BookHound
Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer

THE PHANTOM STRANGER: A STRANGER AMONG US by Dan DiDio, Scott Hanna, & Brent Anderson

Phantom Stranger volume 01 cover

I’ve been a fan of the Phantom Stranger for years. One of the things I always liked about him was his mysterious origin. Over the years, there were all sorts of legends about where the Stranger was from, and I liked that I didn’t know. It was fun to suppose.

Dan DiDio, the author and co-publisher of DC Comics, strips away the mystery in the Stranger’s first graphic novel, and I’m not sure how I feel about that. Granted, this incarnation of the Stranger is really cool and has a lot of baggage to carry (especially since he is who he is, and what he has to do to get rid of the coins around his neck) as well as a family, but I liked having him be the guy that arrived on the scene with the answers and kind of fixing things. Usually. That was the beauty of the Stranger. You never knew if things were gonna turn out okay.

Phantom Stranger volume 01 page 01

Well, things obviously don’t always turn out okay in this new incarnation either.

The Stranger’s origin story was originally a number zero issue of the comics. In the graphic novel it’s released as the opening bit. I think I would have liked a little bit of the mystery remaining to the character before ripping it all away, but they did do that in the original release of the comics.

Phantom Stranger volume 01 page 02

The storyline starts out big and grows larger as Pandora and the Question pop into the story. I’ll admit that I got lost several times along the way and didn’t know who was doing what to whom.

I did like the nod to other characters that have bumped into the Stranger during his various incarnations. Dr. Terrence Thirteen is a welcome addition, but I was confused about him in this present story because he obviously believes in magic since he’s pursued by a demon.

Phantom Stranger volume 01 page 03

The role the Stranger plays in Jim Corrigan’s life was a true surprise. Corrigan became the Spectre after getting killed by mobsters and being revived by the Voice, presumably God. Evidently the Stranger is going to continue betraying people as he goes along, and that bothers me to a degree. I’m going to wait to see how this plays out, but I have to admit I was appalled by the events surrounding the young boy playing soccer. I don’t know why that had to happen.

Phantom Stranger volume 01 page 04

Another interested character introduced into the strip is Pandora. I’ve picked up the graphic novel that tells her story, but have yet to get to it. Evidently a tapestry of sin binds the Stranger, Pandora, and the Question, and that is getting revealed slowly. I hope not too slowly.

Phantom Stranger volume 01 page 05

The book ends on a cliffhanger, which I didn’t expect, and which I wasn’t truly happy with. I’m not sure how I feel about this new Stranger and his direction, but I picked up the second volume of his adventures because the Stranger remains…mysterious.

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