Thursday, January 22, 2009

Saga of The Swamp Thing #3 - July 1982

The Phantom Stranger in "The Beauty of The Beast"!

Mike W. Barr and Dan Spiegle continue their run on The Phantom Stranger back-up strip, in a tale about jealousy:

Two sisters, Rachel and Sue, seemingly couldn't be more different--Rachel is beautiful and outgoing, while Sue is homely and meek.

Rachel is a fashion model and Sue is her assistant, but we can see that, for all of Rachel's wealth, she is incredibly vain and greedy. Its up to Sue to show some kindness towards the blind homeless man who panhandles outside the building where Rachel just finished a photo shoot.

They go to a party at their friend Brad's apartment, and Rachel wonders why only the three of them are there. Brad promises to explain, but pours the women some tea bought during a trip he made to Tibet.

The tea puts Rachel into a zombie-like trance. Once Brad reveals another Tibetan object, an idol of some sort, The Phantom Stranger appears and tries to step in:

Brad casts a spell, with the help of the talisman and some incantations, and we see that the souls of Rachel and Sue switch bodies! Sue is delighted to now be beautiful, while Rachel stares into the mirror, confused and horrified.

Over the next few weeks, we see what these changes have wrought. While there's an initial change in how each of them acts (Rachel now appears to be kind to the blind man, etc.), eventually they start to assume their old roles. Sue, formerly the kind one, in Rachel's body now acts just like the real Rachel did.

Sue, still inside Rachel's body, is horrified to see herself change, and eventually she decides to kill herself before she gets any worse.

She jumps off a bridge, but the Stranger is there to catch her. He takes her back to Brad's apartment:
...the end.

A sweet story, and its interesting to see that The Phantom Stranger performed a little mystical plastic surgery on Sue.

To be honest, I think Brad maybe needed to get a little divine punishment, for mucking around with forces he didn't understand and couldn't control. But this seems to be a slightly more gentle Phantom Stranger than the one we knew from the Wein/Aparo days.


Anonymous said...

Does he perform mystical plastic surgery? I think the last panel shows the same old homely girl, only now Brad knows she's beautiful on the inside, so he now sees her differently. Or does PS actually make her prettier? Or is that what you're saying? It's early in the morning; I'm confused.

rob! said...

Look at the woman in the first panel of the last page, and then the last panel--PS definitely did a little touch-up.

Anonymous said...

Boy, I didn't care for this one. First, the Stranger acts very irresponsibly--he's there on the scene, yet he still allows Brad to perform what bascially amounts to identity rape. And then, when the principal characters learn that it's not physical beauty but the way they behave towards others that is the true measure of a person's worth, they're rewarded--by both being made physically beautiful. What kind of lesson is that?
I think the real moral of the story is never trust anyone who wears a kicky neckerchief.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I get it now.

Just noticed that the reflection of Rachel is not her reflection. Check out that the way her hair is parted is not reversed in the reflection. Oops!

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