Monday, December 22, 2008

The Phantom Stranger #38 - Sept. 1975

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The Phantom Stranger in "The Curse of The Stalking Skull!"

Behind an intriguing cover by Jim Aparo, Paul Levitz takes over as full writer on the series, accompanied by new artist Fred Carrillo:



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Meanwhile, a man we've seen before--Dr. Nathan Seine--moves forward on his plan for revenge.

We see a flashback of his previous encounter with the Stranger, and how Seine vows to his dead wife Margaret that The Phantom Stranger will pay!

This threat doesn't seem to scare the Stranger, as he arrives in Seine's home in person. Seine wants revenge, and even though he doesn't have the help of "nether-demons" this time, he does hold some sort of glowing crystal, which he attacks the Stranger with:


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Seine has recreated his assistant, Gola, and brought along three new helpers. Like last time, though, the Stranger is able to dissolve Gola back into the pile of sand she was created from. The Stranger uses the sand to put out the ring of fire he's been surrounded by, and frees himself.

Then Seine transforms the other three helpers into their elemental forms--fire, air, and water, and attacks the Stranger again
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The Stranger uses his powers to to slam the fire and water elementals together, cancelling them both out. Once again, he and Seine are alone.

The Phantom Stranger tries one more time to talk Seine down from his madness, but Seine rejects this, and says he'd destroy the whole world if it meant getting rid of The Phantom Stranger.

The Stranger is left with no choice, and with a wave of his hand:



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Even though the story ends with Seine trapped in his madness, blind as a bat, its actually a relatively kind ending to the story.

In the Wein/Aparo era, The Phantom Stranger either killed people directly, or allowed them to die gruesome deaths. Here, he takes pity on the poor sod, and let's him live, giving him the chance to redeem himself.





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This memorable ad ran in DC's books at the time--as a kid, I enjoyed seeing all the different art styles (Kirby, Kubert, Ditko/Wood, Grell, Alcala) smooshed together like that.

And like I've mentioned before, its interesting to see that DC marketed The Phantom Stranger as a mystery title, not a superhero one.

1 comment:

Bribaby said...

OK, so I assume that the black diamond Seine was using was responsible for the lightless sun, but why was the mob picking on the nun? What was the history there? It seemed too arbitrary.

I did like the off-handed way this tied into another DCU character, Eclipso. That kind of casual continuity brought joy to me as young comics reader.

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