The Phantom #19
“Invisible Children” part 3
WRITER: Mike Bullock
ARTIST: Silvestre Szilagyi
COLORIST: Bob Pedroza
SELECTED COVER ART: Marat Mychaels, Adelso Corona, & Adam Street
LETTERER: Troy Peteri
EDITOR: Joe Gentile
Aided by the Poison Pygmies, the Phantom manages to subdue Him’s soldiers while also showcasing how the jungle obeys him, frightening one soldier who still believes in Him. This messenger Him doesn’t kill (guess it depends on how you tell him things) and he goes to his room to contemplate…or rather to build himself up as most of his men start to doubt Him. Then the Phantom makes his final play, defeating Him, who turns out to be a man named Joseph. Joseph ends up in a sanitarium, and all the children are returned home. Meanwhile, Him/Joseph’s benefactors find another man in skull face paint to hunt the Phantom…but what else is new for the Singh Brotherhood!
Ed Rhodes “Behind The Mask” feature focuses on the visual and story evolution of the comic strip.
What they got right: I loved watching the whole charade fall apart around Him, a bit of catharsis for what was actually happening in Africa in the real world. (Remember the “invisible children” problem was still going on and might still be today.) Meanwhile the Phantom gets some really cool moments. The art is really good here, especially the scene where a lightning storm highlights Phantom’s final defeat of Him. He also cleverly hides Joseph’s last name, I guess because he wasn’t given one.
What they got wrong: Tying Him to the Singh Brotherhood I think hurts the story somewhat. Okay, that’s where he got his palace and any of the soldiers who weren’t his worshipers but I think if he somehow had, and was just using what he thought was merely a legend about a jungle spirit to inspire his “Him” operation it would have been fine. Unless foreign criminal organizations were actually behind the warlords that inspired the character Bullock created for this story they should have been left out of it. I think it diminishes Him as a threat because now you suspect he was only successful because of the Singh.
Recommendation: This storyline was really good and comes highly recommended.