breenberger
Rex reads on the adventures the 13th Phantom in the Phantom Chronicles. Unmasked by the Chessman pirate brothers, “one who looks on the unmasked face of the Phantom (wife and kids aside) will die!” (Old jungle saying.) The three brothers also take their trophies, one taking the Phantom’s mask, one the Skull Ring, and the third the Good Mark. Then they sell the Phantom to slavers, but their boat is attacked and the chained Phantom may yet drown!
Mixed in with that story is the current events of the current Phantom, 21st in the line. He pursued the murderer of one of his Jungle Patrol operatives, and also sought the name of his employer, a drug trafficker and modern-day pirate. The Phantom defeats him, but one of his agents shoots the man and himself to protect their employer, giving the Phantom one name: Chessman. Colonel Weeks’ contacts point the potential finger at one Charles Chessman, who is also a friend of Diana’s family. When the Phantom arrives, Chessman has the police waiting for him.
What they got right: The Phantom Chronicles are one of my defenses for aging the series and allowing new Phantoms to reinvigorate the legend for a new generation. However, apparently that wasn’t what Falk wanted (although other comic books and TV shows have attempted it, like Marvel’s Phantom comic and Phantom: 2040) and so that ball is long since dropped. I do like getting to see the previous Phantoms in action, although the sliding timeline messes up what Phantom should be where in history. As for this story, the 13th and 21st’s adventures mingle well and there are some fun moments as well as good action.
What they got wrong: I don’t have any complaints.
Recommendation: A good chapter to the story. I’m missing issue #1 but I think I have the rest of the miniseries (or at least another one) and it seems good so far. Give this one a read.