Entranced, Cyrus Hatton walks out to his car. When his son, Billy, asks to play catch with him, Hatton hands the boy one hundred dollars. Disturbed by Hatton's behavior, Billy follows his father. Hatton drives his car into a light post, and burns to death before his son's eyes. Billy races to pull his father from the burning wreckage, only to be stopped by the Phantom Stranger. Billy reveals his father's fate to his mother. Suddenly, Hatton walks into the house. Still, entranced, Hatton tells his family that an ancient totem pole has given him nine lives. The mystery reminds the Phantom Stranger of a prior case.
This story was originally published in Phantom Stranger #1 (August, 1952). A synopsis for this story can be found at the link.
After telling his tale, the Phantom Stranger mysteriously vanishes. Billy finds a suicide note from his father. Billy contacts the police. Billy, and the police, arrive, too late, to stop Hatton from throwing himself off a bridge. Doctor Terrence Thirteen, the Ghost-Breaker, and his wife, Marie, witness Hatton's suicide. Thirteen dives into the river, hoping that Hatton may still be alive. A barge prevents Thirteen from reaching Hattton. Men on the barge fish Hatton's corpse out of the river. Thirteen, and Marie, escort Billy home. Once again, Hatton walks into the house, still very much alive. Billy shows Thirteen the totem pole that gives his father nine lives. The mystery reminds Thirteen of a prior case.
This story was originally published in Star-Spangled Comics #128 (May, 1952). A synopsis for this story can be found at the link.
Hatton unveils a stone obelisk. The obelisk collapses on top of Hatton. Suddenly, the Phantom Stranger appears, pushing Hatton to safety. Thirteen arrives. For once, Thirteen and the Phantom Stranger agree on a case. Escorting Hatton home, Hatton reveals the truth about what's been happening to him. In exchange for construction contracts, Hatton agreed to use cheap materials, and split the profits with the mob. The deal sits poorly with Hatton. After completing one contract, Hatton opts out of the deal. Mister Big has Hatton hypnotized by Ramu-Guru.
Hatton is hypnotized into believing he has nine lives. Hatton is compelled to commit suicide twice, to establish his story in the papers. Then, Mister Big orchestrates Hatton's actual death, at the unveiling of the stone obelisk. Learning that Hatton survived, Mister Big sends gunmen to murder Hatton. The Phantom Stranger, and Thirteen, take the gunsels down. Interrogating the criminals, the Phantom Stranger, and Thirteen, learn the details of how Mister Big was able to fake Hatton's death, the first two times. With Mister Big's organization broken, Hatton will be able to live out his one, and only life, in peace.