Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Phantom Stranger #34 - Jan. 1975

The Phantom Stranger takes on a man who is half-machine!

Gerry Talaoc is back, drawing another Arnold Drake tale entitled "A Death In The Family!":

...I dunno, I think Charlie hates the rackets! Oh, he's being sarcastic.

As Charlie is driven back to the family's building, The Phantom Stranger is watching from afar.

When Charlie arrives, he has a surprise waiting for him...his dead older brother, Lon! Lon tells his brother that in the casket is the corpse of some bowery bum. So why the ruse?

Lon explains that when he was a kid, he and his mother met the local neighborhood witch(!), an old woman named Malava. Malava had all kinds of cures over the years, so when Lon was shot by rival mobsters, she was called upon to try and heal him.

Lon still plans to run the organization, but need his little brother to help him out. Charlie agrees, against his better judgment, but for only six months. He gets in the building's elevator and heads down in more ways than one

As Charlie walks home, a car drives by and tries to put a few bullets into him! Luckily The Phantom Stranger is there and pushes him out of the way, saving his life.

Charlie returns to his brother, saying it was their driver, Enrico, who ratted him out to the rival gang. Enrico doesn't like being accused, and he whips out a pistol and fires at Charlie!

A mysterious gloved hand appears to move the gun just as it fires, and the bullets fly into Lon! But we see that Lon is not human..he's some sort of machine!

The fight between Enrico and Charlie continues, however


It turns out Enrico made up the story about the witch. He and other members of th gang somehow figured out how to transplant Lon's brain into this massive computer, where he is their slave!

Lon doesn't want to live this nightmarish existence, and when Enrico comes back in the room, he attacks:

This is one freaky story. Mobsters, brain transplants, robots? Did Bob Haney write this?

Dr. Thirteen makes a return appearance as a back-up feature. On the letters page, readers are still lukewarm over the efforts of Drake and Talaoc, but they are very positive towards the new Black Orchid strip, which editor Joe Orlando promises will return next issue.

One final note about Jim Aparo's cover: whether on purpose or not, I like Aparo's dramatic cheat of having the half-robot guy be almost twice the size of The Phantom Stranger, when in the story he's regular sized, and never even attacks anyone!


Anonymous said...

I remember seeing an ad for this issue and not thinking much of it. However, now that I see it here I believe, and correct me if I'm wrong, Rob, but isn't this the first time the Stranger actually appears on a cover of his own book?? I guess he just really really didn't like the spotlight. :-)

rob! said...


well--PS appeared with his back to the camera on #s 12, 18, and 31, partially on #33, and full-on on #21.

but yeah, he didn't seem to like the spotlight all that much. :)

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