Friday, July 3, 2009

Batman + Phantom Stranger #1 - 1997

"Batman + Phantom Stranger" by Alan Grant and Arthur Ranson.

This is a big step-up from the Phantom Stranger's usual one-page guest-appearances; here he gets a whole book to team up with the Dark Knight Detective!

The story opens in a cemetery, narrated by the Stranger:
The story involves a group of crooks who are breaking into a crypt, to steal a magical ring off of a corpse. At the same time, a group of kids are there, doing the old Ouija Board bit.

One of the kids, named Konik, gets scared and runs off, stumbling onto the crime scene, making it look as though he has committed a murder. Batman asks the kid what happened, but the kids lies about why he was there in the first place, making Batman suspicious. He turns him in to the GCPD.

Batman is in a particularly broody mood this evening, and this dark thoughts are noticed by the Stranger:
I like how Batman doesn't even flinch, when he realizes that the Stranger has suddenly appeared behind him.

Batman--in his identity as Bruce Wayne--knows this kid, knows he didn't commit the murder, but can't get him to open up (there's a great scene where the Stranger visits Bruce in the back of his limo, while Alfred wonders why his boss is talking to himself).

Eventually Batman and the Stranger do the team-up thing, looking for more information about the guys who stole the ring:
Batman and the Stranger eventually catch up with the gang, and the story behind the ring extends back thousands of years, involving a lost race of people and the destruction of the world!

The kid, Konik, has been kidnapped by the gang, but at the right moment he helps Batman, proving his innocence. After some encouraging words to him from the Stranger, he and Batman take a moment to discuss what just happened:
I had never heard of this one-shot until I had to find it for this blog, and I have to sat it was a pleasant surprise. A good story, well written by Grant, with great art by Arthur Ranson (someone I was not familiar with before this book).

It also has some nice comedic moments, making this a wonderful, bigger scale version of those classic Bob Haney Brave and the Bold team-ups.


matthew jones said...

I've never heard of this special before either, but it sounds great and I'd love to own a copy of it. Alan Grant is a favourite writer of mine, and a great writer of Batman. Arthur Ranson is one of the finest artists to have come out of Britan, and has done quite a bit of work on 2000AD and related titles in recent years. I've included a link to his entry on wikipedia, which should fill you in more about him: Sadly, though it's not mentioned in the article, I believe he hasn't been too well lately. I hope that he recovers. He draws a mean Batman and Phantom Stranger.

Forever said...

I bought this last week, and managed to stop myself reading it before the planned Sunday morning - today!

Fantastic art by the incredible Arthur Ranson. MUCH-MUCH-MUCH too short though. Next, I'll be buying the Button Man graphic novels.

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