Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Phantom Stranger (Vol.4) #4 - March 2013

"Abduction" by Dan Didio, J.M. DeMatteis, Brent Anderson, Phillip Tan, and Rob Hunter.

This issue of The Phantom Stranger opens with one of the most monumental decisions the man has ever had to make:

The Stranger, known in this existence as Philip, is out shopping with his wife. He frets over his two children, even though they are currently being babysat by a teenager named Chris. After checking in on them, his wife shoves Philip into a dressing room, where what awaits him is more than just trying on some clothes:
John Constantine, an old associate (if not friend, exactly) of the Stranger's, asks him to consider joining Justice League Dark, which is "a pretty impressive lot", by his estimation.
The Stranger does not agree, and starts to leave. Frankenstein and then Deadman try to stop him, much to their chagrin. After dismissing the rest of his team, Constantine talks to the Stranger alone, and lays out his case more directly. He argues that the Stranger is making all sorts of cosmic enemies--Raven, Trigon, etc.--and that he and his team have to clean up the mess. He then pulls out his trump card: a coin, the missing coin the Stranger needs to be free of his curse. The Stranger asks for the coin, but Constantine refuses, disappearing into the darkness.
The Stranger returns to the other reality, to find his wife gone. Using his powers, he returns home, to find:
The Stranger then sends out a mystic net, searching for his family, and he finds nothing--they could be alive, dead, or hidden in some hidden pocket of existence. The Stranger swears he will find them, but his thoughts are interrupted by Pandora, who tells him she does not know what has happened to his family. 

But she does suggest that first on the list of suspects who might know is:
sg be continued!

I'm happy to say that, IMO, this new Phantom Stranger series is getting better issue by issue. After a rocky first issue or two, the team of Didio and Anderson found a nice groove that was distinct from a lot of the other New 52 books, one that I thought fit the character quite well while also doing something new with him. Sure, there's lots of dark and grim goings-on, but it doesn't feel gratuitous or out of place; and working in the JLD makes perfect sense.
I've mentioned on this blog before how much I've enjoyed J.M. DeMatteis' take on The Phantom Stranger, and I've long been a fan of the man's work (he had a brief run on Aquaman that I still consider one of the best in the Sea King's history). So I'm thrilled that he's come on board, and I look forward to seeing what JMD can do with the Stranger now that he's more than a guest-star in someone else's book!

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