The Phantom: The Ghost Who Walks Book 1
Marvel Comics (February, 1995)
“Called To Account”
WRITER/COLORIST: Dave DeVries
ARTIST: Glenn Lunsden
LETTERER: John Costanza
EDITOR: Tom Daning
EDITOR IN CHIEF: Carl Potts
A group called Kataba Mining has been pressuring President Luaga to not block mining in the hill country, but he pledged to the hill tribes of Bangala that they wouldn’t mine there. However, a woman and her team of wolves claims to be on his side. The current owner of the company behind Kataba Mining, Norton Hampton of Hampton Industries, is willing to use dirty tricks to keep the dummy corporation active, but in his way is the Walker side of the family, especially one Christopher Walker who is against the mining and thinks the company is a liability. That night the room of Hampton’s new negotiator, Katherine Hawkins, is invaded by a man in purple who breaks in seeking a contract forcibly obtained from another member of the Walker family that would turn controlling stocks over to Hampton. While Hampton’s muscle, Mars, goes after him and seemingly kills the man, he gets away with the contract and Christopher’s cousin is safely away, forcing Kataba Mining to become a non-entity. However, an exiled general is working with Hampton and he’s returned to Kataba region to conquer it.
Whether or not you like this comic really depends on (a)how tied you are to the original comic strips and the previous and later comics, and (b)if you like Marvel’s take. We have a Phantom who uses high-tech like infra-red and an extending mini-shield on his arm, and drives a car. It’s not quite Batman but there is some influence. And if this is supposed to be the 21st Phantom (the one from the comic strips) the lack of Diana Palmer is going to really annoy longtime fans. Also, Kit is now a nickname rather than just his name, but at least the homage is there. He also owns a company called Walker Industries which I don’t think is from the comics but I could be wrong. Still there are a lot of changes that I’m sure alienated someone.
Otherwise, while clearly Marvel’s own concept of the Phantom, the outfit is in keeping with the traditional Phantom garb (unlike Mr. Berry Juice from Dynamite’s opening run that I’m hoping they fixed, or the Assassins Creed hoodie-inspired failure from that SyFy movie I never bothered watching), and not identifying the hero as the Phantom is fine for long-time fans who know who he is, or new people to the character since the only one who seems to know who the Phantom is tries to brush off the account of seeing him by Katherine and Mars. Besides, he’s on the cover; you should be able to guess he’s called the Phantom.
This first issue sets up a good storyline and the art is rather good, especially coming from 90s Marvel, where the art is usually overexaggerated and ugly. Here’s it’s quite good. The comic is worth a look, but this is clearly Marvel rebooting the series rather than tying in to the comic strips as in previous comics I’ve reviewed and the Moonstone books that came after.