Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Phantom Stranger (Vol.3) #4 - Jan. 1988

"A World Full of Voices" by Paul Kupperberg, Mike Mignola, and P.Craig Russell.

The final chapter of the battle between The Phantom Stranger and Eclipso kicks off with the Stranger turning his attention towards the third part of Eclipso's evil plan:

We learn what that third past consists of: Lycaon, preaching peace, will convince all those listening to him (via a televised concert) to "join together", making the world one for a brief moment, which will give Eclipso the opening he needs to open the portal between the world and the realm of magic. Then, the Lords of Chaos will use all that energy to destroy the world once and for all!

Meanwhile, backstage at the show, Col. Vostok--Negative Woman--breaks her way inside. She has a mission: to stop this broadcast at all costs!

But she is stopped by Lycaon, who suddenly appears from nowhere and blasts her with a bolt of energy.

At the same time, The Phantom Stranger is headed (via an airplane mundane!) to Stonehenge, where he encounters...Eclipso!:

After some initial success, Eclipso gets the better of the Stranger and trusses him up. With the help of a magical remote control(!), he shows the Stranger how Lycaon's concert is going.

Lycaon preaches self-reliance, blaming "scientists and politicians" for the world's troubles, and asks everyone within the sound of his voice to join hands and imagine the world as one!
And while this is what Eclipso wanted, there are other consequences: the Stranger is able to draw from the White Magic practiced at Stonehenge to free himself and make one last attempt to stop his plan!

He and Eclipso are teleported to the concert, and all hell begins to break loose--literally! Bruce Gordon shows up, and goes after his alter ego Eclipso, leaving the Stranger to go after Lycaon. At the same time, a demon emerges, and begins to devour the sun itself!

Meanwhile, Negative Woman wakes up, and sneaks into the broadcasting booth, looking to shut it down. She hits the volume control, causing a huge burst of feedback, which breaks Lycaon's focus, giving the Stranger the chance to focus all the energy brought forth into himself:

Is the Stranger now gone forever? It sure seems that way. But, of course, this is The Phantom Stranger we're talking about...


...the end.
A great, go for broke ending to a fine series: all the elements meet up, evil is defeated, and The Phantom Stranger now has a new purpose to his existence. As you can see from the last panel, the Stranger's home is no longer the inky shadows, but the natural beauty which is Life.

This series ends with another text page by Kupperberg, giving us some background on the creative participants, and asking the readers for a response to the series. He ends with "We're waiting."You know, I bought and liked this series at the time, but I didn't get up the gumption to write in (I was insecure about expressing myself in writing...obviously I got over that). Now I feel like I really should have, because I would've loved to see this series continue as an ongoing book.

This series was fun, full of adventure and humor, but managed to respect the character of The Phantom Stranger by using him effectively, as well as giving him a new platform from which to have new adventures. As much as I liked the series in 1987, I like it so much more now.

Of course, The Phantom Stranger did not get another book, but he did earn another solo feature, again by Paul Kupperberg, who would become the Stranger's best friend in the 80s.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. The Stranger had some more guest-starring to do, which we'll get to starting tomorrow!


Anonymous said...

You know, I have to disagree with you about Eclipso. I always thought the coolest thing about him was the costume. And the concept; an eclipse being the trigger for a supervillain to emerge. I thought the dumb part was having to hold a little stone up to your eye to use your powers. Being a foe for the Stranger was a good fit, though.

I always wanted to ride on the Condorde, darn it.

rob! said...

Those elfin boots and cap always made me giggle, but Mignola made it work.

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