Current Reviews


Phantom Stranger #42

Posted: Thursday, January 28, 2010
By: Michael Deeley

Peter Tomasi
Adrian Syaf, Vicente CiFuentes (i)
DC Entertainment
Continuing from events in Blackest Night #2. The Phantom Stranger and Blue Devil battle the Spectre whose human host has been turned into a Black Lantern. The Spectre suddenly quits to go after Hal Jordan. The Stranger and the Devil then go looking for Deadman whoís defend the mystical city of Nanda Parbat from Black Lanterns, including his own corpse. The Stranger helps Deadman retake his old body and bring it into the city, claiming that it has a special destiny to fulfill.

I went back and reread Blackest Night #2 to answer one burning question: Howíd the Spectre get so weak? Isnít the Spectre a divine entity? The vengeful hand of God? Iíve seen him bend the laws of time and space. Heís arm wrestled the Anti-Monitor. Heís merged the entire DC universe with the Marvel universe! The only things that have ever held him back are his connection to a human host and the power of Heaven. So howís this little black ring keeping him down? How can a ring from an alien death god make the Spectreís human corpse so powerful, it can resist an agent of the Almighty?

Another reading of Blackest Night #2 also reveals a continuity flaw. In Blackest Night #2, the Phantom Stranger says he cannot directly interfere only guide. But here, heís blasting the Spectre with energy bolts and wrapping Deadman inside his cape. Thatís not interference?

Speaking of Deadman, it isnít made clear why his mortal remains need to be in Nanda Parbat or what valuable information he gained from possessing Black Lanterns. I assume weíll find out in the core mini-series. But I have a sneaking suspicion this Nanda Parbat plot will be continued in a completely unrelated series. Has anybody heard anything about a new Deadman comic?

The artís not bad. Itís what Iíd consider above average for a superhero comic book. The actionís easy to follow and the story moves quickly. My only complaint in the art department is that Blue Devil turns purple early in the book, then changes back at the end.

Blue Devil. Is purple. That cost the comic half a bullet. Also, Zatanna is on the cover and not in the book. I hate when that happens.

The comic begins and ends with the Stranger giving identical monologues. Itís supposed to give the story a sense of symmetry, but it just reinforces the feeling that the story is a closed loop. We donít get any major story developments. Weíre teased with secrets and fights that weíre going to see anyway in the core mini-series. The other resurrected titles show characters dealing with the Black Lanterns on a more personal level. Phantom Stranger tries to tie into the crossover and fails. It is completely unnecessary and ultimately pointless to the overall story. Itís an amusing distraction, but a distraction nonetheless.

And where was the Strangerís old nemesis/co-star Dr. 13? Iíd like to see how that professional skeptic reacted to his wife coming back from the dead. That could have been more interesting than this.

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