The Phantom Annual #1
“Five Days Of The Dragon”
LETTERER: Ruben Procopio
This comic features five tales of five different iterations of the Phantom, surrounding the search for five pieces of a statue, which we’ll get into in the review. Marz had contacted Bullock about setting this up because he wanted to try his hand at The Phantom. Outside of the above listed and usual consultant Ed Rhoades (whose Behind The Mask features goes in the Phantom’s many nicknames), the teams were different, although two share a colorist. The result is a pretty cool idea.
WRITER: Ron Marz; ARTIST: Ruben Procopio; COLORIST: Val Staples
The 3rd Phantom is the one who first learns of the Jade Dragon, a statue said to contain such great power that the Emperor split it into five parts, so my reference to Dragon Ball wasn’t too far off the mark. In time since the five pieces have scattered all over the globe and are now being hunted by the Phantom’s greatest threat, the Singh Brotherhood. 3rd and Katar Singh go after the first piece, but the Phantom comes out on top. The art is a bit uneven. Some panels are pretty good but others are a bit rubbery, like they were rushed. Overall a good story.
WRITER: Tony Bedard; ARTIST: Allan Goldman; COLORIST: Patrick J. Williams
Arune Singh is working with corrupt members of the British Navy, masquerading as a surgeon. The 11th Phantom’s agent found another piece of the Dragon, but Singh and his associate, Captain Corcoran, have taken him aboard a prison ship for American Revolutionaries. (I don’t know if this existed or if they turned Wallabout Bay in what would be Brooklyn, New York, had been turned into burial waters (and frankly I’m not sure I want to)) The Phantom is able to claim the piece, although the agent dies, having swallowed the piece to protect it. This is probably the most depressing of the stories, between the agent’s death and the Phantom’s wife at the time leaving him for being more into the Phantom mission than his own family, missing the needed balance. I liked it though.
WRITER: Chuck Dixon; ARTIST: Grahan Nolan; COLORIST: Patrick J. Williams
The 16th Phantom follows Ghutar Singh to the Old West, or possibly Mexico or California of the period. At any rate the next piece is in a religious Mission and the Phantom has better information. While Ghutar made the mistake of striking an Apache child studying at the Mission and now his father, the war chief, is coming to visit his son. The Phantom doesn’t kill…but apparently he doesn’t mind leaving you behind to be killed. That makes me kind of neutral to this story, or would if Ghutar hadn’t claimed he could buy off the Federales to get free.
WRITER: Rafael Nieves; ARTISTS: Tony Akins & Ken Wolak; COLORIST: Val Staples
The 19th has my favorite of the stories presented. No first name is given for this Singh, who has come to a Nepal monastery for the next piece, but the Phantom tags along. It’s the Phantom’s brains and humility that allows him to find the piece when the Singh’s threats couldn’t. Also, did the prophecy of this event occurring have anything to do with the Phantom having a ride back down the mountain? It’s a great little story.
WRITER: Mike Bullock; ARTIST/COLORIST: Juan Ferreyra
It’s right for the regular writer to get the finale to this tale with the current 21st Phantom. A woman contacts him because she has found the final piece…but it’s a trick by Temur Singh to get the other four pieces, which was her request to give him the last piece. He restores the Dragon, but while it does glow no dragon is summoned, since that was supposed to be the power it contained. Perhaps it’s his not being of “pure blood”, whatever that means. Maybe it doesn’t listen to evil people? Chinese dragons were traditionally good dragons. Now the Phantom has all five pieces, and the element of surprise since Temur thinks the Phantom is dead. A good end to the storyline.
This story was a good idea, but it’s the execution that makes it work. This is a good story for Phantom fans to seek out.