The Phantom #4
DC Comics (August, 1988)
“The Phantom Strikes Back!”
WRITER: Peter David
PENCILER: Joe Orlando
INKER: Dennis Janke
COLORIST: Anthony Tollin
LETTERER: Tod Klein
EDITORS: Mike Gold & Robert Breenberger
The 13th Phantom has taken out one of the Chessman brothers and retrieved the Good Mark ring. Now the other two are left. He tricks the one who stole his Skull Ring right into a trap and takes him out, and then his ship, leaving the lead brother left. His men send him adrift to save their own rears, and the Phantom follows him with his own ship, forcing him to the home of the Phantoms past, where the Phantom takes out the last brother, but at the cost of his own life, living just long enough to tell his son the story to complete the Phantom Chronicle Rex is now reading just before assuming the mantle of the 14th Phantom.
In the present, the 21st is shutting down the current Chessman’s operations. Diana overhears him telling this to the hitman he hired to eliminate the Phantom and becomes bait. Only through skill and luck does the Phantom rescue Diana and defeat Charles Chessman, who unlike his ancestors will live to stand trial for his crimes.
What they got right: It’s a great finish to both Phantom stories. There’s a lot of action and a happy reunion between Kit and Diana. There are some humorous moments, but none take away from the action and drama.
What they got wrong: The DC comics are not canon to the source material, the newspaper strips. So exciting as that must be, telling a “last Phantom Chronicle” means it may be countered by whatever the comic creators end up doing. A quick bit of research told me that a Scandinavian tale came up with a completely different end for the 13th and rise of the 14th, although that isn’t canon either.
Recommendation: A good Phantom miniseries. I’ll be looking through a few issues of the ongoing I picked up starting next week (I don’t remember how many issues) and I really want to get the first issue of the miniseries, but I do recommend picking these up.