Longtime readers are no stranger to my enjoyment of The Phantom, Lee Falk’s classic newspaper strip character. While not one of the biggest fans I do enjoy the franchise very much, and the newspaper strip used to be a must-read for me every day. The Ghost Who Walks has made his way to other media formats: a serial in the 1940s, as a member of the Defenders Of The Earth alongside other Kings Features Syndicate heroes, a live-action movie starring Billy Zane, and a Sci-Fi TV movie I’d…really rather not talk about again. And then there’s tonight’s showcase, Phantom: 2040!
Taking place in the future city of Metropia the 23rd Phantom has disappeared in the wake of a toxic spill in battle with his latest foe, Max Madison and his crazed “Maximum Era”. Madison’s widow has taken up the cause, and clearly has some issues. Heloise Walker had hoped to spare her nephew the same fate as her brother. (Yes, I know something’s wrong with the numbering. If this is the Kit and Heloise from the comic strip he should be the 22nd Phantom.) Unfortunately for her, events will play out to cause young Kit the 24th to assume his family’s legacy. Originally airing in syndication meant it could take a few more chances and didn’t have to be a show for young kids, as despite the kid-friendly editing this was clearly meant for older audiences, like the Fox Kids’ version of Batman.
Tonight I only bring you two episodes, though the full “origin” story takes up the first five to introduce all of the Phantom’s allies. Still, the two part “Generation Unto Generation” does set up the dynamic for this series and explain why the African jungle of Bangala was replaced by the urban jungle of Metropia. Enjoy!
If you’ve been following the Chapter By Chapter book review I’m currently involved in you may have noticed the writers’ names. Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens didn’t just do Star Trek work, like Prime Directive, the novel I’m reviewing right now, but also took on works like this. How this came out so good and their take on Flash Gordon came out so bad requires backstage info I’m not currently aware of because that was garbage while this show is a worthy addition to the franchise.
It won’t be until later that Kit finally accepts his role as the Phantom, seeking to learn what happened to his father, and continue the legacy of the Ghost Who Walks. The series is slowly being added to the Comics Kingdom YouTube channel, King Features’ channel for shows based on their works. Give it a watch and you may well enjoy it.