Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Phantom Stranger #22 - Dec. 1972

sg
The Phantom Stranger faces the menace of The Dark Circle!

After trip-hammering through various classic horror settings in previous issues, this time we have the classic Frankenstein scenario, courtesy another beautifully moody cover by Jim Aparo.

Inside, we are reintroduced to The Phantom Stranger's erstwhile girlfriend, Cassandra Craft:



sg
sg
Meanwhile, the Stranger stands alone (as always) on a rocky cliff, observing a thunderstorm. Suddenly, a vision of Cassandra appears to him, pleading for help!

Back at the creepy castle, the giant, hulking Morgg prepares to torture poor Cassandra...luckily the Stranger is there to stop him!

He lands an uppercut on Morgg, unties Cassandra, and they escape. Except all is not what it appears to be
:

sg
What?!?

Later, the Stranger wakes up to find himself chained, dangling in the air. He is met by a group of people, led by a man named Dorian. He explains to the Stranger that they took control over Cassandra to lure the Stranger to them. Their plan is to destroy the Phantom Stranger, and scatter his ashes to the four winds. This group is called...The Dark Circle
:

sg
The evil ritual begins, with members of the group dancing around a fire lit beneath the Stranger. The flames rise higher and higher until the Stranger completely disappears from view.
Has the Stranger died? Or has he gone somewhere else?
:

sg
A ghostly image of Dorian appears in this supernatural world, transporting Cassandra there to fight him. If the Stranger manages to kill her, he will survive! But how can he bring himself to do that?

Cassandra attacks the Stranger, and is he unwilling to fight back. He stops struggling and stands in front of her, willing to accept what he does. Cassandra blasts him with a bolt of energy, dissipating the Stranger into nothingness!

Cassandra is satisfied, having won, and begins to walk away. Then...something in her awakens, and she realizes what she has done!

Falling to her knees sobbing, but she is relieved to hear behind her the voice of The Phantom Stranger!

Of course, the Stranger used his powers to create an illusion, betting that the demon inside her would depart once it thought the Stranger was dead. Now that she is back to normal, he takes her hand and they head back to the "real" world.

The Dark Circle is waiting for them, and its Morgg who wants revenge first. But The Phantom Stranger is stronger than he looks
:


sg
Cassandra can handle herself, and simultaneously kicks Morgg in the knee while karate-chopping him in the neck. Nice! Morgg puts the Stranger in a bear hug, but the Stranger uses his own medallion to throttle the hulking brute! Double nice!

The Stranger then hauls Morrg into the raging fire, which terrifies Dorian. As the place begins to burn down, he mutters something about "our master will not tolerate failure". But the Stranger and Cassandra are too busy escaping to hear him. Outside
:


sg

...for once, a sweetly romantic end to a Phantom Stranger tale! This story is lots of fun, and I liked ramping up Cassandra to being less a damsel in distress into someone who can handle herself. I mean, jeez, doesn't The Phantom Stranger deserve a little happiness once in a while?
On the letters page, readers are commenting on the introduction of Cassandra, and it includes this charming letter:


sg
...I miss the DC letters pages.

1 comment:

Bribaby said...

This is it! This was the first issue of P.S. that I ever had as a kid and it made me then and forever a Phantom phanatic and a Cassandra Craft devotee!
My brother must have given this to me; I had it for years and years and reread it countless times, even after I lost the cover.

Thanks for the blog and keep up the good work.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...