As the issue opens, a bunch of children huddle around a candle in a cave, talking about a “curse” that is about to hit the city. The Phantom Stranger appears, and hopes to puts the children at ease with a story.
Phantom Stranger - “The Three Signs of Evil…”
In Columbus Circle in New York City, a group of sorcerers gather to make use of the full moonlight, using symbols on a board. Artist Mark Davis comes passing by, and unknowingly sketches out the symbols as his newest work of art. The sorcerers catch notice, and believe Davis will interrupt their plans. The sorcerers ambush Davis at Times Square, but the assault is interrupted by the Phantom Stranger. The Stranger tries to deduce the meaning of the assault, and finds that each of the attackers wields ancient weapons.
When the Stranger takes a look at Davis’ painting, he realizes that the symbols represent Columbus Circle, Times Square, and Washington Square. Each of these three locations must be part of their plans. Stranger and Davis investigate Washington Square. Stranger asks Davis to wait outside while he looks around, but once Stranger leaves, Davis is kidnapped and brought below the Square. The sorcerers plan on sacrificing Davis, but the Stranger interrupts. Stranger knocks out the “sorcerers,” but disappears just as the cops show up.
Reprinted from The Phantom Stranger v1 #2
Back in the present, as the Stranger finishes up his story, he disappears. The kids are amazed, and look for him. They find a couple, who ask what happened. When the couple discover the kids are looking for Phantom Stranger, their ears perk up. The man is Dr. Terrence Thirteen, and he has an interest in finding the Stranger. When the kids ask who he is, Dr. Thirteen tells them a story of why he disproves ghosts.
Dr. 13 the Ghost-Breaker – “I Talked with the Dead!”
Before his father’s death, Dr. Thirteen made a deal that they would meet up five years after his death. If ghosts were real, then this would prove it. The night before, Dr. Thirteen arrives at Doomsbury Hall. As he approaches the manor, the fog reveals a woman: Dr. Thirteen’s fiancée Marie. Marie tries to talk Terry out of the meeting, but Terry is adamant.
While in the manor, waiting for midnight to strike, Dr. Thirteen thinks back to his father. He remembers a time his father showed him portraits of family members all unluckily killed, and when he told Terry about the Curse of the Thirteen: a family curse due to their last name. Young Terry refused to believe in the supernatural, and the two agreed to a set of questions that Terry would be able to ask his dead father five years after his death. Three years later, Terry’s father died when his car ran off a cliff. People blamed the curse again, but Terry still did not believe in it. Over the years, Terry became Dr. Thirteen: Ghost-Breaker, and set his life to disprove the supernatural.
Reprinted from Star-Spangled Comics v1 #122
As the clock in Doomsbury Hall strikes, Dr. Thirteen jumps. It is now midnight, and he hears a haunting sound. Sure enough, the voice of his father floats into the room. The voice answers all the pre-agreed questions correctly, but Terry is still suspicious. He discovers a speaker hooked up to the grandfather clock, timed to go off. He discovers the culprit: Marie. Terry’s father made Marie promise to do it to convince Terry that the curse is real, and for him to be careful.
Back in the present, Dr. Thirteen reveals to the kids that his wife is Marie, his former fiancée. Then, the Stranger reappears, and jibes Terry for not believing in the supernatural. A sound from outside the cave draws everyone out, where they find a flying beast above the city: the “curse” that the children feared. Dr. Thirteen, though, points out a mechanical sound coming from the beast. Stranger disappears, and appears within the beast; the beast is a flying machine helmed by a criminal causing a distraction for his gang to rob the town. Stranger proves the beast fake, and disappears, with Dr. Thirteen swearing that one day he will prove the Stranger fake as well.