Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Phantom Stranger #28 - Jan. 1974

The Phantom Stranger meets Two-Face?

No, not quite, although it does kinda look like, from this cover by Nick Cardy. Let's see what's going on inside:


...that is one creepy set of splash pages!

This Lemmick guy panics, waving a gun he brought on board(!) at all these people who look like monsters.

He starts rambling that his real name is Joseph Ganz, that he demands the plane turn around and he get a million dollars in small bills, and that he is "the only one who can save the world from them."

The plane is turned around, and The Phantom Stranger is the one who is handed the ransom money(!). He then gets back on the plane and hands it to Lemmick.

But then Lemmick looks at the Stranger, and:

Cut to: weeks later, and Lemmick is on trial. The jury is deliberating, talking over his testimony. Some jurors think he is just a crook, pretending to be crazy, others are not so sure.

The Phantom Stranger shows up in the jury room, and suggests that maybe Lemmick suffers from schizophrenia, where he is both Lemmick and Ganz. He decides to get some answers, and goes to visit Lemmick in his jail cell.

The Stranger hypnotizes the man, and he tells his story. He remembers stopping his car at a fill-up station, which he tries to rob. After he gets the money, he feels "Ganz" coming out of him. He sees the owner's kindly dog as a horrible, giant, red-skinned monster, and he shoots it dead and takes off.

He was arrested soon after, and institutionalized. After a while under doctor's care, he has no more visits from Ganz--until one night, where Ganz reemerges, convincing Lemmick to escape in the middle of the night, which he does.

Later, he steals a single-engine plane, flying it into a mountain for the sheer destructive pleasure of it:

After a few more years of Ganz taking over and getting Lemmick into trouble, he was arrested again, and wasn't released until he was an adult.

The Stranger, afraid that the jury is going to decide to free Lemmick any moment, tells him that Ganz is here in the jail cell! Ganz "appears", looking like a horrible, fanged demon--a hallucination courtesy of the Stranger.

Lemmick, in total panic, screams that this is impossible, since he made Ganz up, and his whole story of a dual personality is a fake! With this new piece of evidence, the trial concludes:

I know you can't put too much real world reality into Phantom Stranger stories, but having the Stranger be the one who forces a confession out of Lemmick--which is then used as evidence in a trial--registers a 10 on the Goofy Meter.

I thought this issue's story was interesting, and it certainly had a great kick-off (Talaoc's monster people in the beginning are goofy yet really disturbing), but the ending is sort of a muddle. Maybe is Arnold Dark had had a few extra pages this time, he might have found a less hasty, confused conclusion.


Anonymous said...

I kind of liked this one. A small, little courtroom drama, nothing earth-shaking at stake here. You even get a little bit of a twist at the end.
I agree, the opening splashes are very effective; I especially like the Stranger appearing in the aisle, addressing the reader. Bit of an homage to Rod Serling.
These are the kind of little stories that would have made good teleplays. PS would have made a good TV show.

John said...

I like the cover. Although, is it me or is the mirror's reflection wrong?

BTW, Rob, I really like this blog! I believe you metioned earlier you would be featuring PS merchandise; all 2 pieces. I can think of one (the DC Direct figure, which I have laying around here somewhere). What's the other?

rob! said...


i agere, PS would have made a good TV show, maybe in the style of Night Gallery or something.


thanks for the kind words, glad you're enjoying it!

as to merchandise, there's actually 3 items--the DC Direct figure, a heroclix figure, and 2 "Vs." game cards.

there's also an almost example of The Phantom Stranger in live action, which i will try and figure out how to post here when the time comes...

(cue mysterious laugh)

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