Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Phantom Stranger #35. Part One: "Uuuuuuuuuu"

Phantom Stranger #35, Jim Aparo cover
 Phantom Stranger Quote of the Day:
"Death -- the final arrogant act in a play too often taken for granted. But just who may bring down the final curtain? Who has the right to end life not earned, but given? The solutions to these riddles are not easily found -- for they lie hidden, lost within the forgotten labyrinths of the human spirit."
I've always been of the opinion that the correct thing to do upon encountering a person about to throw themselves off a bridge is to fake a heart attack - on the grounds that, no matter how much my fellow man might be suffering, I alone, should always be the centre of attention.

Sadly the Phantom Stranger lacks my wisdom and, upon encountering a young woman about to top herself, appears from nowhere to give her a lecture.

Now, you or I, upon enduring one of the Phantom Stranger's meaningless speeches, might be more tempted than ever to jump.

But not this one.

Instead she abandons the attempt and settles for knocking him unconscious.

Phantom Stranger #35, captured by magic chains
It turns out she works for a mad scientist called Seine whose wife, thanks to his irresponsibility, is on her deathbed. Seine reckons that by feeding a bunch of demonic creatures the Phantom Stranger's soul, so they can enter our dimension and kill us all, he can restore his wife to perfect health. Needless to say his well-thought-out scheme soon goes more belly-up than a constipated goldfish, as his wife drags herself from her bed to free the Stranger and end forever her husband's plans.

After all those other Phantom Stranger tales where the titular twaddler gets to do nothing but annoy characters with his interminable philosophising, it's a refreshing change to see him actually at the centre of things, and I love Gerry Talaoc's art on the tale, which has that scratchy, twisted raggedness that really does make the world seem a dangerous and unpleasant place filled with spiritual decay and paranoia. Admittedly, in his rare chance to shine as a man of action, the Phantom Stranger proves to be a conspicuously futile derring-doer, managing only to get captured and stand around as Seine's wife does all the actual heroics, but still...

Phantom Stranger #35, captive but eloquent as ever
"Uuuuuuuuu"?!? Quickly! Someone put 10 pence in
the Phantom Stranger's meter! He's finally run out
of flannel! 
More importantly than even the Phantom Stranger though, this issue contains something else that's of far more interest to me. Could it be in the letters page? Could it be in the back-up strip?

Only time - and my next post - will tell.

So, journey with me, Reader, into the eerie realms we know as Comicdom. For, tomorrow night, I venture into a land of madness undreamed, and no one can know if I emerge from the venture with sanity intact.

To Be Steveinued.

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