Thursday, May 19, 2016

Find The Phantom Stranger

Is he man or ghost?

Neither.  He is the Phantom Stranger.

Coming into being in the early 1950s, Phantom Stranger held his own title for 6 issues, from August-September, 1952 to June-July, 1953, facing off against various supernatural threats....with little hints to his origins or life when not battling the forces of mystical evil.

Those issues were hard enough to find then....but now, well, at least some of these classic tales have been reprinted!

Phantom Stranger #1 (August-September, 1952)

Phantom Stranger's first story from his first issue was "The Haunters From Beyond" by writer John Broome, penciller Carmine Infantino and inker Sy Barry, with the man of mystery helping Anne Parris, dealing with ghosts from the Salem witch trials....or are they?  Phantom Stranger is there to solve the problem....


This tale is reprinted in DC 100 Page Super-Spectacular #4 (1971) under a pretty spooky Bernie Wrightson cover, and it also includes plenty of horror and mystery reprints from House of Mystery, House of Secrets, My Greatest Adventure, Tales of the Unexpected and Sensation Mystery (including a Johnny Peril tale!)...

The second story, "When Dead Men Walk" deals with a plane crash, and how three dead men from that crash come back to deal with plans they were unable to, or so it appears until the Phantom Stranger arrives to help in this story by John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Sy Barry.

This story was reprinted in the Phantom Stranger #1 (May-June, 1969) under a cover by Bill Draut, when the Phantom Stranger was revived as a reprint title (with Dr. Thirteen reprints from Star-Spangled Comics as well, and a new teaser featuring the two characters as well.....this issue containing a story of the "ghost-breaker" from Star-Spangled Comics #125 of February, 1952), and the Phantom Stranger story was also in the Greatest 1950s Stories Ever Told hardcover from 1990 and softcover from 1992.

The last Phantom Stranger story from his 1950s first issue was "The House Of Strange Secrets" by John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella, with the Phantom Stranger helping Neal Hunter, a lost traveler who ended up being kidnapped by a dead sorceror's apprentice and trapped in a house that seems trying to kill him....or is all just an elaborate plot?  Only the Phantom Stranger and readers of this issue know...


This story was reprinted in the 1960s Phantom Stranger #2 (July-August, 1969) under a cover by Bill Draut, with a Dr. Thirteen debunking more magic in the story from Star-Spangled Comics #128 (May, 1952).



Phantom Stranger #2 (October-November, 1952)


The first story of Phantom Stranger #2 (October-November, 1952) was "The Killer Shadow" by John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Sy Barry, with the Phantom Stranger helping heiress Myra Hunter who seemed to have her shadow stolen by dark arts performed by her uncle, John Neville.  Did the girl lose her shadow, or is there a more Earthly reason for the trouble being caused to this young woman....



This story was reprinted in Brave and the Bold #98 (October-November, 1971) under a cover by Nick Cardy, with the second team-up of Batman and the Phantom Stranger as the main focus of the issue in a story by Bob Haney and Jim Aparo, and Jim Aparo would come to be closely associated with the Phantom Stranger, drawing many of his issues in the 1970s.

The second Phantom Stranger story from this issue, "Death's Strange Deputy" by John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Bernard Sachs, has the Phantom Stranger dealing with the evil Veile, who has convinced a man named Adam Horton that he is not a man, but a magical creation, and sends him to kill the local district attorney.  Thankfully, the Phantom Stranger encounters Adam, and intervenes to find out the truth.


This story was reprinted in Adventure Comics #418 (April, 1972) under a Supergirl cover by Bob Oksner, and the issue also contains a new Black Canary story, as well as an unpublished until now Golden Age Dr. Mid-Nite story!

The last of the Phantom Stranger stories of this issue is "The Three Signs of Evil" by John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella, with the Phantom Stranger facing off against members of the Moon Cult to save the life of artist Mark Davis.  The Stranger stops the cult, but disappears as Mark calls the police....

This story was reprinted in Showcase #80 (February, 1969) under a cover by Neal Adams, as a try out for what became the 41 issue Phantom Stranger series, with a Dr. Thirteen reprint (this time from Star-Spangled Comics #122 of November, 1951, the first appearance of ghost-breaker, Dr. Terrance Thirteen), and a framing sequence by Mike Friedrich, Jerry Grandenetti and Bill Draut, linking the stories, with Dr. 13 trying to debunk the Phantom Stranger.
 

Phantom Stranger #3 (December-January, 1952/1953)


The third 1950s issue of Phantom Stranger only sees one of its tales reprinted, the middle one,  with a "Dead Man's Hand" by John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Frank Giacoia, with rodeo wrangler Hank Wheeler being dealt a "dead man's hand" of Aces and Eights, and then seeing them everywhere he goes until he nearly dies....or is this all just a plot of rodeo hand, Jim Pomeroy?

This tale was reprinted in Adventure Comics #419 (May, 1972) under a Supergirl cover by Bob Oksner, with new Black Canary and Zatanna tales in the issue, as well as an Enchantress reprint.

The first and third Phantom Stranger stories from this issue, "Ghosts For Sale!" and "The Day Of Destiny!" have yet to be reprinted.

Phantom Stranger #4 (February-March, 1953)


The fourth issue of the original Phantom Stranger series only sees its first Phantom Stranger story reprinted, "The Hairy Shadows" by John Broome, Murphy Anderson and Joe Giella, with the Phantom Stranger helping ghost hunters Vic and Ellen Woods as they investigate the disappearance of Old Judd, who supposedly disappeared after a struggle with a hairy shadow.  While there, they encounter a creature from another dimension after summoning a doorway from one of Judd's old spellbooks.

This story was reprinted in House of Mystery #225 (June-July, 1974), along with a few other creepy tales...

Sadly, "The Riddle Of The Ghostly Trumpet" and "The Dream Killer" have not been reprinted.

Phantom Stranger #5 (April-May, 1953)


The first story of Phantom Stranger #5 (April-May, 1953), "The Living Nightmare" by John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Bernard Sachs, finds the Phantom Stranger helping out Samson...boxer Jerry Samson, who thinks he has a link to the historical hero.  Though Jerry does perform some good deeds, his delusion also gets him into trouble that the Phantom Stranger need to help him out of.


This story was reprinted in House of Mystery #226 (August-September, 1974) along with enough tales to curl anyone's hair, all under Cain's watchful eye with this cover by Luis Dominguez!

The second Phantom Stranger story of his issue, "The Unseen Familiar" has remained unseen since this issue.


The third Phantom Stranger story of this issue, "The Stars Screamed Danger" by John Broome, Frank Giacoia and Joe Giella, has the Phantom Stranger facing off against Vasti, a carnival mystic, who is bedeviling a local amusement park with evil apparitions.  As the Phantom Stranger investigates, he finds out that Vasti is a fraud, trying to get his hands on the park for a lower price.

This story is reprinted in Phantom Stranger #3 (September-October, 1969) under a Neal Adams cover, with another Dr. Thirteen reprint (from Star-Spangled Comics #126 of March, 1952) as well as a new connector story with the Phantom Stranger meeting Dr. Thirteen "Some Day In Some Dark Alley..." in a story by Mike Friedich and art by Bill Draut.



Phantom Stranger #6 (June-July, 1953) 


The last issue of the 1950s Phantom Stranger only finds one story reprinted, that of the last Phantom Stranger story in the issue, "Horror In Minature" by John Broome and Frank Giacoia.  The Phantom Stranger helps Pete, a night watchmen, deal with an invasion of elves from the future, using an iron sword, and gets help from photographer Tim Harley!

This story is reprinted in House of Mystery #224 (April-May, 1974) along with many other classics to chill your bones!

Sadly, the first and second Phantom Stranger stories of his sixth and last issue of the 1950s, "The Ghosts In The Locked Room" and the "Doorway In The Sky" have not been collected.

Phantom Stranger next appeared in the new story in Showcase #80 in February, 1969, which led to his 41 issue series that started with a new Phantom Stranger #1 in May-June, 1969, which had its first all new story, with the Phantom Stranger facing off against mystic menace, Tala, in Phantom Stranger #4 (November-December, 1969).

What type of magic will it take to see all these 1950s (and even all the later Phantom Strangers) reprinted in color?

2 comments:

  1. Another great job of comics history. Where is the tip jar??

    ReplyDelete
  2. Amazing and fascinating research. You make me want to go back and read all of the stories!

    ReplyDelete