The Phantom #17
“Invisible Children” part 1
WRITER: Mike Bullock
ARTIST: Silvestre Szilagyi
COLORIST: Bob Pedroza
SELECTED COVER ART: Marat Mychaels, Adelso Corona, & Adam Street
LETTERER: Troy Peteri
EDITOR: Joe Gentile
The Phantom begins his war on Him, slowly dismantling his various kidnapping groups. Then the Phantom heads to Him’s lair, and sees a man with a look similar to another threat the Phantom has faced in the past. Unfortunately he’s spotted and the soldiers started shooting at him, snapping his climbing rope and sending the Phantom plummeting to Earth.
I have nothing but praise for this issue. It’s one everyone should agree is worth writing a story about in this time when propaganda seems to be replacing storytelling in some comics. As I mentioned last week, the act of kidnapping village kids in Africa to brainwash into Him’s army was based on something going on in Uganda at the time (and possibly still going on), what the documentary later promoted in the book referred to as the “invisible children”. And what was happening was worse than what Bullock could write in this comic. This storyline is all about showcasing the horrors created by the so-called “Lord’s Resistance Army” (or LRA), a cult based on false and corrupted Christian teachings. I did a quick skim of a Wikipedia article on the group and they’re horrible people, as were the government they were trying to take over. And the civilians, even the kids, suffered the most.
Additionally the art is really good and the story itself also good. The Phantom uses tactics to unnerve Him’s soldiers before moving in and rescuing the children. Even if this wasn’t based on actual events this would have been a good story on it’s own. A portion of the proceeds from the “B” cover went to the Invisible Children group working to alert the world about these horrid atrocities. The organization was founded originally to stop the group, which was forced out of Uganda but still operates elsewhere in Africa. (Full disclosure: they’ve taken flak for siding with the also violent Ugandan army but “better the devil you know” I guess. As their spokesperson noted, they have to work with somebody and I guess they felt the LRA is a worse threat. BW Media Spotlight always recommends looking into a charity group before supporting it, even if it’s one I end up promoting.) In the “Behind The Mask” feature Ed Rhodes went over other time the comic strip highlighted actual villains though analogs like Him, so this is in keeping with Phantom history.
Even though it’s been years and nobody’s making any more money on this except for the seller this storyline is worth tracking down, with the reminder that this was actually going on at the time if not today. Buy it if you see it and consider supporting charities working to rescue children from these monsters.