Posts tagged ‘Phantom Stranger’

alternate Action 642 – Green Lantern/Superman – Legend of the Green Flame

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I made an error earlier, I said this was intended for Action 635.  In fact, it was for 642.  I had assumed it was the earlier of the two crossover issues, simply based on the line-up that appears in the story – none of the post-635 series are included.  But the ending makes it clear that it was for the latter issue.

Neil Gaiman’s script was rejected by John Byrne.  At the time, it was a hard and fast rule that no one knew Superman’s identity, and Gaiman insisted on the characters meeting as Clark and Hal.  Neither would budge, and the script got set aside.  The story was finally published in 2001.

This special also has a large art team, divided chapter by chapter.  Eddie Campbell, Mark Buckingham, John Totleben, Jim Aparo, Kevin Nowlan, Jaosn Little, Michael Allred, Eric Shanower, Terry Austin and Arthur Adams.

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The story begins with a prologue in Berlin, shortly after the end of World War II.  Blackhawks Janos Prohaska and Weng Chan go rooting through rubble, searching for a lost weapon.  They come across the remains of the Justice Society of America, although they do not realize who these people are.  We see Sandman, and the remains of Hawkman’s wings, but it’s Alan Scott’s lantern that grabs Weng’s interest, and he takes it with him.

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Jumping to the present day, Hal is feeling lost and alone, and turns to Clark for a shoulder to cry on.  Lois Lane wrangles the two into attending a gallery opening that night.

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Catwoman makes a cameo, running into Hal.  But the catkin emerald she was interested in is not there, so Selina leaves.  Exploring the gallery, Hal comes across the lantern, on display.  He is fascinated.  It’s a Green Lantern lantern, but not one he recognizes.  He uses his ring to scan it.

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Bad idea.

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Deadman comes across the confused heroes, and tells them they are dead.  They aren’t.  Not quite.  But they have been pulled into the magical, somewhat sentient flame that powers Alan Scott’s lantern, and are between being alive and dead.

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The Flame’s burst of energy draws the attention of the Phantom Stranger.

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He convinces Hal that he does have the willpower to tame the wild magic of the flame, and get it back into its battery, dormant.

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The final page makes it clear that this was intended for issue 642.  The story printed there uses a similar marquee in its background.

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Action 641 – The Demon and Phantom Lady end, a Human Target story, Superman makes peace, the Phantom Stranger and Wild Dog end

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Superman gets the cover of the final issue of Action Comics Weekly to feature multiple stories, issue 641.

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Morgan le Fay finds herself attacked by both Jason Blood and Etrigan in this final story by Grant, Pacella and Wray.  Jason has her severed hand, which he throws right in her face.  Etrigan’s demon fire is more useful, but less humiliating.

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But Glenda and Randu are now trapped in Hell, with Jason determined to find them, just as Merlin’s torturer planned.

The story continues in the Demon’s own book, which begins in a few months.

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Phantom Lady confronts her father in the final chapter of her series, by Strazewski, Austen and Martin.  The photo shows Dee Tyler’s father as a young man, participating in lynching a black boy.

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The father explains the circumstances of the photograph, and being dragged into the lynching against his will.

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Dee understands her father’s explanation, so all is well between them.  But a blinded Guerreheart vows revenge.

Phantom Lady does not get another solo series, but is next seen not too long down the road in the pages of Starman.

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Mark Waid, Curt Swan and Dick Giordano share a fun little Human Target story, in which Christopher Chance takes the place of an Adam West-type actor, on a tv series clearly based on the old Batman show.

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This story may well have been sitting in the DC files for a while.  A Human Target story from many years earlier ended announcing a story with this title in the following issue, which never got printed.

The Human Target next appears in a one-shot special, corresponding to his short-lived tv series.

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Superman’s tale of anger against Quraci immigrants comes to an end in this chapter, by Stern, Swan and Anderson.  Unfortunately, Superman uses the lame reasoning that everyone in North America is an immigrant, an argument usually used by white supremacists against native rights.

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Kupperberg and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez give the Phantom Stranger a final story, as a young boy manifests the power to make his wishes reality.  Never a good thing, when an impulsive child can make their slightest whim come true.

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The Phantom Stranger triumphs over the boy, making him realize how deadly his actions are to those he loves.  But the Stranger also implies that he will force a control over the boy’s power, to prevent this happening again.

Phantom Stranger continues to appear regularly in both the Spectre and Swamp Thing.

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Collins, Beatty and Nyberg bring the Wild Dog story to a close, as he follows the drug chain to the top of the corporate ladder.

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Although the story makes nothing of this, one cannot help but notice that the dealers in direct contact are black, while the ones running it from above are white, exploiting those below them.  Not that this makes much difference to Wild Dog, who mows down everyone in the meeting room.

Wild Dog does not return for about a decade, showing up next in the Lobo series.

 

Action 636 – Speedy and the Demon begin, the Phantom Stranger crushed by jazz, the villain in Superman revealed, Phantom Lady debuts, and Wild Dog returns

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The Phantom Stranger is the one series that appears in Action 636 that does not make it onto the cover. Gotta feel bad for him.

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Speedy finally moves into how own series, by Mark Verheiden and Louis Williams. The story begins with a brief recap of his early life, time with Green Arrow, and heroin addiction.

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Roy needs a job to support him and Lian, and gets hired by a private investigator.  He begins his hunt for a missing person.

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Alan Grant, Mark Pacella and Bill Wray begin a Demon story, which follows events from his mini-series, with the death of Harry Matthews.

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Jason Blood no longer wants anything to do with the Demon.  He wanders around blaming Etrigan for everything in his life.

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A woman’s child gets possessed, and she calls Jason to help.  Though he doesn’t want to, he goes.  He tries to exorcise the child himself, but fails.

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So he does the only thing he can, and invokes Etrigan.

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Andy Kibert joins Paul Kupperberg for a Phantom Stranger story that deals with the black musicans ruthlessly exploited by the white music industry. The protagonist is an elderly man, playing on the street for coins, whose recordings had made a company rich.  When he encounters his old “partner” on the street, and the man ignores him, the musician seeks out vengeance.

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It’s scary and sad, and beautifully rendered.  In the end, the man doesn’t want millions, he just wants respect.

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Stern, Swan and Anderson reveal that both sides of the Superman-as-god forces have been backed, and the powers and technology given, by Darkseid.

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Dee Tyler, the new Phantom Lady makes her debut in this story by Lex Strazewski, Chuck Austen and Gary Martin.  Dee has just graduated from an elite finishing school for women in Paris, which seems to be run by Sandra Knight, the origins Phantom Lady. Certainly, Dee has learned a lot more than math.

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She returns home to Washington DC to discover that her father, the Attorney General, is under a lot of pressure, and criminal forces are involved.

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Collins, Beatty and Nyberg return along with Wild Dog, for his third storyline of the run.  This one is a very anti-drug story, centring on a young street kid.

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Wild Dog finds the boy work which is honest, but dull and low-paying.  A teenage gangster offers him big bucks to deliver drugs.

 

 

Action 634 – Green Lantern vs Malvolio, the real Cassandra Craft, Black Canary, Nightwing & Speedy, and Blackhawk end

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Very good Green Lantern cover on Action 634.

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Malvolio continues his domination of Green Lantern in this chapter.

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The two fight through this chapter, and though Green Lantern has the upper hand as it ends, his victory is not certain.  Only this and the Superman story continue into the next issue.

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Kupperberg and Carillo, bring the Phantom Stranger four-parter to a close with this issue.  Tannarak and Tala watch with glee as the Phantom Stranger battles with the cat creature, which drains his power.

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Dr. Thirteen gets to be the hero, killing the cat creature and freeing the Stranger.  Tala vanishes, as the Stranger defeats Tannarak.  Cassandra Craft returns from wherever.

While the Phantom Stranger does return later in Action Comics Weekly, Tala, Tannarak and Dr. Thirteen next are seen in the Books of Magic miniseries. Cassandra Craft has to wait many years, appearing next in Grant Morrison’s Zatanna miniseries, part of Seven Soldiers.

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Wright, DuBurke and Marcos bring to an end the story of a mother’s vengeance for a daughter dead from HIV, going after those who may have been responsible for her husband’s infection.

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It’s a lot of really intense fighting, and the art is superb on it.

Far better than the first Black Canary storyline, this one still did not manage to be the series that the reader’s wanted.  While Dinah would continue as a supporting character in Green Arrow, she would get a miniseries of her own in a couple of years.

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Wilkerson and Mandrake put Nightwing and Speedy through a lot of legal hassles as their team-up ends.  At least Nightwing gets an equal share of it.  Justice prevails, somewhat.  The implicated British lord goes free, but is brought down by other troubles.

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The best page of this entire storyline is the last, as Roy and Dick hang out with Lian and Starfire.  Nightwing continues in New Teen Titans, while Speedy returns in his own storyline, under his own name, in a couple of issues.

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Pasko and Burchett bring the Blackhawk story to a quick and violent end.  The one undrugged Backhawk gets control of the plane, and Janos gets control of himself as they land, and seek the fake Darabont, who escaped with the LSD and the formula.

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They get her, and the formula, and the Nazi base, which they leave in ruins.

The one big hit from Action Comics Weekly, Blackhawk moves into is own book right away.

 

 

Action 633 – Green Lantern runs from Malvolio, Black Canary finds the torture chamber, Nightwing and Speedy come back to the US, Cassandra’s secret revealed, and the Blackhawks trip out

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Blackhawk gets a nice retro cover on Action 633.

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Lord Malvolio comes hunting for Green Lantern in this story by Owsley, Bright and Tanghal.  Malvolio’s power level is staggeringly higher than Lantern’s, and Hal flees.

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He finds a golden spaceship, people by creatures who know Priest, and are visibly of the same races from that storyline.  Malvolio destroys the ship and everyone on it, except Green Lantern.

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Black Canary is on the trail of the actress, as are the cops, as Wright, DuBurke and Marcos take the story to its darkest chapter.

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Black Canary finds the torture chamber that the Deb had been held, and killed, in.

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Nightwing and Speedy return to the US in this chapter of Wilkerson and Mandrake’s tale.  Thye get picked up right away by the CBI guy who had fired Speedy right at the start.

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They trust him, which is dumb, as he simply is setting them up.

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The Phantom Stranger struggles against the cat-creature in the third chapter of Kupperberg and Carillo’s story.  Cassandra Craft and Dr. Thirteen hover at the edges of the story,although Cassandra gets threatened by Tannarak.

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But by that point, the Stranger has caught an error Cassandra made, and realized that this is not really his former flame, but Tala.

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The Nazi impostor dons a parachute and jumps ship as the Blackhawks deal with LSD in this chapter of Pasko and Buchett’s story.

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It’s the best installment of the story, as the acid trips make for entertaining art.

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And the danger of it all taking place aboard an aircraft makes it perfect.

 

Action 632 – Green Lantern meets Lord Malvolio, the Phantom Stranger chases Tannarak, Black Canary in live theatre, Nightwing finally shows up, and a suspicious change of mood

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Nightwing joins Speedy not only on the cover, but even in their story in Action 632.

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Owsley, Bright and Tanghal start this Green Lantern story as he pursues the alien, but he gets pulled off course, and this plot thread is left behind as we meet a new villain.

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Lord Malvolio has a Green Lantern ring, in a period when very few did.  He seems unaware of the Guardians of the Universe, and, indeed, his costume shares similarities with that of Alan Scott, whose Green Lantern was also independent of the Guardians.

He demands that Hal serve him.  Hal, of course says no.  Malvolio gets mad.

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Tannarak threatens the Phantom Stranger, and then leads him on a merry chase in this chapter, by Kupperberg and Carillo.

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Cassandra Craft and Dr. Thirteen are right behind them, as Tannarak heads to the big cats section of the zoo, drawing the beasts to him.

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Oh no!  It’s super-cat!

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Wright, DuBurke and Marcos reveal that the killer actress has the heroin hooker as her prisoner in this Black Canary chapter, and that her motive has to do with her dead daughter.

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She is clearly losing it, and attacks Black Canary from the stage in the middle of a performance.

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Lots of double agents, bombing, and general misery in Northern Ireland in this Nightwing and Speedy story, by Wilkerson, Giarrano and Mandrake.

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Nightwing finally shows up, which is nice.  But he still manages to stay enough in the background that this is solidly a Speedy story.

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The Blackhawks are about to take a flight into madness in this chapter, by Pasko and Burchett.

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The Nazis kill Constance Darabont, replacing her with their own operative.

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When Janos comes to meet her that night, he finds a far more friendly woman than the one the team had dealt with the previous day.  As they fly off in the morning, she makes the team coffee.  Only Fredrikson is suspicious, and with good reason.  She has spiked it with LSD.

Action 631 – Captain Atom concedes, Black Canary figures something out, the Phantom Stranger’s friends and enemies, Speedy goes to the parade, and Lady Blackhawk gets taken

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The Phantom Stranger begins a four-part story in Action 631, and gets a cover appearance to celebrate that.

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Owsley, Bright and Tanghal end the team-up with Captain Atom and Green Lantern, although I wouldn’t say they resolve it, or bring it to a conclusion.

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After blasting each other, and being trounced by the alien, who escapes, Captain Atom decides that this is really more of an outer space issue than a military one, and basically gives up and leaves.  Green Lantern sets out to find the creature.

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Wright, Duburke and Marcos have a third murder in this chapter of Black Canary’s story.

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This time the actress disguises herself as a man, in order to get picked up by a gay guy, her next victim.  The man recognizes her, and knows why he is being killed, although the reader does not get informed.

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The Phantom Stranger begins a four-part story, by Paul Kupperberg and Fred Carillo, that brings back supporting characters and villains from the Phantom Stranger’s old series in the 70s.  Cassandra Craft, a blind psychic and the one-time romantic interest of the Stranger, had not been seen since appearing in Superman in the late 70s.  She gets attacked by Tala, the Phantom Stranger’s first foe, who had last appeared in the late 70s in a Phantom Stranger/Deadman team-up in the final issue of DC Super-Stars.

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Cassandra comes to see the Stranger, who is spending the evening chatting with Dr. Thirteen.  I believe his last appearance was around 1980, in his own series in the pages of Ghosts.

Cassandra tells the Stranger about Tala’s return, but then Tannarak arrives with a blast.  Another of the Stranger’s old foes, he had appeared the most recently, in the Phantom Stranger’s back-up series in Swamp Thing in the early 80s.

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Cherie Wilkerson and Tom Mandrake are joined by Vince Giaranno on pencils as Speedy solos in this supposed Nightwing and Speedy team-up.  Terrorists are on the train, but Speedy gets the little girl to safety.

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But there still is a child victim, during the Orange Day Parade, as the older sister spots a bomb, and dies getting it away from the crowd.

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Lady Blackhawk gets kidnapped as Pasko and Burchett open this story.  But Janos has no idea, being off picking up Constance Darabont.

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Darabont is cool and professional.  Janos seems to have gotten over the aviatrix, for all his mourning earlier in the story.

 

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