KING: THE PHANTOM #1

PrintE-mail Written by Alister Davison

COMIC BOOK REVIEW: KING: THE PHANTOM #1 / AUTHOR: BRIAN CLEVINGER / ARTIST: BRENT SCHOONOVER / PUBLISHER: DYNAMITE / RELEASE DATE: JANUARY 28TH

The Phantom first appeared in 1936, and through those years he’s been around in various incarnations, appearing in book, comic, film and animated forms with varying degrees of success. Dynamite’s latest offering starts with the body of the 22nd Phantom burning on a funeral pyre, with Mandrake the Magician lamenting the loss of the Ghost Who Walks. Then, who should step from the shadows but...

It’s a suitably pulpy start that continues through two thirds of the comic. Inevitably a character that has lasted almost eight decades will have a lot of history, but enjoyment of the story thankfully doesn’t depend on complete knowledge of it. New readers are introduced to – and older fans are reminded of – what the Phantom is all about, and we’re treated to several pages of what he does best, which is defeat the bad guys. It’s a great opening which bodes well for this latest incarnation; there’s laugh out loud banter between the Phantom and his sidekick, action aplenty, and pages packed with detail that gives the outdoor scenes a cinematic quality.

Things go off the boil somewhat as the first arc story begins in earnest. While being true to its roots as well as offering a new spin on things, it’s lacklustre in comparison to the preceding pages. The artwork varies so much that it feels as if the artist is trying to emulate several styles, rather than stick to his own; there are even moments where the same characters can look to dissimilar from one page to the next.

Nevertheless, this is an interesting spark to ignite a new adventure for the latest Phantom. There’s a plucky damsel in distress that may or may not be a love interest, a villainous warlord, and a cliff-hanger of an ending that – just like the serials of old – should get readers wanting to know what happens in the next instalment. There are many positives to be taken from this first issue, but the feeling remains that it’s a shaky start and the series could veer off in an unsatisfying direction.
 

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