DC is releasing fifty-two zero issues in an attempt to give a jumping on point for people that did not come on board with the New 52 from the get go, and as a way to re-tell the origins of those heroes who’s continuity was still confusing post-Flashpoint. In some cases, such as that of The Phantom Stranger, they are changing origins radically. Does the new origin work or is it a dud? Find out with this Major Spoiler’s review!

THE PHANTOM STRANGER #0
Writer: Dan DiDio
Artist: Brent Anderson
Inker: Scott Hanna
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously in The Phantom Stranger: Seeing as how this is the first issue of the new series there is not much that happened before this. He made an appearance in the Free Comic Book Day giveaway, The Trinity War. This depicted the Stranger and two others being sentenced by a court of wizards for their sins. Before all the New 52 business the Phantom Stranger had a gallery of origins, mostly Judeo-Christian in some form or another, and one involving a parallel universe.

A VAGUER STRANGER

The first few pages (which were almost completely recycled from The Trinity War) show The Phantom Stranger’s new origins, which are vague to say the least. He is punished for doing something involving betrayal and avarice, and his punishment is to walk the lands until he does some unspecified thing, all the while being bossed around by a strange voice from the heavens, and being granted strange, undefined, powers. Needless to say, there is not much concrete about what is going on in the Stranger’s life right now. Near the end of the tale, The Phantom Stranger helps an ex-cop find a captured girl, ultimately leading him to a set-up and turning the man into The Specter. There is no explanation for why it happened, not outside a vague sense of higher powers demanding it arbitrarily, and it felt out of place to just have The Specter’s origins in what is supposed to be a Phantom Stranger book.

NOTHING TO SEE HERE

The art is serviceable. Things tend to look like what they are supposed to be. The actions of characters look unclear most of the time though. It seems Anderson really hates drawing eyes, because he tries to avoid it as much as possible. Pretty much at every chance available he has a character’s brow cast shadows over where their eyes would be. When he does draw eyes, they are very basic, no more than dots on white, which is fine, but makes me wonder why it seems like he avoids it so much.

BOTTOM LINE: NOTHING TO BECOME FAMILIAR WITH

Overall its a sub-par comic. Its too vague to hold my interest, and it doesn’t raise any questions or give the reader a hook for the next issue. The Phantom Stranger just seems to accept his world of enigma, and has no drive to ever get any answers to what exactly is going on. If the comic continues in such a fashion, then it will just be boring. Save your money on this one, I really do not recommend it.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

The Author

Elijah Williams

Elijah Williams

As a young boy my parents showed me a movie. This movie involved dinosaurs, in a park, on an island. I was so awestruck by the fantastical idea. "Dinosaurs? Interacting with HUMANS?!?" From that moment on I was a bona fide geek. I loved it all, cartoons, movies, video games, everything. Unfortunately comics eluded my radar until middle school, when my father handed me a trade paper back of Marvels. The rest is history.

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8 Comments

  1. September 9, 2012 at 11:50 am — Reply

    He’s Judas. Of biblical, I-betrayed-Jesus-then-hung-myself-for-it fame. And I mostly liked the comic… I’m just not sure how I feel about the Phantom Stranger being anything less than an omniscient stranger.

    • Eli
      September 9, 2012 at 11:58 am — Reply

      Thanks for clearing that up, I am not that well versed in biblical mythology.

      And I know what you mean, one thing I always loved about The Stranger was how he was just kind of ambiguous.

  2. September 9, 2012 at 11:54 pm — Reply

    I know what you mean man, its confusing. I just choose to believe its all real. There are Roman/Greek/Egyptian gods (like those the Shazam wizards get their powers from) and there is the big G, and Jesus. Also there isn’t any of that. The DC universe is a kind of amalgam of all that. We know evolution happened in the DC universe because of Vandal Savage being alive during the cave-man era. Its all very confusing.

    Also nice catch on the Pandora=Eve thing, I hadn’t even considered that.

  3. September 10, 2012 at 3:19 pm — Reply

    I don’t have a problem with Jesus being “real” in comics. I am a Christian but if I had a problem with allegory then I’d never be able to read any of the Rings books or Narnia stories. You couldn’t have the Grail Legend of the Arthurian legends (and “Demon Knights”) without Christ. And, by the way, the majority of the New Testament is pretty much fact and not “mythology” as it can easily be confirmed by other historical sources and archeology. Who you believe to be Christ to be is up to the individual. The use of “sorcerers” is no different from many other Medieval legends based on magi, Judas, the Grail, etc. And I think that both Marvel and DC are pretty firm in their use of Greek, Roman and other “god” pantheons as being “superhuman” beings and not deity. There was a “Trinity of Evil” in Dante’s “Divine Comedy” who were the three people that were condemed to be eternally consumed by Satan himself. They were Judas Iscariot, Brutus and Cassius (Ceasar’s betrayers).

    What makes me more interested is that we get the first appearance (that I’m aware of) of The Specter in this “New 52” universe and he’s Jim Corrigan again. Too bad the art was just not the right style to make the Specter more impressive.

    So the Phantom Stranger here is basically a combination of Judas Iscariot and the old legend of the “Wandering Jew”. Now we wait to find out if the woman called “Pandora” is just that, the person that released the world’s woes and who the red headed stranger (Willie Nelson) that refused to kneel is.

    • September 11, 2012 at 11:16 am — Reply

      I mean if you read the current Wonder Woman series, or any previous comics that heavily involved Shazam or Black Adam, it is pretty clear that their respective gods deities.

      Also, I would love to see some of these sources that back up Christian mythos as fact, where could I find some?

      • steven
        September 11, 2012 at 11:28 am — Reply

        the dead sea scrolls are true and existing factual historical records. look it up.

  4. September 11, 2012 at 8:34 am — Reply

    My issue was the group of wizards that apparently have a job of punishing the biggest sinners. What?

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