Tony DePaul and Mike Manley have done what many consider the ultimate sin of showing the Phantom's eyes and face. It is such a sin that one rumour was invented that Bill Lignante was sacked by Lee Falk for drawing the eyes in a story.
The panels in question are from Monday 15th, Tuesday 16th, Wednesday 17th, Monday 22nd and Tuesday 23rd August 2022 and we have re included them below so you can catch up what is happening.
This is not the first time the eyes have been shown with many other great names Ray Moore, Bill Lignante and Graham Nolan also doing the same however this is the first time the whole face has been shown while the Phantom has been the Phantom.
Here are the examples of them showing the eyes in the past. Click the arrows to view the examples.
The only time we have previously seen the Phantom's face and eyes showing were in the two childhood stories in 1944 and 1959. It is worth noting that as soon as his father, the 20th Phantom was dying, his face and eyes started becoming shaded and hidden in both versions of the story. This tradition and lore is also followed in Team Fantomen stories with other past previous Phantom's taking over the role from their fathers and their faces shown during the process.
Attached are two examples from newspaper and Team Fantomen stories.
If you have heard or read any of Tony DePaul's comments and interviews on our platforms you would know he carefully and meticulously plans what is happening and puts in the time required to avoid careless mistakes.
A great example of his meticulously planning is Jampa's comments of wanting to retire to somewhere with warm beaches which was first mentioned back in 2016 in a Daily story and now we know how critical it was with that phrase being key to Savarna killing him which is the catalyst of this very storyline.
I saw all that because as we can see Tony is playing the long game and carefully plots the stories. What we thought may be fun is if I comment what I see is happening in every panel from a phans point of view and then we ask Tony DePaul the same from the writers point of view.
We will look at the strips from 15th and 17th August again.
Jermayn Parkers POV: In the first panel for Monday 15th August 2022, the 21st Phantom's eyes are not shown and then in the second panel, his eyes are fully shown with the face unmasked. The only times we have seen the Phantom's eyes and face unmasked is before he has sworn the oath when he is NOT the Phantom.
So its my assumption that he is no longer the Phantom seeing we can now see the eyes and face. The only way a Phantom can stop being a Phantom is by death. That means this is the death of the 21st Phantom in the possible future as told by Old Man Mozz.
Tony DePauls POV: The script asked Mike Manley for a close, full-on look at the Phantom’s unmasked face on 8/15 and again on 8/23. In all other cases, whether the eyes are open or closed is incidental to what’s going on in the panel. Or that’s how I saw it as a reader.
Jermayn Parkers POV: The death is confirmed by what the ghost of the 20th Phantom says to the 21st Phantom as he is struggling with his life flowing through his body. The ghost says "You WERE the 21st Phantom...", this is past tense that he used to be the Phantom, he is no longer the Phantom and that the current Phantom as the 21st Phantom is no longer.
Interesting that the eyes are not shown in these panels. I assume we do not see the eyes because the Phantom is attempting to stay alive and be the Phantom, hence no eyes shown.
His eyes being shown and not shown is symbolic of the life battle that is going on with the 21st Phantom at the moment.
Tony DePauls POV: On 8/17, I presume Mike Manley closed the eyes to communicate the intensity of the effort, the will, the pain tolerance required for the Phantom to get to his feet with a broken femur and a fatal bullet wound to the chest.
Once we’ve seen the unmasked face, there’s no narrative reason to see it in every panel. Hitting the reader over the head with it would devalue the effect I wanted to go for in the 8/15 and 8/23 strips.
The reader has known for over a year now that the Phantom dies in this Mozz' prophecy. That’s been a given from the day Mozz stopped the Phantom on the trail to Gravelines Prison and begged him to turn around and let Savarna die. Now that we’ve arrived at the destination Mozz foretold, I’ve been trying to confirm for the reader that this is it. When the glasses came off on on 8/8, some readers got it immediately: the Phantom’s going to die.
Then comes the unmasked face on 8/15, something never before seen in the 86-year history of the strip. A reader who’s paying attention has to get what that means.
Then on 8/17, the past tense. You were the 21st Phantom. Another signal in a series of signals on the certainty of death. It's not that he stopped being the Phantom when Manju shot him, or stopped being the Phantom when we saw his unmasked face. He won’t stop being the Phantom until he’s dead. But he’s as good as dead and he knows it. That’s the reason for the past tense. Readers with a metaphysical outlook may see the ancestors as real, the voices as real. Others may take blood loss into account and regard it as a dying man seeing what he would like to see, hearing what he would like to hear. But the important thing about the sequence is that the Phantom knows his final moments have arrived.
What he means to do next, by climbing up out of the rocks and facing his distant, unseen killer, is predicated on him knowing he’s been fatally wounded.
As you can see by reading Tony's comments, I clearly read too much into some of the panels with the eyes being closed and hidden again. What are your thoughts on this storyline? Are you happy with Tony DePaul and Mike Manley showing the Phantom's eyes? Did you get all the visual clues?
The team at Chronicle Chamber believe this expanded tale deserves a dedicated X-Band: The Phantom Podcast interview with Tony DePaul and we will ensure we get one planned.