The Phantom Forever!

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I’ve always had a soft spot for the Phantom, also known as “The Ghost Who Walks,” and “The Man Who Cannot Die ”  A lesser known rather retro comic hero who was kind of a Batman of the jungle, the Phantom (alias Kit Walker) usually fought crime and evil in the company of his white horse, Hero, and his trained wolf, Devil…all while wearing a skin-tight purple suit rather well!  Not that many guys can wear purple and pull it off without looking like Prince, especially in the jungle where Tarzan was probably better attired for the climate. The Phantom was the first comic hero to wear such an outfit, however, as well as the mask which fails to reveal the underlying pupils.

Now the sea may have belonged to Aquaman, but the Phantom ruled the jungle rather well, which was admittedly strange for a white guy wearing purple. The Phantom pulled it off, however, having a cool heritage with an ancestry going back several centuries to 1536 when pirates caused the shipwreck of the original Phantom. The current-day Phantom was then actually the latest in a long succession (21) of dudes in purple, the previous generations of which were all tidily buried in the Skull Cave, kind of the Wayne Manor of the franchise.  The Phantom line kind of traded on the reputation of their supposed immortality, wearing a skull ring without being Goth about it; said ring left a skull imprint upon those slugged by it. The Phantom otherwise has no superpowers, but is simply a superb athlete, marksman, and martial artist who can get along with the pygmy poison people…

Now the Phantom legend and lore is far more extensive than this, but suffice it to say that it managed to be both cornball and cool at the same time, a strange mix of yet oddly appealing elements that not surprisingly has never translated terribly well to either film or the small screen. Originally created by Lee Falk in 1936, efforts to re-make the character have been less than successful but will continue in 2015.  I hope that the “Guardian of the Eastern Dark” continues to be “rough on roughnecks” (old jungle saying)…

 

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4 Comments on “The Phantom Forever!”

  1. carycomic Says:

    Personally, I thought the Billy Zane version (co-starring Kristy “the original BTVS” Swanson) was quite faithful to both the Golden Age comic strip Phantom and his Charlton Comics counterpart of the early Seventies!

    • carycomic Says:

      But, the movie didn’t do that well at the box office. Which means most of its target audience (the 13-25 crowd) probably-yet-mistakenly thought it was a “rip-off” (note the sarcastic quotes) combination of Indiana Jones and the Michael Keaton Batman. When, in fact, this classic Lee Falk character chronologically debuted in between ERB’s Tarzan and Bob Kane’s Batman!

  2. carycomic Says:

    Then, you should try to latch on to the current incarnations of both. I understand Dynamite Entertainment is soon coming out with trade paperback compilations of their DEFENDERS OF THE EARTH mini-series from last year.*

    *Starring, of course, Mandrake, Lothar, the Phantom, and Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon!


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