The Phantom Stranger teases the tale about to unfold. A man named Mertz races down the subway tracks. Just before he is hit by the train, the Phantom Stranger rescues Mertz, seemingly sacrificing his own life in the process. Mertz, though, finds the Phantom Stranger standing right behind him on the platform. Mertz is carrying several scrolls, that he seems to believe jeopardize the fate of the world. A group of thugs close on Mertz. The Phantom Stranger steps forward to protect Mertz. A sudden wave of weakness assails the Phantom Stranger.
The thugs mercilessly beat the Phantom Stranger into unconsciousness, then abduct Mertz. The Phantom Stranger is found by Cassandra Craft, who carries him back to her place, to nurse him back to health. Upon recovery, the Phantom Stranger expresses his gratitude, then prepares to depart. Once more, he is overwhelmed by a wave of weakness, and collapses. Craft tends to the Phantom Stranger, then uses her mystical senses to try to ascertain the problem. Craft discerns a location, in Egypt, from which the Phantom Stranger can address his dilemma.
Against the Phantom Stranger's protests, Craft accompanies him on the journey. Robbed of his mystical powers, the Phantom Stranger is forced to use more mundane methods of conveyance, to travel to Egypt. Craft leads the Phantom Stranger to an archeological excavation site. The Phantom Stranger speaks with Oleander Boggs, the man in charge of the archeological expedition. Boggs is attempting to discover the lost tomb of the pharaoh, Anka-Tut. Boggs professes no knowledge of Mertz. Boggs invites the Phantom Stranger, and Craft, to remain in the camp for the night.
The Phantom Stranger, with Craft, tour the perimeter of the camp. A shadowy figure pushes a large stone down upon them. The Phantom Stranger pushes Craft out of the way, then confronts the man who attacked them. A group of men step out of the shadows, and mercilessly beat the Phantom Stranger into unconsciousness. Craft tends to the Phantom Stranger's injuries, and brings him back to Boggs. Using one of the excavated artifacts, Boggs gasses the Phantom Stranger, and Craft. The Phantom Stranger awakens within an ethereal globe of mystic energy.
Boggs reveals himself to be Tannarak. In their last encounter, Tannarak was thought slain. In reality, Tannarak was able to escape the destruction of his secret lair. During his escape, Tannarak stumbled upon a series of ancient scrolls. The scrolls served as a map to the final resting place of the mythological Phoenix. Tannarak has assembled a group of individuals sensitive to magic. From them, along with the Phantom Stranger, Tannarak has amassed enough power to summon the Phoenix. By harnessing the power of the Phoenix, Tannarak hopes to finally achieve his goal of eternal life.
Tannarak calls forth the Phoenix. Drawing off the mystic power, residing in certain artifacts in the room, the Phantom Stranger shatters the ethereal globe. The Phantom Stranger fights his way to Tannarak. Leaping upon the Phoenix, Tannarak takes to the sky. At Tannarak's command, the Phoenix rains fire down upon the Phantom Stranger. The Phantom Stranger takes command of Tannarak's mindless servants, and turns them against him. By drawing their collective mystic energies away from Tannarak, Tannarak finds he can no longer control the Phoenix. The legendary creature returns to it's grave, taking Tannarak with it. Fully restored, the Phantom Stranger takes his leave of Craft, though not before kissing her, passionately, goodbye.
This story was originally published in Star Spangled Comics #124 (January, 1952). A plot synopsis for this story can be found at the link.
This story was originally published in House Of Mystery #3 (April, 1952). A plot synopsis for this story can be found at the link.