The Phantom Strikes #1 From the Shadow of a Ghost is now available from Lightning Strike Comics, and as the first issue of a new series from a new publisher, ChronicleChamber is very proud to be able to preview it for all readers.
As you can plainly see, Oisen Roche's cover features a sleek athletic Phantom, seemingly drawing on the original Ray Moore physique that is much more realistic than the "condom full of walnuts" style that many modern artists tend to favour. Some phans may question the unusual mask design or even the lights in the skull cave, but we think that many more will like it. The way Hero has been drawn is amazing. Horses are notoriously difficult to depict well, yet Oisen has grasped the dramatic pose as a perfect counter-point to the otherwise eerie style and mood of the cover.
Author David Williams is reasonably new to the Phantom; editing Lightning Strike Comics' previous offering The Phantom: Scarlet Sapphire and writing the introduction for the Dublin Comic Con special is his only published prior involvement. However, he is undoubtedly a real talent. David cleverly captures the spirit of the character and has clearly prepared well to write in the universe. He even brings back an old school Lee Falk villain ... or does he? Use of time shift and scene movement may throw some readers briefly to begin with, but it is all brought together logically.
The artwork of Alex Saviuk is exactly what we would expect of a seasoned Phantom artist. He knows how to draw the man in purple, his jungle scenes are complex, and the full page spreads are spectacular. Alex's experience means that he remembers all the little details, like the Chain of Patience on the Skull Throne for example. The colouring from Ashwin Chacko sets the tone of each page and is both vibrant and stunning.
We particularly love the sequences, sometimes a page at a time, without any dialogue. David shows that he is able to tell a story without needing to use words, and allows Alex as artist to carry the narrative. The panel on page six of the Phantom on Hero is inspiring, and his action fighting scenes with a special enemy flows delightfully.
When you do get your copy, make sure you go on an Easter Egg hunt and see if you can see the sneaky references Alex has inserted onto a few pages.
One element that we here at ChronicleChamber were quite impressed with was the way that the team has portrayed Diana Palmer. Like us, many phans get a bit tired with a recent trend of Diana being always captured and needing the Phantom to bail her out. She is an adventurer, a karate Black Belt and an Olympic diver: Diana can handle herself. David gets this and writes her accordingly. Likewise, Alex has drawn her as a strong character. Indeed, some readers may notice that she almost looks a little like the sister of Mary Jane Watson from Alex's Spider-Man work. She is certainly a far cry from the dainty and scantily clad sex symbol that has appeared in other published work recently.
One decision some phans will question was the choice of symbol for the roughnecks. We look forward to the team at Lightning Strikes exploring that. Some dialogue choices may seem a little odd to long-time phans but would appear to be designed to introduce new readers to the characters. Another very minor observation would be that, while we were delighted to see Old Jungle Sayings appear in the dialogue, it would be great to have them referenced as such in a narration box.
Without spoiling the tale, we can say that while it is useful for readers to have read Scarlet Sapphire, it is certainly not essential. From the Shadow of a Ghost works quite well as the start of a series in its own right. Some readers may complain that there was not enough action for them, but we predict that this will correct itself as we get into the meat of the story in parts 2 & 3.
Overall this is a very impressive comic to launch a new story and series. It gives issue 2 big shoes to fill to keep this series alive, but from all the works they've produced over the last few years we have great faith in the small Irish publisher Lightning Strike Comics.
Jermayn: 4 Good Marks out of 5 Stephen: 3 Good Marks out of 5 Dan: 4 Good Marks out of 5
The team at ChronicleChamber thanks Eoin McAuley and Lightning Strike Comics for the advance digital copy of issue #1 for this preview. However, please note all comments are our own independent thoughts and we were not paid in any way.