The Phantom #4 Review

Reviewer: Chris Delloiacono
Story Title: N/A

Written by: Benjamin Raab
Art by: Nick Derington
Colored by: Ken Wolak with Dawn Groszewski
Lettered by: Jeff Eckleberry
Editor: Joe Gentile and Garrett Anderson
Publisher: Moonstone Books

If you joined us late”¦

The Phantom continues to capture the flavor of the old-time pulp stories of yesteryear, but with a fresh, modern vigor. This month, Ben Raab and Nick Derington deliver a story that features action, romance, and excitement. This is the perfect title for Indiana Jones enthusiasts sick of the rigmarole spouted on a weekly basis by George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and/or Harrison Ford. The empty promises of more high-adventure featuring Indiana Jones are delivered regularly in the pages of The Phantom.

In the first part of this two-part tale (issue #3), the Phantom went mano-a-mano with a mystical shaman, Kua the Undying. The story featured a through-the-ages telling of previous clashes between the Phantom and Kua. The Phantom is known as The Ghost Who Walks, because he’s been protecting the jungles of Bangalla for centuries. He is not an immortal as legend would tell, though. The Phantom, in truth, is a legacy passed from father to son. While the versions of the Phantom we saw through the varying settings in the previous issue were different, it seemed that Kua was indeed an immortal.

This month Ben Raab clears up the origin of Kua. With Kua’s true origin revealed, a fine parallel is unveiled. Kua, like the Phantom, is a legacy passed down from parent to child. The biggest difference is that the legacy of Kua was originally one of deception that turned into a heritage of revenge, whereas the Phantom’s legacy is one of selfless heroism. I liked the fantastical turn the story seemed to be taking last time, but I found the duality of the Phantom/Kua feud, and the way that Raab grounded it to reality, a refreshing change from most comics.

Artistically speaking, The Phantom is a beauty! Nick Derington (who joined the title for the second arc) has this style down to a science. We’re talking about a kinetic pace. The story moves quickly, but Derington is never left behind. He captures the fast-paced action and equally nails the few slower moments.

A big complaint from many comic readers, of late, has been the idea of “decompressed storytelling.” Basically, a writer takes a storyline that could be told more succinctly and stretches is to the convenient trade paperback length of six issues. That’s not a problem with The Phantom. So far, we’ve been treated to two two-part story arcs. Each individual story was eminently pleasing on its own. The first part ended with a strong hook to get me back the following issue. My heartfelt thanks go out to Ben Raab and the rest of the Moonstone team for giving readers their money’s worth. Substance and style go hand-in-hand, and there’s no wasted time within these pages! The rebirth of The Phantom for North American readers is a fantastic success story!

This is an advance review; The Phantom #4 will be in stores this coming Wednesday (October 6th).