Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Phantom Stranger #2

Is Pandora's quest to institute the old DCU? If so, I'm one of the few that hope she fails!

Last issue, I learned that The Phantom Stranger's current name was Philip. He had a wife and two children. I don't much about the Phantom Stranger so I don't know if any of that should be familiar. Let me see if he's in the Who's Who!

He is and it wasn't much help. Although it did mention that he once became close to the mortal Bruce Gordon, the human half of Eclipso. And since Eclipso is appearing in several DC Comics right now, maybe their friendship will come into play? But probably not. This is The New 52! Forget the old rules! Everything is new now! Not because anything is really new but because DC said it was new so that they can erase some aspects of their characters' histories to keep from paying royalties to writers they hate. But that's just a cynical theory! I believe DC's main goal in creating The New 52 was to make the fans happy!

Pandora begins the issue by confronting The Phantom Stranger at his kids' soccer game. She accuses him of living a lie. She sticks a gun in his face. And then she asks him for help. Well, that's how I normally go about asking for a favor. Although I've never asked a favor from mankind's collective unconscious, so perhaps the gun in the face and the accusations are the best way to go about it.

So if The Phantom Stranger doesn't help Pandora find someone to crack her box, she's going to break up The Phantom Stranger's sham marriage. What is this? Invitation to Love?

When the Stranger returns home, he finds Trigon's son Belial waiting for him. It looks like no matter how much The Phantom Stranger would like to leave his work at work, he can't avoid it seeping into his home life. It's only the second issue and his family is being threatened by the mythical Pandora and the bastard son of Trigon. Maybe The Stranger can save his family by betraying the marriage vows he took and divorcing Elena. Perhaps he'd even lose one of his silver coins for doing so.

After dealing with Belial, The Stranger receives a phone call from someone named Terrence Thirteen.

Remember this guy's ancestor from All Star Western?

Interestingly enough, this Terrence Thirteen is completely obsessed with the paranormal. His great, great grandfather (plus or minus a few greats) was a completely rational and scientific man. He was the Scooby Doo Gang of the late 19th century. His only appearance so far in The New 52 was when he solved the case of The Haunted Highwayman by using logic, science, and the technology of the time. When the criminal 19th Century Terrence Thirteen was caught and about to be hanged, he cursed Terrence Thirteen across all of his generations. Of course, Terrence didn't give the curse any heed. As far as the man of science was concerned, curses were bullshit.

But then this is the comic book world where reality is a bit different. To believe in ghosts and curses and gods and super powers in this world makes you, at least, a bit credulous and, at most, a complete fool, it's exactly the opposite in the world of comics. The evidence of the supernatural and paranormal is everywhere in the DCnU and to take Mister Terrific's and Terrence Thirteen's stance of disbelief is to completely ignore all of that evidence. But that was the old Terrence Thirteen! This Terrence Thirteen has a reason to track all of the supernatural and paranormal phenomena in the world. Because the curse apparently worked!

Now this is the way to world build!

This is a much more natural way to build cohesiveness amid the different series in the New 52. Instead of forcing crossovers between titles, just use characters and history set up in one book to have some kind of impact in another title. A person doesn't have to read All Star Western to understand any of what has happened. It means a lot more if you have but that's why this works as solid world building. It feels seamless and organic because you don't have to read the other title. I can see why DC would want to force you to read more of their books. But this kind of thing will work much better in the long run to build loyal fans of your universe.

The Haunted Highwayman gets the better of The Phantom Stranger and strings him up in a noose when the scene ends. But I have a feeling that since The Stranger already died once that way, he's kind of over it. He'll be okay next issue! Right? His name is on the cover!

The final page shows that Jim Corrigan is looking for The Phantom Stranger. That job by the Phantom Stranger was probably a big mistake. You don't betray a guy into becoming the Spirit of Vengeance! That just seems like a really stupid move.

The Phantom Stranger #2 Rating: +1 Ranking. Other than the art, I'm enjoying this comic book. I might not be remembering this correctly but I think the art reminds me of The Specter's comic book run by John Ostrander. The one with the glow in the dark issue #1! I'm not a fan of the style.

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