Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Phantom Stranger #6 - Apr. 1970

The Phantom Stranger meets...The Headless Horseman?!?

Well...sort of, as we'll see. To be honest, this cover by Neal Adams is so good, I really wouldn't care whether anything resembling this took place inside. It's such a classic spooky image, it belongs in a hall of Great Comic Book Covers.

Anyway, inside, we find ourselves on the corner of Main Street and Thirteenth Street(!) as our regular cast of mod teens is hoofin' it, because their car has broken down.

Since the garage doesn't open until the morning, they need a place to crash, when they hear...a crash, and a blood-curdling scream!

They turn and see this:

...a great, dynamic splash page, courtesy penciler (and writer!) of this issue Mike Sekowsky, and inker Vince Colletta.

The kids unwisely head inside, where all the objects in the house--the rugs, the lamps, the furniture--begin to fly around the room!

Things then calm down, and then start up again just as suddenly! What's going on here?

The kids call the first guy they can think of who might know what to do--Dr. Thirteen, who is of course always home.

As Thirteen asks the kids for the details, he asks them if The Phantom Stranger has arrived yet. The kids answer n...wait, there he is!

Thirteen says he'll be right there, and the Stranger starts to investigate, while also being concerned with general tidiness:

Dr. Thirteen then arrives, and tells the kids that this is (of course) all a hoax, and regales them with a similar story that proves his point: "The Case of The Diabolical Deggs House."

On a normal street in a normal town, all the objects inside the Deggs house started flying around like crazy!

The police came to investigate, but could find nothing amiss. They leave, but that night, the Deggs' young daughter sees a horrible monster in his bathroom mirror, who tries to reach out and grab her!

It's at this point that Thirteen arrived, and using his high-tech equipment he discovered the true culprit--its not a monster, just a guy in a mask:

...pure purple loco, moldy fig...tough talk.

Turns out the whole thing was a plot by the Deggs' son, Jimmy, who hired "Creepy Conway" to scare his family as revenge, since he felt his parents loved his sister more than him. Weird kid...

Anyway, that story is all well and good, but then things start flying again, which angers Thirteen so much he takes a swing at the Phantom Stranger.

PS has had enough, and grabs Thirteen and puts him in an arm lock, forcing him to listen to his own story, "The Haunting of Drood Wood, or: Give Me Back My Head!"

A young couple is driving its way home through the woods. When the girl takes the wheel, she says she is taking a shortcut through Drood Wood.

This drives the man into a panic, saying Drood Wood is haunted, and that the curse of Drood Wood will kill him if they go any further.

But too late! They are met by...a headless horseman, who points a gun at them and asks if they have "found me head."

Turns out the man is an ancestor of the "bloody butcher" who chopped off the head in question, separating the man and his love, Ilene. The headless horseman cocks the trigger of his gun, but:

...The Phantom Stranger is there!

He leads them all to the grave of the headless man, and aims his gun at the stone likeness sitting atop the tombstone.

He fires, and sees inside the stone is...the man's head, right over his own grave!

The headless horseman is satisfied, and rides off, ready to join his beloved Ilene. David and Linda are naturally floored by all this, but David is relieved that the curse is lifted.

Thirteen wonders what the hell that has to do with anything. The Stranger points out its that the evil that men do lives on after them.

Specifically, he's talking about the evil that is here in the house...namely, the evil sorceress Tala!

Tala reveals her presence, but says she had nothing to do with was one of the two old women that lives in the house, a woman named Abigail!

Turns out that Abigail has been mad that her sister always takes the Pistachio ice cream, leaving her none. So she does what anyone else would do...uses a book of old spells their Father left them to call up a poltergeist and terrorize her sister!

The Phantom Stranger is attacked by the poltergeist when he attempts to grab the book, but it disappears when he manages to throw the book into a fire in the fireplace.

The Stranger then disappears, as the kids, Thirteen, and the women sit down to dinner...with Pistachio ice cream for desert!

Abigail is sent off to her room, but as we can see her mischief isn't quite over with yet:

...this is one goofy story, with an ending so comical and weird that it almost works.

My favorite sequence is the Headless Horseman one, with the superb moody coloring and deep shadows. I would've loved to have seen a whole issue like this.

On the letters page, "Mail To The Phantom Stranger", letter writer Kevin Cook puts up the theory that The Phantom Stranger is...Dr. Thirteen's father!!

1 comment:

Wings1295 said...

Interesting stories. Odd motive, though? Don't mess with Abby and her pistachio ice cream! Sheesh!

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