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The Phantom Stranger #0 - A Stranger Among Us Review

3

Who is the Phantom Stranger and where does he come from?

The Good

First thing's first, I LOVED how Jim Corrigan talked here. His dialogue came out of a classic crime film. It was awesome. When he threw his badge at his boss and said "Here! You can have it!", I may have giggled, a lot. In fact, any time Jim Corrigan talked, I got all giggly, especially when he called someone a "two-bit hustler." I had the most fun with the few scenes he was in here; however, I'm a big fan of the Spectre, so I also had a lot of anticipation waiting for Jim to die.

The Trinity of Sin is a very intriguing concept for this universe. Now, we don't get a connection to the DCU Pre-Flashpoint here at all, which is fine, but we do get to see their origins, for the most part, with the focus on Phantom Stranger. I'm glad these characters are finally making their way into the the DCU now.

This was a fun book for me. It wasn't high concept or muddled down with story on top of story. It was simple and a lot of fun, the same way OMAC was. I like seeing classic DC character have their own books. I like rooting for the underdog. Sometimes I get sick of the Trinity and I want to see... well... The Trinity of Sin.

The Bad

There is one big problem with book, and it's the art. Brent Anderson's pencils seem to be pretty good, and I really like what Jeromy Cox is doing with the colors, which match Anderson's pencils very well, but Scott Hanna's inks do not fit this book. They muddy up the art a bit and don't fit the style. The inks work with the pencils decently, but the colors, which I really enjoyed, do not work well. The inks need to be toned down quite a bit.

The intro to The Spectre wasn't a great one. He was a bit much for me in the two pages that we get to see him. The dialogue wasn't too great, and his appearance was over-the-top.

I had high hopes for this book because it has to deal with one of the members of the Trinity of Sin, and if you remember, one of those folks (Pandora) is responsible for the New 52. I felt a tad let down.

The Verdict

While I really enjoyed this book, it's not really a standout book. Sure, it's fun and a tad campy, in a good way, but it's not what I was hoping for, especially because the main character seems like a pivotal character in this new universe. I really enjoyed seeing the origin in this issue, and I love how much fun I had reading it.

On the down side, I really didn't think the ink worked with the pencils and the colors in this issue. It really muddled the art work. I also felt pretty disappointed in Spectre's dialogue, since the Corrigan dialogue was so good.

Overall, it's down the middle. I very mildly recommend it.

24 Comments
Posted by Twentyfive

This is the series that I strangely find myself anticipating, as I didn't care about it as recently as last week. But I'm on board!

Posted by Say_DaySawn

I heavily considered buying this, but I decided to wait and hear what people thought about it. I did skim through it and I didn't really like the art.

Posted by longbowhunter

I love all things mystical in the DC universe, especially Phantom Stranger. Didio writing already had me groaning, but when flipped through this at the shop it didn't look great.

Posted by Booster_Bronze

I dunno maybe it's me but I kinda enjoyed it. He fleshed out the Stranger's origin pretty well to me, and I found it intriguing.

Posted by lykopis

I am trying this one out.

Posted by JayMar89

i liked it but i wanted spectre to get a new look i was anticipating that so that was kinda a let down

Posted by SmashBrawler
DC Universe Online

I was also hoping for a Spectre redesign. Maybe something like DCUO's Spectre.

The art looked somewhat dated too.

Posted by BlackArmor

I liked it as a whole but it was really hard to get past the dialogue

Posted by Jake Fury

I thought the issue was pretty great personally.

Online
Posted by Queso6p4

Interesting. I was really looking forward to this as I'm a Phantom Stranger fan, but I've yet to read this issue even though I bought it earlier today. Perhaps I'll review it some time tomorrow.

Posted by Mapacherise22

Hoping this only leads to good things for The Phantom Stranger

Posted by landau_corinthian

I was looking through this at my shop, while waiting for the guy to get my stack. And it looked interesting. After reading, I wasn't disappointed. He's a flawed character and not really a hero. It's a good read.

Posted by Utandi

Hmmm, I was so excited about this book and now after the review and the user comments I'm not sure if I should buy it or not.

I think I'll give it a try...

Posted by deadpool25mm

@JayMar89 said:

i liked it but i wanted spectre to get a new look i was anticipating that so that was kinda a let down

The Phantom Stranger had a cloak in the begining but then he changed its look alittle to blend in, so maybe Spectre will change his too.

@Jake Fury said:

I thought the issue was pretty great personally.

yeah i liked it too, but its a type of comics that not everyone will like.

Edited by neiliusprime

I just picked this up just to find out more about the Phantom Stranger and I really liked how his origin was written and what his character is about. I will add this to my pull.

Posted by BKole

See, this is sort of the exactly opposite of what I thought of the issue. I really enjoyed the artwork and putting it together, I think what Didio and Anderson were trying to create was more of an old school comic - which is fine by me. I like the idea of Phantom Stranger being responsible for all these different aspects of almost...religious stuff in the DC universe, My issue, really, is with the dialogue itself. I found it to be really, really hackneyed old-school in the worst possible ways, and just...flabby. Same with Robinson's Earth-2 #0.

I'm with Phantom Stranger for the long haul, with the Dark side of the DC Universe making up about 70% of my pull list, I just felt this was too much towards the old school way of writing and over explaining everything,

Posted by Funrush

As much as I liked this issue... can someone explain to me what the hell happened with the Spectre? I don't understand his creation.

Posted by MorlockMartyr

Jesus?! Judas?! Really, Dan Didio?

I was really looking forward to this. Thanks for ruining it with biblical shenanigans, a-hole. Also, crappy art. Blech!

Posted by callmethebat

I thought the book, overall, was good and very intriguing. I am looking forward to seeing if and when the other 29 pieces of silver will fall. I am curious that I haven't seen the particular religious overtones (like a freight train really) being discussed regarding the 30 pieces of silver. Perhaps its just "make believe" but it seems pretty blatant to me that the Phantom Stranger is referenced by the biblical Judas Iscariot. "My greatest sin was the betrayal of my closest friend" and other references like being placed back in the "Field of Blood" aka Haceldama...and other rather obvious connections. Has this always been the mythos behind the character? We have a reluctant 'hero' fashioned after a biblical character that was a traitor. I am not the religious sort, but does anyone else see this?

Posted by kilowog52

I too saw the references to Judas Iscariot while reading the issue and immediately posted my thoughts to some other sites. Unlike MorlockMartyr, I thought that the Judas origin of the Stranger was good. Though I do believe that characters who debut with their origins a mystery and remain shrouded in mystery for decades should not have their definitive origin told by some writer decades later, this origin really builds on the entire Trinity of Sin and Trinity War. Unlike many of those who have posted here before me, I did not notice any unfavorable features of the artwork. Though I do usually focus on the writing. However I never did care for the Alex Ross style of artwork. I digress. Anyway what follows is the bulk of the post I put on some other sites earlier:

I don't know if this is just what DC wants you to think but all clues line up to the Phantom Stranger being Judas Iscariot, the Biblical betrayer of Jesus.

1. The Stranger admits to betraying his best friend.

2. The Stranger pleads for the council of Wizards to forgive him as He would. You can assume he speaks of God. He later uses the word His referring to the robe of his betrayed friend on the day he died.

3. The coins in the issue could be the payment Judas received from Pontius Pilate for betraying Jesus. The character spotlight at the end of the issue lists the coins as 'thirty pieces of silver' which is what the Bible says Judas was payed.

4. The Stranger mentions that Aramaic was once his preferred language.

5. According to Wikipedia, some versions of Judas' death say he hung himself. That is how the issue begins.

Aside from the fact that the Christians believe that God purposefully sacrificed Jesus for our sins as part of his plan to allow people into heaven, the betrayal of a man as influential as Jesus Christ would be looked at as quite a sin. As a member of the Trinity of Sin, it is said that the sins had to still be effecting the world today. As for Pandora, she opened the box, letting demons into the world. Judas' role in the death of Jesus allowed it to happen and out of that story spun one of the most widely known religions in the world. So that qualifies I believe. I just want to know more about this new version of the Question now. The Stranger was evil at one point but no longer is. Pandora was never evil but now will stop at nothing to accomplish her goals, rendering her evil. The Question was definitely evil. It remains to be seen whether the curse has reformed him or made the evil inside him grow. And what role will he play in Trinity War?

Posted by DocFishstick

i could not find this book. it was out at both of the comic book stores in my hometown.

Posted by Outside_85

Thought it was decent, but I do have complaints.

Needless origin changes, basically I dont see the need to give the Phantom Strange an identity beyond what he had, that was part of his charm, that we readers knew as little about him as the characters he interacted with. And I certain feel that giving him the ID of Judas is the wrong way to go, even if it serves a purpose. Then there was the Spectre, which I felt was boiled down needlessly to fit the page count...and to make PS look even more horrible. It could have been done simply by directing Corrigan to the warehouse, not directly lead him into the line of fire by the nose.

Then there is the shift in his mission that I dont like, his appearance should herald that something big was about to happen and that some people were marked out to be special in a good way. Now it appears that someone thinks PS is the man to go to when they need someone to stab someone else in the back...Judas will now have to betray people to earn redemption...am I the only one who thinks that system is fubar?

Edited by fodigg

I don't like making the Phantom Stranger into Judas Iscariot combined with the Wandering Jew. Not because they're figures from Christian mythology--I couldn't care less--but because those figures invite anti-Semitic themes. I don't think the #0 issue was in any way anti-Semitic, but they'll have to be careful going forward.

Posted by Maxman3

Does anyone find it strange that comics written by editors like Dan Dido and Paul Levitz tend to be pretty sub par and are received with such mediocre reviews yet serve as editors.