Friday, November 23, 2012

The Phantom Stranger (Vol.4) #2 - Jan. 2013

"Visitations" by Dan Didio, Brent Anderson, and Phillip Tan.

In a small Long Island town, the man we know as The Phantom Stranger watches a Little League soccer game:

As the game progresses, the Stranger sees the ghostly visage of the being known as Pandora appear on the field. The Stranger excuses himself to his wife and assumes his familiar look and confronts her. After initially threatening him--which the Stranger ignores--Pandora reveals the real reason she's here: she needs the Stranger's help:
Pandora disappears, leaving the Stranger back with his family. They go home, and as the Stranger's wife gives the kids a bath, he concerns himself with more pressing matter. Namely, the presence of the demon Belial, son of Trigon, who is waiting for the Stranger in the living room!
Belial seems to like the Stranger on a personal level, talking with him in a conversational tone. But then Belial reminds the Stranger that he and his brothers will not be as easy to deal with as Raven:

The Stranger returns to his family, determined to protect them. He answers the phone, and on the other end of the line is a name very familiar to old-time Phantom Stranger fans--Dr. Terrance Thirteen!
Dr. Thirteen has been cataloging every single instance of supernatural incidents across the globe, but now realizes that his investigations have him in over his head. He needs help from the Stranger to save him from a being known as The Haunted Highwayman, who arrives bathed in hellfire riding a coal-black horse. The Stranger and the Highwayman do battle, which leads to the Stranger throttled by the Highwayman's noose. He then points to Dr. Thirteen, claiming he will be next!

Meanwhile, we are back at the diner the Stranger and Raven were in last issue, with a man asking questions of the diner's owner, questions about what happened to the two people. The man is...Jim Corrigan! To be continued!

I liked this issue quite a bit; the (re)introduction of Dr. Thirteen is a nice touch, and the art combo of Brent Anderson and Philip Tan is coming together. Giving the Stranger a family adds a necessary human element, although right now they're really more of a plot device than fleshed out characters at this point. I fear they're going to have a lot of sadness in their future.

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