Saturday, January 24, 2009

Saga of The Swamp Thing #5 - Sept. 1982

The Phantom Stranger in "...But The Patient Died!"

The rare two-parter concludes with this issue, under writer Mike W. Barr, penciller Howard Bender, and inker Tony DeZuniga. When we left him last issue, The Phantom Stranger was in the clutches of his old foe, Tannarak:

Tannarak's up to his old tricks, trying to trap souls in a collection of mystical jars, so that he can use them to become immortal.

While Tannarak performs his bizarre rituals, Dr. Rune happens to look into the operating room and sees that the Stranger volunteers his own life in order to save the young woman he operated on earlier that night:

While Tannarak fights off Dr. Rune's attack, the Stranger uses a mental command to get the young woman to enter the room and help free him.

This kicks off a battle of wills between the Stranger and Tannarak, and the young woman is pulled back and forth. Finally, the Stranger commands her to knock over the jar containing her soul.

She does, and it shatters, freeing her soul to re-enter her body. Now that she is no longer a soulless husk, she frees the Stranger from his mystical chains. As the Stranger collects himself, Tannarak realizes his time is up:
I love that last panel--one of the best, moodiest Phantom Stranger shots ever.

Is this really the end of Tannarak? Can we ever really be sure...?

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