Friday, January 15, 2010

Phantom Stranger #6

Phantom Stranger #6 (On Sale: January 15, 1970) has another winning cover by Neal Adams. The Stranger appears as a background face for the first time.

This issue contains the book-length "No. 13 Thirteenth Street" written and penciled by Mike Sekowsky and inked by, well, everyone says Vinny Colletta, but that ain't the whole truth., For certain Colletta's unmistakable inks grace (disgrace?) pages 7-12, but the rest of the book, the majority of the book is inked by someone much better. Who I'm not certain, though some of it looks like editor Joe Orlando.

This is yet another story with the four teenagers (really, that is a stretch here) from the previous few issues, who when their car breaks down find two elderly women being haunted in a house on 13th Street. They enter and people and things are flying about. They make a quick call to Dr. Thirteen, just as the Phantom Stranger arrives. The Stranger says the problem is a poltergeist; when Dr. Thirteen arrives he says the whole thing is a fraud perpetrated by the Phantom Stranger. Thirteen says this is just like the case of the haunting of the Deggs house, which he exposed as a hoax.

We cut to Chapter 2, entitled "The Case of the Diabolical Deggs House" which is inked by Vinny Colletta. The Deggs' house is being terrorized by flying objects, moving chairs, ghostly apparitions, etc. Dr. Thirteen is called and finds the culprit is Creepy Conway, a spurned beau of the teenage daughter. He, along with the help of the younger son and his chemistry set, faked all of the strange doings.

The story over, better inking returns for a page as Dr. Thirteen is attacked by a flying vase and the Phantom Stranger tells him he is being foolish to discount the supernatural. He then tells his own story, "The Haunting of Drood Wood -- or -- Give Me Back My Head!" This chapter has a harsher inking style, and if I had to guess at the inker (and I do), I would say Frank Giacoia inked the next five pages. There are actually a couple of really nice, simple but effective panels in this section of the story.

A wife drives her sleeping husband down a lonely read at night. He awakens to find out they are driving through Drood Wood and freaks out, telling her to turn around or he is a dead man due to a family curse. His wife thinks he is being silly, but suddenly they are confronted by a headless horseman of old. This scene is of course depicted so beautifully on the cover. The horseman asks the man, David, if he has found his head yet. David says that his family has searched for centuries and cannot find the man's head.

We then learn how David's ancestor, the Baron of Cheltenham, had found the man in a passionate embrace with his daughter and after trumping up some charges of theft, had the man's head cut off and buried separately. The headless man only wants to be with his beloved, but cannot go to her in death without his head. The Phantom Stranger arrives and shows the man that his head was actually made into the likeness on his tombstone (I almost said "headstone!"). His body once again whole the horseman rides off to finally be with his beloved.

Back in the present and back to Joe Orlando's inking, the Stranger says the story proves that evil exists and then asks Tara to show herself. Tara reveals herself along with a creature thing, but says she is not the cause of the strange goings-on, that it is the work of one of the elderly women, Abigail. Abigail says that she found an old book their father had and used one of the spells in it to conjure up a thing to punish her sister for always eating the pistachio ice cream and leaving her only the chocolate.

When the Phantom Stranger tries to get the book, Tala orders the thing to keep it from him, but the Stranger gets to the book first and throws it into the fireplace. Tala and the thing then disappear. Dr. Thirteen says that the whole thing was a performance by the Stranger, as usual. Abigail's sister invites the teenagers to spend the night and offers them dinner, complete with pistachio ice cream for dessert, but sends Abigail to bed without dinner for causing all the fuss.

However, after dinner all that is left in the house is chocolate ice cream. Upstairs we find Abigail with a home copier and a copy of the book wondering what else she can do to her sister. This story was reprinted in Showcase Presents: The Phantom Stranger Vol. 1 TPB.

Edited by Joe Orlando.


Ed Ooo said...

Joe Orlando a better inker than Vince Colletta??? You must be on drugs. Why would you write something like that?

-Keller said...

It doesn't matter how many fake names you make up Dan, your Uncle Vinny was still a major bore as an inker. And yes, I am on drugs, but not the kind that mess up my eyes so much that I think your Uncle Vinny could ink.

Please stay off of my site. Like Vinny, you bore me.