The Phantom Stranger teases the tale about to unfold. A young woman, Gola, contemplates suicide. The Phantom Stranger talks her down from the bridge. Gola takes the Phantom Stranger's hand, and fells him with a burst of psychic energy. A private ambulance drives up, out of the mist. At the behest of Doctor Nathan Seine, two thugs place the Phantom Stranger's body in a coffin. Seine returns to his estate. While Seine's goons attend to the Phantom Stranger, Seine checks on his wife, Margaret.
Seine carefully checks over the machines preserving Margaret's life. In horrific agony, Margaret begs Seine to let her die. Seine refuses. Seine reflects on his past. A brilliant biochemist, Seine was held back by his crippling insecurity. Mustering up enough courage to ask Margaret to marry him, Seine found new confidence, with Margaret at his side. Seine's life turned for the better, but his subconscious need to have Margaret near became an obsession.
Seine took Margaret on as a laboratory assistant, despite her complete lack of experience. A chemical explosion in the laboratory nearly ends Margaret's life. Seine, refusing to let Margaret go, designed special machines to maintain her terrible existence. Seine's machines, though, could only delay the inevitable. Margaret was still going to die. Unwilling to face a future without Margaret, Seine abandoned science, and desperately turned to the occult for a solution.
Seine summoned forth demons from Hell, who promised to restore Margaret's life, in exchange for passage into the mortal realm. At the demons' behest, Seine crafted a soul-stealing gemstone, designed to power a gateway between Earth and Hell. A mere human soul, though, proved too weak to sustain the gateway. The demons told Seine to seek out the Phantom Stranger, for only his soul would be powerful enough to allow them passage into the mortal realm. Margaret again begs Seine to end her suffering.
Seine checks on the Phantom Stranger, only to find him vanished from the coffin. The Phantom Stranger confronts Seine. The Phantom Stranger quickly subdues Seine's goons. Gola binds the Phantom Stranger in life draining chains, that rob the Phantom Stranger of his consciousness. The Phantom Stranger awakes in chains. The Phantom Stranger attempts to reason with Seine, to no avail. The Phantom Stranger attempts to reason with Gola, but Seine informs him that Gola is merely a mystical automaton, built from sand and spells.
Seine begins to siphon off the Phantom Stranger's soul. The gateway begins to open. With Herculean effort, Margaret fights back against her pain, stumbles forward and releases the Phantom Stranger. Seine orders Gola to subdue the Phantom Stranger, but this time, the Phantom Stranger is ready for her. Gola is reduced to the sand she was cast from. Seine charges the Phantom Stranger. Slipping on the sand, Seine falls into the soul gem, shattering it. The Phantom Stranger's soul flows back into him, as the gateway closes. Margaret dies, her suffering finally at an end. Seine vows vengeance on the Phantom Stranger.
Howard Lunge uses the most sophisticated computer ever constructed to plan crimes. His first is designated "Operation Frame-Up". Joel Dubbish meets with a man named Jarret. Dubbish is given a package to open, by Jarret. Inside the package is a gun. Jarret asks Dubbish to take the gun, while asking him psychological questions. Dubbish is told to put the gun back in the box. Jarret throws Dubbish a lighter, and asks him to ignite it. The lighter blows up. Jarret takes back the lighter, then enters his office. A police officer enters, investigating the sound of a gunshot.
Dubbish tells the officer it was merely a cigarette lighter. The officer enters Jarret's office, and discovers Jarret dead, of a gunshot wound. Outside on the street, "Jarret" removes his lifelike mask. With Dubbish's fingerprints on the murder weapon, and powder burns sustained from the exploding lighter on Dubbish's hand, Dubbish has been masterfully framed for Jarret's murder. The Black Orchid attacks Jarret's real murderer, Mister Flint. The Black Orchid orders Flint to clear Dubbish's name. Flint radios his superiors. Flint is ordered to burn the mask. Flint triggers the mask's incendiary device.
The Black Orchid goes after the mask, but the evidence is reduced to ash within seconds. Flint is gunned down in a drive-by shooting. The Black Orchid goes after the killers, who are astonished by her bullet-proof skin. The Black Orchid abandons the chase, leaving behind her calling card, a black orchid. Flint's killers report to Lunge. Within the black orchid, Lunge finds a note, addressed to him. The Black Orchid knows everything about Lunge's criminal operation, and orders him to clear Dubbish's name. Lunge asks his computer to reveal the secret identity of the Black Orchid.