The 30th issue of India's Regal Publishers Phantom comics was released on 10th May 2023. While it was released on time, it took quite long for the Indian Postal service to deliver it to me. And thus, this review was delayed. The Phantom stories are:
"Return of the Thuggees" by Lee Falk and Sy Barry
"The Shipwreckers" by Donne Avenell, Claes Reimerthi, George Olesen, and Fred Fredericks
This issue features a nice looking cover by Ankit Mitra. A printout of the cover artwork, in black and white, is given for free with it. While it is meant for colouring, it doesn't seem much attractive and feels like a letdown compared to their previous freebies (bookmarks,poster,card, etc.) I would have been fine with a bookmark as it was not done for a while. Still, it was good for them to try something different.
This comic book, like the previous two, is softcover with a perfect binding. It has the same laminated cover printed on a thick paper. However, the quantity of pages have been reduced. This issue only has 96 pages. It also still doesn't have any title printed on the spine.
The book features two stories. First one being the 136th Sunday story 'Return of the Thuggees' written by Lee Falk and illustrated by Sy Barry and the second one being the 152nd Sunday story 'The Shipwreckers' written by Donne Avenell (For Fantomen) and Claes Reimerthi (adapted for the strip) and illustrated by George Olsen and Fred Fredericks.
The story 'Return of the Thuggees' is most notably the longest running phantom Sunday story till date.
Because of being this long, it covers most of the book. This story was coloured for Regal by Simi Muhamma, who seems to have become Regal's main colourist now as he has coloured most number of stories. While that is great, I still am not much of a phan of his colouring. His colouring shows inconsistency as the shadows and other effects he tries to put into the colouring remains discontinued in most of the panels and pages. It can be understood more from the video review.
The second story 'The Shipwreckers' was notably the first Sunday story not written by Lee Falk and the first of the three Team Fantomen stories adapted to strip format. It also was the last story illustrated by George Olsen and Fred Fredericks.
It is nice story with some nice artwork. Even though the artwork pretty much bare the signs of Olsen and Fredericks not being at their best. It is also interesting to mention that Kari Leppänen, who illustrated the story first for team Fantomen, cites this story as plagiarism of his artwork.
Both stories are printed nicely by Regal on glossy paper. While the paper is not thick, the thick cover makes up for it as it sits nicely on the shelf (even though it lacks a title printed on the spine).
Regal seems to be loving this softcover perfect binding format as they have been putting out more and more books with it. However, as much it is great to have these softcover books, I miss the the normal comic issues with two stories each. Those issues are more appealing in my opinion.
Regal has been doing a good job with their products so far. If they listen to the Phan suggestions and complaints, they will be able to continue to deliver great comics. I wish them best on their next ventures.
All Regal reviews will be included in our monthly X-Band: The Phantom Podcasts. You can find out more at our website and or subscribe to our YouTube channel for more videos.