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Phantom Lady #1 - Chasing Shadows Review

4

The Phantom Lady and the Doll Man get their very own 4-issue mini-series, so how does the classic character's first appearance fare?

The Good

The story opens in the present with Phantom Lady demonstrating what she does best -- kicking butt in the safety of the shadows. I like that the creative team quickly switches gears from the present to the past, digging into the story of just exactly how the Phantom Lady came to be. It's clear pretty quickly that she's had to sacrifice her scruples to a certain extent in order to get what she wants. She's not just a random girl at a club, she's a reporter who's parents were brutally murdered. I like the way the team set up the story and the way they are gradually fleshing out her character; getting to the heart of who she is behind her superhero identity and super powers. I think it's a great way to set up a story and to get the reader invested in her character.

She's got a great personality and it's clear she's willing to do whatever it takes in order to get things done. She wants to take down the man who murdered her family, and that revenge is what initially propels her. It will be interesting to see if the character evolves and if she finds motivations elsewhere -- particularly after what we see happen in this story.

There's a great interaction between her and her best friend, Dane, who clearly loves her. The ultimate moment is when she realizes she should have valued the things in her life when she still had them. It's a great scene that leaves you hanging on, anticipating what will come next.

The Bad

Overall, I liked Cat Staggs' pencils on this issue. I do think it could have been more detailed (I would have liked to see some expression shown in the characters), and it wouldn't have hurt to be more creative with the panel layouts.

As fun as this issue was, it did feel a little bit predictable. Still, it's a solid introduction to a character that is very different from her original incarnation.

The Verdict

I like the way that the creative team has modernized this character. It feels like she's strong, relatively independent and willing to take risks if it means getting the job done. I love that she owns her sexuality: she knows what she wants and she's not afraid to use it in order to achieve her goal. The creative team has done a good job taking this classic character and modernizing her in a way that will make her relatable to this generation's comic readers. Overall, this is a great introductory issue into her mini-series and I am definitely looking forward to seeing what happens to her next.

17 Comments
Posted by TheCommissar

I thought this was decent. My main issue with it is that it seemed to be more exposition than anything. I can excuse that, though, since it is only the first issue.

Posted by Strafe Prower

I can't wait to read this one. I'm a huge fan of the Freedom Fighters, so this is a must for me!

Posted by Jonny_Anonymous

I love Gray and Palmiotti

Posted by BradyDale

It's nice to see that she's finally been awarded a shirt and pants, too. Why anyone ever thought so many ladies would want to fight crime in swimsuits, I don't know, but I think the original Phantom Lady costume wins the prize for silliest of all Golden Age costumes. Honestly.

It was still silly when they brought back Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters a while back, so I'm glad they got around to fixing it.

Posted by BradyDale
There's a great interaction between her and her best friend, Dane, who clearly loves her.

, so are you saying that this comic kicks off what looks to be a "let's just be friends" sorta story? Ooph! But if there's one story dudes who are into comics can relate to, it's that one. Man-o-man. Can't believe no one has done that one before.

Posted by Outside_85

Thought this was a much better read than that 'other' book everyone is talking about right now.

Posted by Judge_Dredd

Some solid potential here, on board so far.

Posted by jsphsmth

I was not a fan of Gray and Palmiotti's The Ray, but I love street-level stories so definitely picking this up.

Posted by doordoor123
@jsphsmth said:

I was not a fan of Gray and Palmiotti's The Ray, but I love street-level stories so definitely picking this up.

I'm a HUGE Palmiotti and Gray fan, but even I had problems with The Ray. It was clearly an experiment and that is fine because as weird as the story was for me I thought the character was really creative.  
 
As for this book; I LOVED it. I kind of wish Conner didn't do the cover even though she is one of my favorite artists -- it just wasn't as gritty as this books interiors were. I think this book might have sold better if it was as gritty. And I DID have a hard time reading through the beginning because of all the expository, but once the ball started rolling, I loved it.  
 
For some reason after reading this book, I feel like Palmiotti and Gray can write a great Daredevil. This book has the same level of grit that makes Daredevil books great. These guys can write any kind of book -- this book is so different from Jonah Hex, Power Girl or even the Ray. This is the tone of book I like to see Palmiotti and Gray writing; I see it a lot in their independent books. Its great to see that come alive here at DC.  
 
I wish this book great success. 
Posted by Alton

I enjoyed the P&G reboot of The Ray but didn't follow the last Freedom Fighters 8 issue run.I found this new take on Phantom Lady & Dollman interesting but somewhat confusing as to the explanation of PL's powers and needed a little bit more background on where they came from and how they work.Again this is issue 1,but I thought it a little strange that we would see the transformation of Dollman first.What Sara sees as independence I see more as escalating reckless behavior and sometimes not very well thought out courses of action which is strange for a character supposedly trying to operate covertly. Also i find her sexuality may not be her own ,but is basically a tool of manipulation.The other thing that needs to be explained is how she overcame the severe trauma of seeing her parents killed in a particularly horrific manner.Maybe deep trauma explains her recklessness as I see it.This is still a promising issue I would give a solid 3 stars to and I hope others support this book.Anything other than core titles have been getting passed over recently by the fans and DC wisely pared down The Ray and PL&D-Man to only 4 issues when quite frankly they should have been 6 issues a piece. … … …

Posted by Ganthetsward20

For some weird reason I look at the cover and I think of Rose Tyler from Dr. Who.

Posted by The Mighty Monarch

Anyone else think this is going to end similarly to Gray/Palmiotti's Ray miniseries? More set up for Freedom Fighters as probably an ongoing?

Posted by Alton

@The Mighty Monarch: Let's hope the heck so.I see a similar take in this New Freedom Fighters formation to the creation of DC's Mighty Crusaders.Hopefully, this will go better than that crash and burn.Of course nobody supported that book or the rest of Red Circle either. Maybe this will fare better sales wise and has the advantage of not being a licensed property.

Posted by The Mighty Monarch

@Alton: I totally supported DC's attempt at The Mighty Crusaders, I was quite digging The Web.

Posted by Alton

@The Mighty Monarch: Yeah me too because I'm old enough to remember earlier versions of the original Archie Red Circle and find myself hating what Archie itself is now doing with the characters. DC's take had the potential to reboot and update these guys and they started with characters that I didn't remember and still made me like them. I only remembered Fly and Jaguar and maybe one other. Well what's done is done and maybe this updating of the Freedom Fighters will take off. Maybe long enough for a company crossover with Marvels Agents Of Atlas or at least DC's own Doom Patrol. Yes it's true I'm constantly disappointed because I ask for too much. LOL. At least it saves some trees from another Batman book and I like Batman.

Posted by The Mighty Monarch

@Alton: I'm actually fairly young, I just happened to find The Web interesting, as well as Hangman. John Rozum writing didn't hurt.

YES. WHERE IS THE DOOM PATROL DC!?

Generally I love to look at the more obscure and off-the-beaten-path kind of stuff. It's why I looked into The Web in the first place, as well as T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, Doom Patrol, Resurrection Man etc.

Posted by Alton

@The Mighty Monarch said:

@Alton: I'm actually fairly young, I just happened to find The Web interesting, as well as Hangman. John Rozum writing didn't hurt.

YES. WHERE IS THE DOOM PATROL DC!?

Generally I love to look at the more obscure and off-the-beaten-path kind of stuff. It's why I looked into The Web in the first place, as well as T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, Doom Patrol, Resurrection Man etc.

Check out Big Dog Ink for a recent title called Critter.The covers may strike some people as somewhat over the top but the first arc was good.This has led to an ongoing and an offshoot mini arc of interconnected 1 shots involving other characters on the goverment sponsored team Critter leaves home to join while attending college.It is just for fun along with some other titles from Big Dog Ink.Also Brian Keene's The Last Zombie which has appeared in 4 installments of 5 issue mini arcs Dead New World, Inferno, Neverland, and Before The After.The first 3 are already in trade and BTA just started as a 5 issue run this week 9/5/12.These are from Antarctic Press a great little company out of Texas.I know you may think the Zombie thing has been done to death,but Keene is the new Sheriff in town. DC's Ravagers has been pretty good so far and I didn't read the Teen Titans issues that introduced them but you really don't need to .Rozum's 6 issue run on DC's magic title Xombie was awesome ,but fans didn't support it. It is already out in trade.