Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Phantom Stranger #29 - March 1974

Because no one really asked for it, the return of Dr. Zorn!

A mere two issues after being defeated by The Phantom Stranger, madman Dr. Matt Zorn makes a return appearance:

The security guard chasing the mugger is shocked to see someone fires a bullet at him! The bullet in question came from Officer Duggan, a cop who sneers at Leon's lack of a real badge and tells him to drop the case.

Zorn shows up and says he is okay, no harm done, refusing to press charges. Leon is furious as Duggan's interference, and storms off.

As Zorn walks home:

Zorn basically tells the Stranger to kiss off, and heads home to the Rembrandt Apartment complex, since he is teaching a class is Physio-Therapy there.

Meanwhile, we see Leon returning home for lunch, where his wife is waiting for him, wearing a voodoo mask(!). Turns out she is studying to get her doctorate in Psychology, and she is writing a paper on Haitian witchcraft. She jokes that she has put a curse on her husband, and "Next time you back down to Duggan--your nose will fall off!"

Later that night, back at the apartments, a half-naked man walks about, zombified, muttering about "the devil." Duggan tries to apprehend him, but the man attacks Duggan, and starts to strangle him!

Leon is there, luckily for Duggan, and he knocks the attacker out with his baton. He takes the man to a hospital, and returns to the complex. He heads for the community room where Dr. Zorn's class is being held, and:

Dr. Zorn tells Leon nothing is amiss, this has to do with their study of "an anicent Nordic religious rite." Leon shakily buys this, and leaves the room.

Alone again with his students, Dr. Zorn asks one of his students to get an "Id Doll" from the cabinet. The student does (the doll we see on the cover), and puts it on his chest.

The group begins a voodoo chant, and the doll comes alive, now filled with the spirit of the young man! Zorn commands his students to get the rest of the dolls...

Meanwhile, the Stranger arrives at Leon's house, waking up his wife. She turns to see what is going on with her husband:

Leon's wife tries to will the dolls off her husband, so they then turn on her. As they being to attack her, the Stranger steps in and emits some sort of wave of energy from his mind.

It causes the dolls to scream in anger and fall away. Now safe, the Stranger tells Leon and his wife he now can go apprehend Dr. Zorn. He heads back to the community center:

...after two decent stories by Arnold Drake, this is the first one I'd say really doesn't work. Dr. Zorn isn't such a great villain that he warrants a return appearance, let alone the "arch-nemesis" role he seems to be taking on here.

Plus, the combination of the Phantom Stranger and the law is confusing. Since when does The Phantom Stranger need evidence? In the earlier stories by Len Wein, you got the sense that the Stranger was dealing with the concepts of righteous justice, not getting bogged down with collecting evidence. What's next, The Phantom Stranger takes on evil zoning laws?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yeah, you're the past, the Stranger found a way to punish the evil-doers, or lead them to destroy themselves, without having to rely on mundane law. I guess Drake wanted him to work within "the system."

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