The Phantom Limited Edition Subscribers Issue
Wolf Publishing (1993)
WRITER: Lee Falk
ARTISTS: Sy Barry & Ray Moore, plus uncredited creators of the second story
COVER ART: Dean Ormston
ART DEPARTMENT: Mike Higgs
EDITORS: Phil Clarke & Sue Williams
From what I can tell based on the “From Inside The Skull Cave” part on the back, this comic was created by I think members of The Phantom Society, a fan club most likely, who paid themselves to have as many Phantom comics produced as they could before Wolf lost the license, as they were more interested in SuperTed, Thomas The Tank Engine, and something called The Trolls. (Apparently it was big in the UK, where this comic comes from. Unless the writer was being sarcastic calling it a “money-maker”. Wikipedia just brought up one of those multi-band mashup groups, like the Gorillaz or the Traveling Wilburys.) This was an attempt to ensure the subscribers got their money’s worth. The comic features two reprints from the comic strips, while the middle story may be a reprint from another comic book or an original story. There are no credits.
The first reprint story focuses on the “Good Mark” a symbol the Phantom gives to those who have aided him in the past, showing they and their descendants, are friends of the Phantom. Sometimes this is a mark on the arm, but in this case it was on a ring (curiously drawn like the Phantom’s own ring). It belongs to a couple, the great-grandfather of one of them being a friend of the 18th Phantom. However, thieves steal their jewelry while they’re out, including a ring bearing the good mark. Betrayed by the other thief, one of the men finds that the ring holds a power of the locals, unaware of the Phantom legend. But when he pushes too far to get their wealth, the Phantom is called from his vacation on the Isle Of Eden (long story) to set things right. It’s an interesting story, seeing what would happen if the symbol of the Phantom’s friendship fell into the wrong hands.
The second tale focuses on Julie Walker, whom readers may recall is the sister of the 17th Phantom who would on occasion stand in for her brother. And somehow she fooled them despite not being flat-chested. (Seriously, with her figure and considering the times and the kinds of men she came across how did they not notice?) One such time involves a brute named Big Boscolo, who decided to take over the jungle. With the real Phantom gone and Boscolo too much of a brute for her to fight, Julie instead uses her wits and the Phantom legend to scare him away. Someone screwed up the order of the word balloons on the last page, but otherwise a good story.
The final is a “classic” tale from the comic strips and the only one with a title, The Saboteurs. While on a train with his wolf, Devil, the Phantom overhears a plot to sabotage a train, which he learns is carrying weapons for the military. He then set out to foil their plans although the authorities find it oddly hard to trust a man in a purple outfit and eye mask. I can’t imagine why. I think some of the strips are out-of-order because the story reads a bit oddly at one point. However, it is a good story.
How a UK Phantom comic ended up in a back issue box in Connecticut, USA I couldn’t tell you, but I’m glad this one did. All three are good stories and worth checking out if somehow you can. As to the fate of the remaining issues in the subscription I couldn’t tell you that either or anything about the publisher. Next week we start looking at the two miniseries from Marvel Comics, the second of which is an adaptation/tie-in of the Phantom 2040 cartoon. Are they any good? We’ll find out.