Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Phantom Stranger #14 - Aug. 1971

The Phantom Stranger vs...The Man-Thing?!?

Well, no, not quite, as we'll see in a moment. But the above ranks to me as one of Neal Adams' finest covers, and that's saying something.

Our story starts with a man named Broderick Rune:


...wow, what a start!

As The Phantom Strangers lay unconscious, Rune's assistant, a man named Sahib, enters. He examines the Stranger, and claims he is "finished."

But right at that moment, Rune grasps his chest in agony, and collapses onto the floor. Sahib calls an ambulance, and next we are at a hospital, where Sahib demands that the doctor, named Ferret(!) go through with this procedure, saying "You knew there'd be risks when you joined the group!"

What's the procedure? Oh, nothing less than transplanting The Phantom Stranger's heart into Broderick Rune!:

The Phantom Stranger lets Rune know that he wants his heart back, and that one cannot attain immortality at the cost of your soul!

Rune wakes up, terrified. But he is told by Sahib that that was a dream, and that the surgery was a complete success. We'll see...

Meanwhile, down at the docks, two men go about dumping the Stranger's body into the drink. But when they unfold the blanket they were carrying it in, they see it's gone! And there behind them is the Stranger, who leaves them in a crumpled heap, terrified beyond words...

Back at the hospital, Rune's delight at now being immortal is tempered a bit by constant appearances of the Phantom Stranger

Rune can't stand this, and Sahib tries to calm him down. Rune suggests going somewhere where the Stranger can't find him, so they travel to the other side of the world, settling in a medieval castle.

Of course, distance means nothing to The Phantom Stranger, who begins haunting Rune all over again. Sahib offers a different solution, and they hold a seance, which conjures up the Stranger.

Sahib tells Rune to run, as he tries to take care of the Stranger himself. Rune runs outside, but:

...the end!

You'll notice at no point in this story did The Phantom Stranger take on a swamp creature. That's because the swamp creature angle was used for the Dr. Thirteen story:

...pretty unusual, you have to admit. Maybe there was some miscommunication to Adams about what The Phantom Stranger story was about, or maybe they just decided it would make for a more exciting cover.

This was Len Wein's first issue on the book--as you can see, he hit the ground running, and this was the beginning of, to me, The Phantom Stranger's golden age.


Anonymous said...

But what happened to the little dog Rune was holding on the first page?

Anonymous said...

Wow, quite the story! You do have to admit that the swamp creature makes for a very stunning cover. I'd like to hear about that Dr. Thirteen story!

Anonymous said...

Didn't this swamp creature cover appear around the same time as the first Swamp Thing tale in House of Secrets? I've seen other panels from this story, and the guy in the unconvincing swamp monster costume reminds me of the first Swamp Thing movie!


hcg said...

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