Friday, November 13, 2009

Phantom Stranger #5

Phantom Stranger #5 (On Sale: November 13, 1969) has a nice cover by Neal Adams. This will be the last cover for a while that shows the Stranger as an actual character on the cover.

We begin with "The Devil's Playground" by Robert Kanigher, Mike Sekowsky and Murphy Anderson. I cannot tell you how much I dislike the writing in this issue, mainly as it pertains to the four "hippie" characters returning from last issue. These four: Spartacus, Wild Rose, Attile and Mister Square (you can't make up names that bad! Oh wait, Robert Kanigher actually did!), are at the beach one night when they hear a man calling out. When they get to him they find him dead. When they go to show the body to a security guard, it is missing.

Back in "the city," the four teenagers, Dr. Thirteen and Tala all end up at the same dance club, where a man named Earl Winthrop is breaking up with his girlfriend Vera. Broken-hearted Vera drives off into the night and, after hitting an oil slick on the road, off a bridge and into the ocean. The Phantom Stranger appears and retrieves her dead body from the deep, bringing her to shore where the police are waiting.

Meanwhile, back at the club, Earl is now on to another conquest, this time it is Wild Rose who, along with her friends recognize Earl Winthrop as the man they saw drowned at the beach. Rose dances with Winthrop and Tala decides to set the club on fire. The Phantom Stranger shows up and uses his cape to put out the fire. Tala tries to win him over with a kiss and then leaves, while Dr. Thirteen once again calls the Stranger a phony.

Outside Winthrop invites everyone to party at his beach house while he flies to Florida. The house keeper lets them in but shows them a newspaper with a headline regarding Winthrop being lost at sea. The gang parties anyway (it is the 60's after all) and eventually Winthrop shows up saying the newspaper was mistaken, yet with a bit of seaweed hanging off his hand. The kids notice that Earl dances with every woman in the room and seems to ask each one the same question, which always results in the woman laughing.

They get a warning that a hurricane is coming and everyone leaves the beach house except Earl, the four kids and Dr. Thirteen. Earl takes Wild Rose out to the beach for a walk and confides in her that the newspaper was right and that his plane did crash. While floating in the sea a strange light appeared and told Earl that he was doomed to float in eternal loneliness forever unless he can find someone who will weep tears of pity for him. He told every woman he met tonight his story and they all laughed at him, but Wild Rose does cry for him and he returns to the sea to meet his end.

However Tala shows up to see that Wild Rose joins Winthrop in death and a fight ensues between her and the Phantom Stranger. In the end, the Stranger wins and Dr. Thirteen once again, calls the Stranger a phony. Wow, was this a badly written story.

The back-up story is "The Devil's Footprints" by Robert Kanigher and the unusal, but good-looking art team of Curt Swan and Nick Cardy.

This entire book was reprinted in Showcase Presents Phantom Stranger Vol. 1 TPB.

Edited by Joe Orlando.

No comments: