Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Nerdversity Reviews: The Phantom (80th anniversary Special)

The Ghost Who Walks celebrates his 80th anniversary today. Created in 1936, The Phantom was the creation of Lee Falk, who had previously had success with Mandrake the Magician. King Features Syndicate asked Falk to come up with a new hero for their newspaper strips. Inspired by characters like Tarzan and Zorro, Falk created a new character, an almost mythic, unkillable hero,

The Phantom's trademark look was inspired by Robin Hood who wore skintight costumes on stage and the eyeless mask look came from Greek busts, which Falk had erroneously attributed to them never having eyes, when instead they did and the paint just faded over time. 

On February 17th 1936, the world was introduced to The Ghost who Walks in his debut story "The Singh Brotherhood". The Phantom enjoyed massive success over the world in the war years and well after it too, especially in other countries, where they have created their own Phantom universes, continuing the story where the other ones stopped. In many countries, it's still ongoing in papers across the globe.

In 1988, DC comics launched their own Phantom comics. The series lasted 13 issues until 1990. However, rather than being set in the war era, it was set in the modern day era, with the Phantom battling modern piracy, environmental issues, racism, slavery, human trafficking and hunger. The series failed and in the last issue, The Phantom married Diana. 

In 2002, Moonstone took over the Phantom license and kept it set in the war era, but added modern issues. It ran until 2007. They had darker, grittier storylines that were based around the African conflicts, with a 1930s villain that pastiches Kony. They even had terrorists, organ harvesters and smugglers in these stories as well.

In 2009, Dynamite Entertainment released The Last Phantom, which sees Kit Walker give up the mantle and settle down with Diana and son. He uses his charity Walkabout, but his old friend Peter Quisling orchestrates the murder of his wife and son. It falls on Kit to take up the Mantle of the Phantom once again and restore justice. It flashes back to 1536, with the first Phantom.

In 2014, Hermes Press announced they'd picked up The Phantom license. As well as reprinting the classic newspaper strips, they were also doing their own 6 part mini series, written by Peter David. The Free Comic Book Day issue retold the story of the Phantom. However, in their new 6 part series, The Phantom must battle The Singh Brotherhood to stop them from finding The Lost City of Gold. It's set in the late 40s.

You can find most of these comics in your local comic shop and online via eBay.