Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Phantom #1

   I'm a huge fan of The Phantom.

   That comic strip character, created by Lee Falk, was (possibly) the first costumed hero in American comics, and over the decades since has built up an amazingly fertile history and environment.

   The modern Phantom family is the latest in a long line of heroes, dating back hundreds of years.

   The sons of each Phantom have carried on the fight against crime into the modern day - it's the family business.

   So when I heard Dynamite was starting a new line with the hero (along with other classic King Features comic strip heroes like Mandrake, Jungle Jim and the returning Flash Gordon), I was happy to pick it up.

   What a shame it doesn't actually feature The Phantom.

   Apparently written by someone who's never read the original stories, we instead join the action in progress (never a promising event in a first issue). The story apparently spins out of a recent devastating attack on the Earth (I presume by Ming the Merciless), which included the death of The Phantom.

   So Mandrake's ally Lothar decides to take on the role (no idea why) until the actual heir to the role can be found. What follows is a series of fights with some mercenaries (Why? Who knows?), some strange animal-headed creatures (again, no idea what that's about) and then they run a scheme worthy of a bad sitcom.

   It's just sad to see a book with so much potential wasted. The Phantom is such a great character, with a terrific mythology to draw on. Why throw all that out in the first issue?

   Only a month into the new year and we already have a leading candidate for "worst comic of the year."

Grade: D



Peter Wallace said...

When I heard this series announced I was jazzed, especially with the Darwyn Cook covers. But seeing the preview art on all the books in this event dashed my hopes. Crappy across the board, a consistent problem with Dynamite books. Except for the recent Flash Gordon series with art by Doc Shaner, great stuff. But it ended for this miniseries thing. Ugh. I read that the writer of the Phantom just thought it would be cool if Lothar was the Phantom. Ugh again. Let Lothar be Lothar!

Chuck said...

Yes, the writer brags about not being a fan of the original series. And nowhere in the comic do I see the line: "The Phantom created by Lee Falk."

Glen Davis said...

I decided not to get this one. The Hermes series will have to be enough for me.

Chuck said...

Good call, Glen. Not sure how we have two different Phantom series from two different companies, but I hope the Hermes series (which I haven't read) is better than this version.