Sunday, November 23, 2008

Adventure Comics #418 - April 1972

An adventure with the original Phantom Stranger!

For whatever reason, two stories from the original Phantom Stranger series got slotted in to run into two consecutive issues of Adventure Comics (even though the cover shows the current version of the character).

Of DC's three war horse titles, Action, Detective, and Adventure, it was Adventure that never had a distinct identity. Obviously, that's because despite being the title in which several long-standing DC stars made their debut (Starman and Sandman, for example), none of them were of the popularity of a Superman or Batman, so no one character laid claim to Adventure Comics and called it their own.

(The argument could be made that either the Legion of Superheroes or Aquaman hold that designation, but that's for another time, and certainly another blog)

So Adventure Comics just chugged along with an ever-changing roster of stars, so The Phantom Stranger works just as well anyone, I guess.

This issue features the story "Death's Strange Deputy", from The Phantom Stranger (Vol.1) #2, by John Broome, Carmine Infantino, and Bernard Sachs:

This Adam guy wakes up a tad groggy, trying to understand what's going on. He is understandably confused as to what he's being told by his "creator", Velie:
(I love Velie's profile there in that first panel. Nice job, Mr. Infantino!)

Velie shows Adam a makeshift voodoo doll of his enemy, who says that "Evil magic gives him such strong protection that he can be destroyed only by someone as pure and untainted by the world as yourself!"

He hands Adam a dagger and sends him on his mission--kill the evil magician!

Adams staggers out into the street, but is met by...The Phantom Stranger!:

The Stranger tries to get the dagger from Adam's hands, but he breaks away and gets to the "evil magician"'s house.

Just as he's about to plant the dagger in the guy, the Stranger sneaks in through a window and stops him. Adam's pseudo-victim knows Adam, and tries to wake him from his stupor, but the Stranger stops him.

Adam then hops out the nearest open window, and makes his way back to Velie's house. Velie gives him another dagger (what, does he have a drawer full of these things?) and tells him to try again.

But the Stranger has followed Adam back to Velie's house, and knocks Adam out. The Stranger wants to know why Velie wants this other man killed, but Velie won't talk, and he grabs a gun to defend himself.

Suddenly Adam, now awake, throws a nearby glass jar at Velie, knocking the gun out of his hand. The Stranger makes the most of the opportunity:
...and so ends another adventure with The Phantom Stranger!

Note that the original art has been modified--The Phantom Stranger looks more like his current incarnation than he did in the original series. Never having seen the original comic, I can't say for sure whether whether those were the only changes made.

Aside from the PS story, this issue is chock-a-block with some great features. The main Supergirl story is by current Phantom Stranger scribe Len Wein, with a really nice art job by Jose Delbo and Bob Oksner (I was never that big a fan of Delbo's work, but it's really nice here--maybe Oksner was the exact right inker for him!).

It also features an unpublished Golden Age Dr. Mid-Nite story, as well as part one of the classic Denny O'Neil/Alex Toth Black Canary solo adventure, one the great minor classics of DC's seventies output.

That's a lot of entertainment for a measly quarter, although I paid a little over that on eBay...

1 comment:

Anonymous said... the asst. district attorney wakes up groggy and stark naked in this guy's house? I have a feeling Velie slipped him a roofie and did more than just brainwash him.

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