We are back with Lee Falk’s other classic comic creation “The Phantom.” Again, I first meet the Phantom as part of the “Defenders of the Earth” cartoon series.
His character has changed a little, but not too much like with Mandrake, Lee’s other contribution to adventure comics. The Phantom is actually the worlds first masked superhero. Starting in this volume in 1936, he was the first to don the cowl and fight crime in the name of vigilante justice.
You can get it on Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Phantom-Complete-Newspaper-1936-1937/dp/1932563415
In this collection we are first led to believe that Jimmy Wells is the Phantoms rich alter ego, but this is quickly thrown aside and Jimmy soon disappears from the series as the Phantom and his unique origin take center stage. This is one case where Lee Falk was willing to make a change and because of that, I think it is the real reason why the Phantom has stood the test of time and become the iconic character that he is. If he had been the rich playboy, I think he would have soon been forgotten as he would have blended in with the Shadow and Batman all sharing the same concept.
This collection 1936-1937 takes us through several continuous adventures and gives us the origin story of the Phantom and the legends associated wit it. Do not be put off by the bad movie which was made from the series:
This was a really bad concept from the beginning and does not do the Phantom justice. So let’s pretend that never happened and just look at the comics for now.
They hold up surprisingly well for golden age comics from the 30’s. They are action packed and keep the reader riveted. It takes it’s pacing from the old serial movies and the creative use of air pirates as well as the mysteries of the jungle really do well to set the mood for the series.
The Phantom is one of the best adventure comics out there and a really good superhero comic, although he doesn’t manifest any real super powers until years later. In this collection the Phantom is just a man determined to rid the world of piracy and fulfill his families destiny as the Phantom. The “power of 10 tigers” stuff came much later. So ignore the movie and enjoy the comic, I just picked up the 2nd volume, there are 8 out so far, the third can only be bought used and is selling for $120 for some reason, so my collection will remain at 2 until a reprint is issued. Check it out and enjoy one of the great adventure series and the worlds first masked superhero. Until next time True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.