Hey there, Geeks and Geekettes! Welcome to another Comic Book Wednesday which means, of course, comic reviews!
We’ll start the week off with DC Comics Phantom Stranger #13 and Stormwatch #25.
Writer: J.M. DeMatteis
Artist: Fernando Blanco
Phantom Stranger is a part of the more “magic centered” side of DC Comics, along with Justice League Dark, it has more of a Vertigo feel to it, but this time around, with the New 52 reboot, they’re grounding this side of the DCU in more connection with everything else. It doesn’t feel so disconnected as it did before.
Phantom Stranger is a fun and… strange comic. It has heavy religious tones, as we’re lead to believe that the Phantom Stranger used to be Judas, the very same who betrayed Christ and is now kept alive to do God’s bidding in some undefined penance.
This issue we find the Stranger in the house he’s used for his alter ego and mortal guide, Philip Stark. Philip Stark was a real man – a serial killer, whom planned to murder his wife and two children. On orders to take care of Stark, The Stranger decided to take it a step further, and instead assumed his identity and lived as Philip Stark. He fell in love with Stark’s wife, learned to love his children as his own, and found a sense of peace there. The real Philip Stark’s corrupted soul became the Sin Eater. He came back and killed him family and is now burning his old home to the ground. As God appears to The Stranger as a scottish terrier, Sin Eater walks with a giant, muscled, slobbering doberman pincher. In probably the most chilling scene of the book, the dog speaks to the Phantom Stranger as he sit in his burning home, yelling at the Sin Eater, accusing him of all the evil he’s wrought.
While I normally shy away from religious centered books, The Phantom Strangers predicament, the characters surrounding him, and his connection to The Question and Pandora have me quite intrigued. After the Sin Eater leaves with the hound, the house finishes burning, and the Stranger manipulates the neighbors into believing the family moved away months ago, the Stranger decides to confront The Question, whom is responsible for killing The Stranger with the ‘spear of destiny’. The terrier later brought The Stranger back.
A small fight breaks out between the two, The Question goes to stab The Stranger with the spear once more, when they’re teleported to Jerusulem, and The Stranger talks about the significance of the place to himself; but it raises a question – does it have signifigance to The Question? The Stranger is clearly from Christian mythos, while Pandora is from Greek mythos, but what about The Question? He doesn’t know who or why he is.
He asks The Stranger, has he come to The Question looking for vengeance – or death? The Question hands The Stranger the spear. The Stranger moves to pierce himself with it, ending his centuries of servitude and penance. Instead, a light bursts forth from him, the same light that Dr. Light instilled in him back in Justice League #22. The Phantom Stranger thought he’d delivered the last of that light to Light’s family, but now he sees there was a piece left, a gift, for him. The Stranger is overwhelmed with feelings of sacred radiance, sees a vision of a new path, a brighter future, and feels lifted out of his despair and rage…
And as Zuriel the angel appears, taking up the spear and confronted The Question whom disappears in a wisp of grey smoke – The Phantom Stranger too, disappears. We find The Stranger, The Question, and Pandora, bound at the feet of John Constantine, Nightmare Nurse, and Swamp Thing. John’s brought them all to the Rock of Eternity – to kill evil. (Sidenote: We know from JLD’s last issue, that Nightmare Nurse grew her own Swamp Thing. So that might not be /the/ Swamp Thing!)
The artwork, dialogue and plot of the story have stayed consistently good throughout the books 13 issues, and it keeps me entertained and intrigued, wanting to follow The Stranger on his path to salvation, and to learn about his connection to the other immortals. This book was a significant part of the story, an obvious turning point for the story at large, and a very well written book besides. Definitely pick it up; even if you haven’t read the rest, this is the book you’ll read that will decide whether or not you’ll enjoy this series.
I give this issue a 4.5 out of 5 Mysterious Fedoras.
Writer: Jim Starlin
Artist: Yvel Guichet
Stormwatch is an odd book for me, it’s not one I read regularly, in fact, I don’t think I’ve read more than an issue. Most of my experience with the New 52 Stormwatch comes from their guest appearances in other books. I had no idea Lobo was a recurring character, or I’d have been reading a lot sooner.
This issue we find Stormwatch racing to get an ‘artifact’ before an alien by the name of Mordak can get his hands on it. The majority of the team is to keep Mordak busy while one sneaks away to secure the artifact.
Lobo is the first to be taken down, but he quickly recovers. Mordak is handing Stormwatch’s ass to them, so Lobo hops on his bike and bails.
Stormwatch defeated, but the mission accomplished, they send in a teenage girl that in one hit takes out Mordak. (Why not start with that?) They then hit space to retrieve Lobo, whose “nano-minders” zap him every time he gets more than a light-year away from Stormwatch. Feetal’s Giz! Can’t the Main Man catch a break?
This issue, while I have no idea whether or not it’s important, is interesting. I’ll likely pick up the next one and if it’s just as good, with lots of Lobo, I might find back issues. As a stand alone issue
I think I’ll rate it…
3 out of 5 Loud Mouthed Bastiches.
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