Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Phantom Stranger #15 - Oct. 1971

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The Phantom Stranger vs. The Iron Messiah!

Definitely one of Neal Adams' more crazy covers, it isn't many times you see voodoo mixed with a robot (with an afro, yet), so let's see what's going on inside:



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John Kweli slowly wakes up, and the visage of The Phantom Stranger turns into a woman named Ororo, a longtime friend of his.

Ororo tells John he was in a train wreck, and somehow he ended up--with all his equipment--outside Ororo's door. John asks about his father, who he came home to see, but Ororo tells him he has died.

John asks when and how that happened, and Ororo tells him it was just two days ago. They travel to John's boyhood home, a tiny village deep in the jungle, who are currently under threat by the local government, who considers these people "rabble-rousers."

John is accosted by Ngumi, who is the village's chieftan. John claims he is the new chief, since his father is now dead. But Ngumi says his people don't want him anymore, since he left to go join "the white man's world."

Ngumi prays to Chuma, the warrior god, for help against the government oppression. John scoffs at this, saying its an old myth, and old myths will not help these people.

John and Ororo run afoul of a lion on the way back, but luckily The Phantom Stranger arrives to save them. He offers a few cryptic words to them, then disappears.

The next day, John visits Trent, the nation's leader, and asks him to leave his people alone. Trent refuses, leaving John enraged:


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Days go by, and more and more of the village's people are put under the heel of the government's thugs, until one day, a cybernetic man--who claims to be Chuma--arrives to save the people!

They think he is truly a god
:

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Meanwhile, we see that Ngumi is enraged to have been disregarded by his people. We see that he is in league with Trent, but he is caught by the villagers' armed militia telling Trent to send in more troops.

Unfortunately, John's creation is starting to go beyond its original programming, and develops feelings for Ororo, who tells him they can never be together, because he is just a machine, and she is in love with John.

Chuma is heart(?)broken, and storms off, refusing to help the villagers any longer. He runs into The Phantom Stranger, who reminds him that if he truly loves Ororo, how can he let her die in the massacre that is about to happen?

Chuma returns, and does his duty, except...he finds himself behind John, and shoots him in cold blood, thinking he can now have Ororo.

But Ororo saw him do it, and brands him a murderer! Chuma grabs her, furious that the village has turned on who they thought was a god so quickly. The Phantom Stranger reappears
:

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...this is one grim story. Poor John, poor Chuma. Len Wein, borrowing from Frankenstein, of course, allows the story to have a similarly tragic ending.


As you could see from the cover, this was the first issue of The Phantom Stranger in DC's newest format--more pages for 25 cents. So in addition to the Stranger story, we have this:


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"I Battled for the Doom-Stone" is from My Greatest Adventure #61, written bt France Herron and drawn by the incomparable Alex Toth!

There's also a new Dr. Thirteen story:



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...I have to admit, "Satan's Sextet" sounds pretty cool.

There's also a third story, Mark Merlin in "I Scout Earth's Strangest Secrets!", from House of Secrets #23 by Bob Kanigher and Mort Meskin. (I didn't scan in that splash page because--well, no offense intended to Mr. Merlin, but excitement-wise Mark Merlin makes Dr. Thirteen look like Batman)

1 comment:

BentonGrey said...

Man, what an awesome title! This sounds like an especially good story. Major guts to Wein for giving it a tragic ending, too.

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