One of the more hotly anticipated productions celebrating The Phantom’s 80th Anniversary is Tales of the Ghost Who Walks, a commemorative issue released at the Dublin Comic Con over the weekend of August 6th and 7th. This special one-off edition is licensed by King Features Syndicate and proudly pays tribute to the legacy of The Phantom.
Readers looking for the warmly familiar and oft reprinted artistic stylings of Wilson McCoy and Sy Barry, or even the more modern artists like Alex Saviuk and Sal Velutto, may be disappointed; however for those keen to see something new, this represents a Phantom that harkens to the traditional but also embraces the now.
The 20-page comic book features 6 original stories and two articles as well as reprinting The Phantom's origin strip from 1936 by creator Lee Falk and art by Ray Moore. In this sense it is a little reminiscent of the recent Hermes Free Comic Book Day issues in that it gathers a series of short stories, but it's important to remember that this is 95% new and original work.
The special edition ties in with an initiative by Dublin Comic Con to showcase the work of previously unpublished local comic book creators. Those who have contributed to the production of the magazine have either never had their work published before or have only self-published under 500 units of their work.
Original short stories, strips and article content have been provided by: Cian Tormey, Johnny McMonagle, Arif Iqbal, David McDonagh, Ashwin Chacko, Karl O'Rowe, Chris O'Halloran, Stephen Carey, Danny McLaughlin, Roisin Young, Basil Lim, Dave Williams, Derek Keogh, Sean Hill, John O'Reilly, Jerry Higgins and Sinead O'Neill. The project was coordinated by Lightning Strike Comics Publisher Eoin McAuley in association with Dublin Comic Con.
Chronicle Chamber has been lucky enough to be sent a review copy of the comic and in a word, it looks phantastic.
The cover art by Basil Lim is striking even in our low resolution review copy. The Phantom descending through the Skull Cave into the Crypt is a powerful image.
Moore’s origin strip on page 1 and the short introduction from David Williams sets a tone of respect for our beloved hero, with this reviewer getting a small lump in the throat at the thought of The Phantom dynasty representing the “purest view of a hero, one who does it knowing there is no victory in their lifetime.”
Without spoiling the plots of the various stories throughout the comic, it is fair to say that there is something here for every phan:
The Magician’s Hoard has an urban Phantom using “Stealth. Patience. And vicious cunning” to overcome a most unlikely named villain, who is seeking to use the world’s relics (including those from the Skull Cave) to harness forces of darkness.
On The Phantom’s Trial (difficult to read in our low res review edition) seems to showcase the character through a series of historical flashpoints.
The Collector uses the familiar Falk trope of a jungle explorer who refuses to believe in The Phantom or Old Jungle Sayings, before discovering that not every urban legend is as fanciful as Bigfoot or The Jersey Devil.
The Wolf Who Walks provides for a spectacular if short (one page) look at what Devil gets up to between adventures with his purple-suited master.
Pirates of the Ether is another brief story, only four panels, but should delight those phans who have always wondered where The Phantom’s oath leaves him standing on Internet piracy.
Trouble at Sea is a far more traditional view of The Phantom, battling Singh pirates and destroying their galleon. Closing out the comic, this story cleverly reinforces the message from the introduction that The Phantom’s journey is one that will never end: “the pirates may be stopped for today, but there will be more tomorrow”
The six stories are broken up through the comic by two short editorial style articles, a biography of the great Lee Falk and a history of King Features Syndicate. While these contain very little that would be new for die-hard Phantom phreaks, they certainly put the character into historical perspective "for those who came in late".
With very diverse artistic styles across the six stories, and the clever, respectfully written short scripts, this 80th Anniversary issue is bound to be a hit and highly desirable with collectors worldwide.
Following its release at Dublin Comic Con, and while limited stock lasts, copies of The Phantom 80th Anniversary will be made available internationally from The Phantom's Vault: http://www.phantomsvault.com.au/pre-order-dublin-comic-con-80th-anniversary-comic/ Cover price is €5, but it remains to be seen what exchange rates, import costs and postage will add to this price for Phantom’s Vault customers.
All proceeds of the sale of the comic will be donated to three children's hospitals in Dublin, Ireland; Temple Street, Crumlin and Tallaght Hospital, a worthy project that we’re sure all phans can get behind.
For more information on Dublin Comic Con please visit: www.dublincomiccon.com