Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Phantom Stranger #10 - Dec. 1970

The Phantom Stranger meets his mostly deadly foe!

Another superb, classic cover by Neal Adams--you could've run this on a gothic romance paperback, and it would've fit perfectly.

Inside The Phantom Stranger sets up the story for us:

The three women are met by a handsome stranger, who calls himself...Tannarak. He takes the one woman, Lotti Schultz, by the hand and they dance.

When Lotti returns, she seems hypnotized, and is pale as a ghost. Then...:

...and we're off to a great start, courtesy Gerry Conway and Jim Aparo!

Dr. Thirteen arrives to investigate, as does The Phantom Stranger! Thirteen of course is none too pleased to see him, and accuses the Stranger of having a hand in this.

As Thirteen and the Stranger go through their paces, Lotti's two friends, Irene and Michelle, leave the club. As they round a corner, someone is waiting for them...

Inside, the Stranger and Thirteen hear a scream, only to find Irene sitting on the ground sobbing, all alone. The Stranger takes charge:

Irene says it was this Tannarak guy, who grabbed Michelle and took off. Thirteen wants no part of teaming up with the Phantom Stranger...good thing, since the Stranger has already left!

Meanwhile, Tannarak makes off with the comely Michelle

He takes her to his home, a castle-like place lined with thick walls. He talks of Michelle having died and left him, but now she has returned to him!

Turns out when Tannarak was a boy, on the streets of Cairo,he was friends with a young girl named Diana. One time they stole some food from a fruit stand, and while Diana got away, young Tannarak got caught by the shopkeeper, who shows him a dead body, to scare the young boy into going straight.

Obsessed with death ever since, Tannarak studied alchemy to learn the secrets of eternal life, and has put "that force which ages men" into a giant gold statue of himself, while Tannarak himself lives on through the souls of others.

Tannarak then prepares to make "Diana" drink a potion, when he is stopped by The Phantom Stranger!

The Stranger takes matters into his own hands, and clocks Tannarak one, knocking him over. He reaches for a potion, which the Stranger kicks out of his hand, knocking him into his own statue:

Michelle wakes up, and Thirteen and Irene arrive.

Thirteen again goes into his "this is all fake" spiel, but then how does he explain all the gold laying around? How could it be real gold if Tannarak didn't have mastery of changing elements through alchemy?

He claims there's an explanation, but the Stranger doesn't wait around for another lecture:

Another fun story, and the introduction of Tannarak, a great foe for The Phantom Stranger.

But this issue doesn't stop there! There's a second story, reprinted from The House of Mystery #11:

...despite the splash page addition of the Stranger, this isn't a Phantom Stranger story--instead, it's a EC-esque tale of a man trapped living the same day over and over again...

But that's still not all! This issue has a third story, also by Conway and Aparo:

A goofily creepy story about a regular schmo who makes a deal with the devil, it revolves around an inflatable crocodile (!) which is infused with black magic.

I love this next to last panel, where we see some of the other people who have apparently struck deals with Mr. Scratch:


Infantino, Orlando, and Adams...wonder what deals they struck?

This little story is one of my favorite Phantom Stranger stories, even though he's mostly just a host for the story. Between this and the Tannarak story, you've got the makings for a great issue of The Phantom Stranger!


Wings1295 said...

Sounds like a great issue all-around! I do miss the multiple story comics from back in the day.

Anonymous said...

Love, love, love the Aparo art. I especially liked what he did with hands and gloves and the positioning of figures. Interesting to see that the Stranger loses his cloak in this one, a reminder that he's not a traditional super-hero, his outfit isn't all of one piece like a super-hero costume.
The old-fashioned artwork in the reprint is charming as well. I miss that kind of quaint, precise drafstmanship coupled with fantastic imagery.

Anonymous said...

Another interesting story. Hmm, an immortal would make an interesting foe for PS, although he's already got Talia floating around out there. I suppose Tanarak would be a more malicious opponent.

The Groovy Agent said...

I love that mag! It was my first issue of Phantom Stranger (coverless, though--somebody probably put that beautiful cover on the wall as a poster)--and it led to many, many more!

Anonymous said...

your blog is clearly a labour of love and it shows - I didn't pick up on The Phantom Stranger until late 1972, so this is a really enjoyable way to fill in the gaps.

Those Neal Adams covers were simply gorgeous and Jim Aparo is probably the most under-rated artist in comics history.

More power to your elbow, as we say in Blighty!


Dave V

rob! said...


yes, it is a labor of love. i always liked PS, starting when i was a kid, and its been a treat (re)discovering all these great stories from a time before i was around.

i agree, Aparo is very underrated--i think his general lack of flash, the fact that he never wrote his own material, and that he basically toggled between 2-3 titles for most of his career kept him from being regarded on the same level with Kirby, Ditko, Kubert, Adams, etc.

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