The current Daily Newspaper story written by Tony DePaul and drawn by Bret Blevins is titled "The Chain" and references a previous 1953 Sunday newspaper story with the same title. We understand that some phans may have not read this story yet so here is our attempt to update you so you can enjoy or dislike what Tony and Bret are doing having read the original story.
Throughout this video we will show the whole story so you can read and follow on the adventure Tony and Bret are taking us.
The story has appeared in 16 countries in either comic or newspaper format including Australia, Brazil, Canada, the Scandinavian countries, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, UK, the Philippines and of course USA.
The plot goes as:
When the current Phantom loses patience with some warring tribes and is on the verge of giving up, an old warrior is forced to tell him the story of the Chain that hangs on the Skull Throne. Many years before, so the story goes, the future wife of his father (so his future mother) was traveling to Bengali on board a steam ship, when she came across some unwelcome attention from a violent and oppressive Misty Mountain prince named Prince Hakon.
She had no interest in the prince, telling him that she loved another and was on her way to be married. He became enraged and upon arrival in Bengali, he had her kidnapped and taken to his highland palace. She refused to marry him, so he kept her locked in a cell until she changed her mind. Upon hearing of the kidnapping, the Phantom rides to the highland kingdom and attempts a rescue, however, due to his rage he rushes things and is captured by the palace guards.
Instead of imprisoning or executing the Phantom, the Prince instead puts him to work pushing a mill in plain view of his fiance's cell. With each turn of the mill, the Phantom notices that the chain catches a little, scraping against stone, weakening the links. Month after month the Phantom labors, knowing that with each turn, he comes closer to freedom.
This story is much loved by many a phan with a touching love story and a great moral learnt that even the Phantom needs to learn or re learn at times and maybe this i what resonates with many readers.
Majority of phans love this story however what is surprising to many is that the chain on the throne has only been seen once in a newspaper adventure. Since this adventure in the newspapers it was seen once on a cover and once in the Avon novel. Then it was never seen again in any form of mediums until 1996 with the movie, then a cover in 2007 and then a story in 2008. Since then it has appeared a few more times.
What happened to the chain? Did Diana re arrange her husbands house and got rid of the chain as it did not match her vision? I know my wife "moved" and has "missplaced" several of my items and clothes when we got married.
Tony DePaul has on the record said about the chain that he will deconstruct this story and strike it from the lore. The obvious question is, why?
Tony DePaul see's his role as improving on the newspaper strip and ensuring it lasts longer than him, us and you. A good attitude to have.
Without speaking for Tony, I can see he has problems with the way the Phantom is portrayed in this story. In the first week of the new story, the Phantom in the original Lee Falk story is portrayed as a stranger, an ignoramus, a selfish overgrown toddler with an ego that wouldn't quit, a manbaby, a jerk, a buffoon and someone with a dumb plan - in fact both the 20th and 21st Phantom have dumb plans.
On top of all of that, there is Woru who tells the story - maybe he was an earlier prototype version of Old Man Mozz. However if there was an important message to be given, why not use a Chronicle? The Chronicle Chamber was created by then and shown in past stories.
The potential main problem is the way the original writer (most likely Lee Falk) portrayed the Africans in this story. They behave almost as childish as the Phantom with the Phantom needing to behave as a Lord over them. We see him banging their heads together because they continued to fight. Yes, this was 70 years ago and there are many Phantom stories that may look average in today's world but Lee Falk was always a fighter for human rights and this story does not fit with his prior actions.
I have a theory that Lee Falk did not write this story. Through out the 1940's when away for war, he used Alfred Bester as a ghost writer. With the Avon novels in the 1970's, 7 at least were written by someone else. There is history that ghost writers have wrote for him prior and I suspect this is another case - it reads unlike Lee Falk.
The only thing that I think most remember about this story is that the chain symbolised perseverance and that there is always a way out of dire circumstances. Maybe that is our rose tinted glasses putting their filters up. Maybe we better take them off and give it another read?
Could Tony, leave the moral of the story and remove the poor portrayal of the Phantom? Only time will tell...