The Phantom #12
“Tiger’s Blood” part 1
WRITER: Mike Bullock
ARTIST: Gabriel Rearte
COLORIST: Thompson Knox
SELECTED COVER ART: Joe Prado & Rod Reis
LETTERER: Troy Peteri
EDITOR: Joe Gentile
In a small river town sits a man in a bar listening to a news story about tiger poachers harvesting female hormones to create an aphrodisiac called Cupid, which can have long-term effects on women. This is interwoven with a trio of those very poachers joking and preparing for their last hunt of the night. Unfortunately for them the Phantom has come upon their more recent prey, sending Devil to escort her young to safety while he deals with them. The first is introduced to the skull mark, a second faces the jungle law of other tigers, and the third runs off, but is eventually caught, tied up, and left for the Jungle Patrol with their boat burning and the tigers they would hunt now holding them for the authorities. The man was one of those poachers…I think…and now he plans to hunt down the Phantom!
What they got right: This is Mike Bullock’s debut on the title and people who were here when I reviewed the later books (this site started in 2008, when I was still able to buy new comics) know I usually enjoy his stories. Aided by the art, there’s a sense of atmosphere between the two events, as the Phantom hunts and the man sits there carving the skull into a table. This is also when the book’s consultant, Ed Rhoades, began his “Behind The Mask” article, delving into the behind-the-scenes history of his friend and creator of The Phantom and Mandrake The Magician, Lee Falk. They’re very informative pieces and both Bullock and Rhodes would stay on for the rest of Moonstone’s license on The Phantom.
What they got wrong: I don’t know if it’s the artist or the letterer, or maybe it was me, but I had trouble keeping up with which character was which. Which one has the girlfriend? Which one is Carlos? Either the artist or the colorist couldn’t seem to keep that straight. And while tiger poaching does happen, I don’t know if this aphrodisiac made from female tiger reproductive hormones is actually real or not. I know their pelts are sought after, so why not just go with that? Not cruel enough, given how the hormones are to be extracted according to the news report at the dive bar?
Recommendation: A good start for one of the best runs on the series. I do recommend checking this one out.