(Editors Note: This review was originally published in the Sydvesten newspaper - shown right on 21 October 2021. Used with permission and translated by Kristian Hellesund)
The Phantom is back at the newsagents’. Egmont has released an annual (original announcement here).
In the meantime two trade paperbacks have been published, except for these two the Norwegian comic readers have not seen new material with The Ghost who Walks until now. Out now at shops is a new Phantom annual comic - printed landscape (or horizontally).
The first impression is it is very good printed om nice paper and excellent printing.
The new story is a modern Sunday story called "The Spy Ship" by Tony DePaul (script) and Jeff Weigel (art). We go into the past and learn earlier unknown glimpse into the history of generations of Phantoms and the Vault of Missing Men. The story ends at the battle of Trafalgar, where the Phantom plays a role. As a story it is somewhat slow going, but there are many seeds to future possible stories that are sowed and it will be interesting to see if these will be created.
The horizontal format is excellent for Sunday pages, and the presentation of "The Spy Ship" is so much better than in the newest Swedish Fantomen comic magazine. In the Fantomen magazine the story is published in a vertical format which is better suited for daily strips.
The other story printed in the annual is a classic daily strip story, "The Drums of Timpenni" by Lee Falk (script) and Sy Barry (art). This story has already been printed several times in Norway, in my opinion it would much better to use this publication to only present new material.
The story has been both coloured and retranslated. From my point of view, I prefer daily Phantom strips in black and white, just like the artist originally intended it. The colouring was done by Ivan Pedersen and is the same that was in the recent Frew issue #1895.
My biggest problem with the annual is that the daily strips have not been edited for this publication and the overall presentation is not good. Have a look at the below image comparing the layout of the Fantomen annual with a previous publication, it shows the page gutters are too large. Another Sunday story in this landscape annual format would have worked better in my opinion.
It is good to see a comic book with new Phantom material on the stands. Let us hope this sells well and that there are more comic books coming up.