Friday, December 12, 2008

Showcase #80

Showcase #80 (On Sale: December 12, 1968) has a Phantom Stranger cover by Neal Adams.

We begin with the Phantom Stranger in "Men Call Me the Phantom Stranger" by Mike Friedrich, Jerry Grandenetti and Bill Draut. This was the first new Phantom Stranger story since The Phantom Stranger #6 in 1953. DC was looking for more mystery comics and found a winner in this long-forgotten character, revamped for the 1960s. This story was a framing sequence around the rest of the book which was reprints and was itself reprinted in Showcase Presents Phantom Stranger Vol. 1 TPB.

Next we have "The Three Signs of Evil" by John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella and reprinted from Phantom Stranger #2. Artist Mark Davis strolls through Columbus Circle and happens upon a gathering. As he watches, he begins sketching a picture of some symbols the people are using. When the group notices him, they demand that he turn over the sketches. Davis refuses and leaves the scene.

The cult members follow Davis and attack him near Times Square. Mark is rescued by the Phantom Stranger who examines Mark's sketch. The Stranger deduces where the cult will be from the sketch. Mark offers his assistance in stopping the cult.

Following the third sign in his sketch, Mark is captured by the Moon Cult. They intend to sacrifice him to gain mystical power. The Phantom Stranger comes to the rescue again and knocks out the cult. Mark summons the police, while the Stranger disappears.

Lastly we have a reprint of the first Doctor 13 story, "I Talked with the Dead" from Star Spangled Comics #122 and drawn by the great Leonard Starr. DC took the mystical Stranger and added the supernatural hoax-breaker Terrance Thirteen as a foil for the Stranger's mystic adventures.

Edited by Joe Orlando.

3 comments:

Golden Age of Comic Books Podcast said...

This is a really great cover for the revival of the Phantom Stranger who later got his own title. This character remains one of my favorites from the Silver and Bronze Ages.

-Keller said...

Yeah, the element I failed to mention with regards to the Stranger's initial new success was the wonderful covers by Neal Adams. It's strange that a guy who really cemented the birth of the mystery/horror titles at DC, by creating these wonderful moody covers, was himself, so poor a lot of the time, at executing mystery stories. There are some brilliant exceptions to this, but, for example, the one issue of the Phantom Stranger for which Adams provided the interior art, is a disaster. It is beautifully drawn, but the art just seems so inappropriate for the story. More on this later when that issue is published, but there is no denying that Adams' covers are one of the major forces in selling the mystery books and the Phantom Stranger revival.

Dave Potts said...

Keller said:
Lastly we have a reprint of the first Doctor 13 story, "I Talked with the Dead" from Star Spangled Comics #122 and drawn by the great Leonard Starr. DC took the mystical Stranger and added the supernatural hoax-breaker Terrance Thirteen as a foil for the Stranger's mystic adventures.

The Dr. Thirteen reprints were great, but I hate his appearances in the Phantom Stranger stories. Adding him to the Phantom Stranger's supporting cast was a huge mistake, and ruined the credibility of the character. The whole point of the Dr. Thirteen stories was that he found rational explanations for seemingly-supernatural occurrences, and they were great little detective stories. When they put him into the Phantom Stranger adventures, where the audience knows the occurrences really are supernatural, it made Thirteen look like a closed-minded chump.