Tuesday, February 09, 2016

The Phantom -- For those who came in late

One of the things that makes the Phantom comic strip different is that it can change without changing. According to the origin story (reproduced below), the seemingly immortal Phantom is actually a succession of men, each inheriting the mantle from his fallen father. Which means that the main character can age and die, while the primary reason for the strip -- the masked hero -- can continue without pause.

When I first started reading the strip, the origin story would occasionally crop up in the Sunday sequence. Most recently (September 2015), it appeared in the daily continuity. But the current creative team -- writer Tony DePaul and artists Paul Ryan and Terry Beatty -- know their subject.

While they've added creator Lee Falk as a cameo narrator, they also honor tradition. As always, this recap of the Phantom origins begins with the understated "For those who came in late," before flashing back to the 16th century. Since the strip started in 1936, no matter when you started, you came in late -- by about 400 years.

(click on images to enlarge)

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