Behind this superb cover lies a tale of the original Phantom Stranger!
Right around this time, DC started reprinting some of the stories from the original 1950s Phantom Stranger series in places other than the current series and one showed up in this awesome collection.
As if 100 pages of comics for 50 cents wasn't enough, DC made the effort to make the package even more fun. Not only does Berni Wrightson deliver a masterful cover, but he actually hosts the book himself:
Inside this book is twelve stories, all culled from DC books of the 50s and 60s, interspersed with intros starring Wrightson, drawn by Wrightson, along with one-page gags by the great Sergio Aragones.
This issue's Phantom Stranger story is reprinted from The Phantom Stranger, Volume 1, #1--"The Haunters From Beyond" by John Broome, Carmine Infantino, and Sy Barry:
It opens with a young woman, Anne Parris, who confides in her family physician a deep dark secret.
When he doesn't believe her, she feels totally despondent, and prepares to kill herself by jumping off a bridge. Luckily, someone is there to stop her...The Phantom Stranger!
She tells this stranger her terrible secret...that she is a descendant of Samuel Parris, who started the Salem Witch Trials in 1692.
Not too long ago, she received a book in the mail, and after she opened it, she started to feel drowsy, and woke up to two mysteriously-dressed people, who claimed that her descendant killed them all those years ago! They claim she is cursed!
The Phantom Stranger attempts to comfort her, just by being someone who will listen:
When they arrive at her home, the two "ghosts" reappear, but The Phantom Stranger punches the male one right in the mouth! The mysterious mist returns, and the two ghosts disappear.
Ghosts? What kind of ghosts leave mud tracks on the floor?:
The man who arrives is Anne's cousin Bryce, and his fiancee Rita. He thinks this stranger is the one behind Anne's problems, and threatens to call the police!
But The Phantom Stranger has an alternate theory--that its he who is the culprit!
Bryce pulls a gun, but the Stranger quickly disarms him. He then tries to hit the Stranger over the head with a metal sculpture, but the Stranger knocks it out of his hand:
I absolutely love that spooky last panel, its so abstract and cool. Infantino did some amazing work on this series, but its so little known!
A solid, fun collection--DC is kind of bringing these back a little bit, with their mostly reprint-filled one-shots they've been releasing the last year or so. I'd love to see them bring back these genre-specific collections...lord knows, DC has literally tons of material lying around.