Tuesday, June 07, 2016

The Phantom Fete

While the characters in the Phantom don't age in real time, they do age -- especially under the current creative team of Tony DePaul and Paul Ryan. In mid-November, the strip reached an important milestone. The fraternal twins of the current Phantom, Kit and Heloise, turned 15. In the tradition of the Phantoms, it was time for the male heir to go out into the world to study and learn. He will return when the current Phantom dies to take his father's place.

And this time, because there's also a daughter, she'll go out into the world, too -- although not to return as a Phantom. In the mythos of the strip, the identity of the Phantom is secretly passed from father to son to preserve the perception that the Phantom is immortal, the "Ghost who walks."

Depaul and Ryan and have paid homage to Lee Falk, the creator of both the Phantom and Mandrake the Magician before (as I've noted in The Phantom Reunion). In this 15th birthday party celebration (and rite of passage), the team brings together the major characters from both strips in the panel from January 11, 2016.

From left to right : Guran, Hero, Captain Lara, Prince Rex of Baronkahn,
 the Phantom, Diana Palmer-Walker, Kit Palmer-Walker, Princess Narda of Cockaigne,
Mandrake the Magician, Heloise Palmer-Walker, Prince Lothar, Old Man Mozz, Hojo
And arriving a little late via elephant, Lily Palmer, Diana's mother.
From left to right (first panel): Taru Tagama-Lauaga,
President Lamanda Lauaga of Bangalia, Lily Palmer, Dave Palmer
For long-time readers of these strips, it's a treat to see all these familiar characters together -- as it is for any family gathering.

So who are all these people?

This might give you some idea of the rich mythos built up in these two long-running strips. In order of mention: 

  • Guran is a member of the Bandar pygmy tribe and the current Phantom's oldest friend from childhood
  • Hero, the Phantom's dog
  • Captain Lara is Prince Rex's personal bodyguard and love interest. She's originally from Shambad, a neighboring Misty Mountain kingdom. Shambad had strained relations with Baronkahn, and her background -- and the fact that she's a commoner -- made her an unpopular choice for Prince Rex's affections.
  • Prince Rex of Baronkahn was an orphaned foundling rescued by the 21st Phantom. The Phantom adopted him as his ward and raised him. In time, it was revealed the Rex King was the heir to the throne of Baronkahn, one of the kingdoms of the Misty Mountains.
  • The Phantom is the 21st descendant of the original Phantom to assume the identity -- and the 21st to be named Kit Walker (after the original Phantom).
  • Diana Palmer-Walker is the wife of the 21st Phantom and the mother of Kit and Heloise. She works in the UN"s Bangala office.
  • Kit Palmer-Walker is the son of Kit and Diana, and in time will become the 22nd Phantom.
  • Princess Narda of Cockaigne (a small European country). Although she entered the Mandrake comic strip in 1934, she didn't marry him until 1997.
  • Mandrake the Magician, a master hypnotist (though he may have other powers, such as invisibility, shapeshifting, and teleportation -- it depends on the writer)
  • Heloise Palmer-Walker, 
  • Lothar, Prince of the Seven Nations, is Mandrake's long-time companion and friend.
  • Old Man Mozz is the resident sage of the strip, often telling jungle stories. He may have psychic powers (and he's always been ancient).
  • Hojo, chief of Intel-Intel. Originally just the chef for Mandrake's estate, he was later revealed to be the head of a secret international police force, as well as a master of the martial arts. Taru Tagama-Lauaga is the wife of President Lauaga. She entered the strip as the tutor for Rex King and the twins.
  • Lamanda Lauaga is a member of the Llongo tribe, and is president of the Republic of Bangalia
  • Lily Palmer is the mother of Diana, and sister to Dave Palmer.
  • Dave Palmer is Lily's brother and Diana's uncle. When he first entered the Phantom strip, he was a police commissioner (eventually serving as the Police Commissioner of New York City). He is currently is part of the US government's anti-terrorism department,

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