Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Phantom Threes!

It's an odd day since later I hope to pick up not one Phantom comic book from my local store, but two, and ironically both are number three issues. In a legal morass of rights ownership I will never fathom both Hermes Press and Dynamite Comics currently have the rights to publish new adventures of the classic Lee Falk comic strip costumed jungle hero.

Hermes is in the middle of publishing a six-issue story by Peter David and Sal Velluto done in a classic comic book storytelling style I can really sink my teeth into. Alas the frequency of publication has made following the story a bit of a chore since months and months pass between installments. Hermes has rigorously, if not fluidly, issued reprints of the vintage comic strips and comic books themselves, and I'm happy to see material of this kind being done by them, but I'd love to see it published with a greater fidelity to the predictable.

Arguably even more maddening is the absolute calamity the knotheads at Dynamite have made of their King Features "celebration". The plan, I guess, was to publish five four-issue books with an integrated storyline starring some of King Features' most recognizable stars. It began with a bang under an exceedingly handsome set of covers by Darwyn Cooke, but swiftly fell into disrepair. By my present count we currently have a full set of four comics starring Flash Gordon, three starring Jungle Jim, two featuring Prince Valiant, and only one with Mandrake the Magician. Today, if it arrives as planned, we will finally get three comics focused on the Phantom (this version is Lothar of Mandrake fame under the mantle). The storyline is a shambles and the frustration at even discovering when these books are coming out has been palpable.

I can say with no small amount of certainty that I will not follow another Dynamite series after this. I will wait for the trades, if they appear, but this utter contempt for and complete lack of respect for the reading public is one of the reasons I abandoned practically all periodical pamphlet comics eight years ago.

But all that said, I am pleased to find two Phantom comics waiting for me today. As I wrap up my school year with the obligatory paperwork woes, I have some fun pending at the close of business.

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