Saturday, November 15, 2014

"There's all kinds of ghosts. I'm not one who particularly likes to show off." The Phantom#1 review

At the same time I was in the shop to pick up Q2: The Return of Quantum & Woody#1, I saw something else on the stands which seemed to be the perfect companion: The Phantom#1 from Hermes Press.

I had thought the Phantom's rights were currently tied up with Dynamite Entertainment, but somehow Hermes - who have been reprinting the character's earlier comic strip & comic book adventures - have landed this limited series. And its connection to Quantum & Woody? It's drawn by Sal Velluto, Priest's longest (and greatest) collaborator on Marvel's Black Panther. Also, I suppose, the author is Peter David, whom Priest helped get started in comics. There, I've played my "six degrees of Priest" game.

Being a Peter David-scripted comic book, you can expect the characters will mouth glib dialogue; they do. Being a Sal Velluto-drawn comic book, you can also expect lushly-rendered scenery and believeable people; they are. It appears to be set during the same timeframe as the original comic strips (not having read the early strips, I wouldn't know for sure). The Phantom's wife Diana is a major character, giving David the kind of strong female lead he enjoys writing. All the trappings of the Phantom are here: the jungles, the pirates, the unapologetically garish purple bodysuit (compare to how ashamed the 2009 TV movie was of his visual), the horse Hero and wolf Devil - and there's someone lurking in the periphery of the story who might be Tarzan (or a Tarzan analog).

Velluto remains a gorgeous artist, here providing his own inks; the two-page recount of the Phantom's origin is, on its own, a triumph. I'm very pleased to see both Priest & Velluto on the stands again (even if they aren't together) and I'll be interested to see where this Phantom mini series goes.

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