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The Phantom Stranger #5 - Noble Vengeance Review

4

The Phantom Stranger and the Spectre go head to head in a battle that can only result in one literally eating the other!

The Good

THE PHANTOM STRANGER may be one of my favorite DC books that I refuse to admit is my favorite. Confused? I wouldn't call it a "guilty pleasure" because this isn't a bad book by any means, so I don't feel guilty about enjoying it. We finally get to see some Spectre in this issue, and he and Stranger go head to head and then end up meeting the creator of everything or God (whatever you want to call it) and this creator has a fondness for Scottish Terriers.

Spectre gets a big of a redesign here. Not too much is changed, but now he has black pants and some metal abdomen protector thingy. I don't know what it's for, maybe people are trying to shank him, but it looks pretty darn cool. I like how the character was handled here as well. Sure, he comes off as a bit of a whiny brat, but it's completely fitting for the situation he's in. He's been confronted with the man who made Corrigan into the Spectre, so of course, he's going to be quite emotional. This issue gives new readers a glimpse into just how powerful The Spectre is. He's on another level. He's not just some guy in a cape. He can bend reality.

This issue also has quite a bit of The Question in it. As I've said in the past, these characters are all a tad foreign to me (Not so much The Spectre), so I have a bit of the new reader mentality when I see these characters. I don't really know what The Question was like prior to this book except when Renee Montoya was working under that guise, but I really enjoy what I read with this character here. Yes, it is a tad cheesy that The Question only speaks in questions, but that's also one of the charms about the character, much like how Etrigan rhymes all the time. We're seeing more players in the upcoming Trinity War, and frankly, I'm getting excited.

By the end of the issue when we meet the creator of all, god, whatever, it says what we're all thinking, "quit acting like a bunch of spoiled brats with awesome powers." Up until that point, I was getting a tad annoyed with some of this fighting, simply because it felt childish. This puppy put everything into perspective for the characters. It's a really cool moment, and I love the fact this god has an awesome sense of humor. Dan Didio and J.M. Demateis have put together a great story here with a sense of fun.

I've said it in the past few (in fact, every month I say this) issues, but I really enjoy the clash of classic and contemporary with this art team. Brent Anderson, Philip Tan, and Rob Hunter work together incredibly well to create this unique, yet comforting and classic, art style.

I know it's in the back of EVERY DC book this week, but I really like the Channel 52 news, mainly because Ambush Bug and Calendar Man are finally apart of the New 52.

The Bad

My main complaint, which has been a consistent complaint about this series is that, at times, the dialogue can get pretty cheesy. There's a scene where Spectre eats Phantom Stranger and moments later, it's revealed that the Stranger is still alive. Spectre, shocked, says "What...? Impossible! I devoured you! Erased you from existence!" The dialogue between the two is heavy while they're fighting, which is one of my least favorite things about comics during the 90s, but at least they're not explaining their powers while they're fighting.

The Verdict

I love this book. Sadly, I keep forgetting to put it on my Top of the Pile list every month, but it's one of my favorite reads. It's a book I get excited about because I know it's an aspect of the DCU I've never known too much about and I feel like I'm on the same page with the rest of the DC fanbase.

This was probably one of my favorite issues from this series, thus far. I love the Spectre, and even though he's not the Spectre I am used to, I still really like the character. I love the story and art, and I always like talking dogs... Well, almost always. Overall, I'm a big fan of this book, and I recommend it.

21 Comments
Posted by EnSabahNurX

I'm surprised how much I've enjoyed this series O_O I look forward to picking up this issue. I agree that the dialogue tends to be a little over the top, but it seems to work oddly enough in this series XD 

Posted by Fantasgasmic

I liked this book but the Spectre came off as a jerk. Spectre is supposed to be the spirit of Divine Justice, and Eclipso was the spirit of Divine Wrath, this book made Spectre seem more villainous, in destruction than justice. Maybe it's because I don't read Team 7 so I didn't see how Eclipso was rebooted.

Edited by inferiorego

@Fantasgasmic said:

I liked this book but the Spectre came off as a jerk. Spectre is supposed to be the spirit of Divine Justice, and Eclipso was the spirit of Divine Wrath, this book made Spectre seem more villainous, in destruction than justice. Maybe it's because I don't read Team 7 so I didn't see how Eclipso was rebooted.

That was a problem for me, up until God Dog came in and told Spectre he's being ridiculous. Corrigan is still new to being the Spectre and doesn't understand his purpose.

Well, up until God Dog said, "I created each of you for a singular purpose. You, Spectre, to be the the mirror not of my wrath----but of my desire for justice."

Staff
Posted by Outside_85

This book has just improved so much by adding DeMatteis its hard for me to look back on the issues without him with any favour. (Ok, the first issue wasnt bad...but the Strangers family hadn't been properly added yet to drag it down).

@Fantasgasmic: @inferiorego: The Stranger actually did explain why the Spectre was behaving like that. And it was because it's not really the Spectre that's acting up, its Corrigan (whos always been an angry tosser) with the Spectre's powers. (Eclipso remains mostly unchanged by the looks of it, even if he is not been connected to Bruce Gordon yet.)

Posted by Loki9876

I would want to see the new 52 spectre design.

Posted by cagedleo730

@Outside_85 said:

This book has just improved so much by adding DeMatteis its hard for me to look back on the issues without him with any favour. (Ok, the first issue wasnt bad...but the Strangers family hadn't been properly added yet to drag it down).

@Fantasgasmic: @inferiorego: The Stranger actually did explain why the Spectre was behaving like that. And it was because it's not really the Spectre that's acting up, its Corrigan (whos always been an angry tosser) with the Spectre's powers. (Eclipso remains mostly unchanged by the looks of it, even if he is not been connected to Bruce Gordon yet.)

Eclipso has been connectd to "Bruce Gordon" as shown in Catwoman 16 (yeah that book sucked). in that issue Bruce Gordon is the alias of Alex Montez (scientist in the Float prison in Team 7's first arc). It was Montez who hired Catwoman to steal the Black Diamond from the Black Room (horribly written 2 part arc)

Posted by dondave

@Loki9876:It's the same as the old one

Posted by Loki9876

@dondave: ow lol he said there were some changes

Posted by ccraft

Great issue, I havent seen this come up in a review or I just forgot, but i'm pretty sure Phantom Stranger is Judas And I don't tthink I should even put a spoiler on it since its so obvious.

Posted by ccraft

@inferiorego: I was gonna say that, but not as well written. I also don't much about these characters, but I like how they are in the New 52. The Question was so dumb on the cartoon, and my sister fueled my hatred of the character, by saying stuff like "Huntress and The Question OTP." But I do have to admit that I do like the new 52 version of these characters, Phantom Stranger, Question, Pandora, Spectre, and Dr. 13.

Posted by Azrael66

The Question?

Epic.

Posted by dondave

@Loki9876: My bad, in the 0 issue of Phantom Strabger he has the same costume as the previous spectre, but it in #5 he's now wearing trousers

Posted by Loki9876

@dondave: hey thanks, dude

Posted by dondave

@ccraft said:

Great issue, I havent seen this come up in a review or I just forgot, but i'm pretty sure Phantom Stranger is Judas And I don't tthink I should even put a spoiler on it since its so obvious.

It's pretty much said in the #0 when they throw his silver coins back at him and he said he betrayed his closest friend and hung himself reminiscent of Judas Iscariot

Posted by AtPhantom

The whole Judas thing is still completely terrible.

Posted by mk111

Must say, I love the cover-art for this comic.

Posted by doordoor123

@AtPhantom said:

The whole Judas thing is still completely terrible.

Agreed. I wasn't going to read this book on that alone, but my curiosity got the best of me. I've been enjoying this, but I hate religious references. Which is weird because I love Archer and Armstrong and with that I am fine with the religious stuff. I guess I just don't like to see it in the DCU.

Posted by The Stegman

I really want to read this title..but I really can't afford any more to add to my pull, definitely will get the trade though.

Posted by AtPhantom

@doordoor123 said:

Agreed. I wasn't going to read this book on that alone, but my curiosity got the best of me. I've been enjoying this, but I hate religious references. Which is weird because I love Archer and Armstrong and with that I am fine with the religious stuff. I guess I just don't like to see it in the DCU.

I'm not opposed to religious references in general. The Spectre is one of my favorite characters and his books are chock full of them. But the issue with the Phantom Stranger specifically is that he's mysterious. He's an anomaly. An unknown. The fact that we don't know anything about him is part of his charm. It doesn't matter what he is or where he comes from. What matters is that he will always be there for us when we need him, to give us a little push a nothing more. Giving the Stranger and origin story is the single greatest mistake you can make with him, because here we have a character we known nothing about, and now you've told us basically everything about him. It runs completely against what the Phantom Stranger is and what he's supposed to do.

And I'm not opposed to the Judas origin as a concept. The greatest traitor looking for absolution is a neat idea, but it's a completely wrong origin for the Stranger, whose story was never about absolution or paying your dues. Shoehorning guilt and sin into a character who is arguably the purest expression of hope in DCU seems like a rather bad idea to me. Also, that council of wizards/gods/whatever were completely lame and I hope the Spectre eats them sometime soon.

Posted by MuyJingo

I couldn't get into this book ever since they made The Phantom Stranger Judas.

Posted by mightypug78

that cover is pure "wow"