Saturday, December 13, 2008

The House of Mystery #226 - Sept. 1974

Another adventure with the original Phantom Stranger!

The Phantom Stranger finished up his reprint series in The House of Mystery with this issue, featuring a story by John Broome, Carmine Infantino, and Bernard Sachs from The Phantom Stranger (Vol. 1) #5, titled "The Living Nightmare!":
We open with a young boy, about to be attacked by an lion which has escaped from the local zoo. Just before it attacks, a man named Jerry Samson steps in and fights off the lion with his bare hands!

A crowd of people form around the spectacle:
As Samson prepares for his fight with the champ, he is introduced to "Maxon, the famous medium." Maxon wants to learn whether Jerry really is the reincarnation of the original Samson.

In a large, darkened room later on, Maxon shows Jerry duplicates of the ancient weapons the original Samson used. Maxon then begins his ritual, which seems to draw the ghostly spirit of the original Samson out of Jerry's body!

Jerry panics, hits the lights, and the spirit disappears. Jerry thinks its all a scam, as does The Phantom Stranger, who arrives and believes Maxon to be a charlatan. He takes Jerry for a walk to calm him down:
That night, Jerry has a nightmare of a woman coming into his home to cut his hair--making him weak, just like the original. He wakes up to find his hair has been cut, even though he threw out all the scissors and knives in the place!

The Phantom Stranger finds a piece of a broken mirror, and thinks that could've been what--if not who--did it. The Stranger then conspires with Jerry's girlfriend Della to trick Jerry into using his strength, since he now believes its gone (making him sure to lose the big fight with the champ tonight).

The Stranger and Della set a fake fire, and Jerry, thinking she's in danger, busts down her apartment door to save her, showing him that he still has his strength
sg may have been a condition of having a lot of story and only eight pages to tell it in, but I love how, on this final page, we go from Jerry winning the fight to having already kicked the asses of the crooks trying to rig the fight.

This was the final installment of The Phantom Stranger's 3-issue run in The House of Mystery. I guess when you're talking about 100-page issues, it was impossible to tell which feature might have spiked sales, so who knows if the Stranger's appearances helped out or not?

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