The Phantom Stranger #4

#1 Posted by inferiorego (28266 posts) - - Show Bio

The Good

We're four issues into THE PHANTOM STRANGER, and this is one of my favorite month-to-month series because this book gives us something a bit different featuring a character that we normally wouldn't expect to have an on-going series.

In this issue, Phantom Stranger is summoned to the House of Mystery by Constantine and the rest of the Justice League Dark in order to join them, while Phantom Stranger thinks the JLD will be joining him in the upcoming War of the Three. However, Constantine has a trick up his sleeve that may have Phantom Stranger changing his mind.

I really enjoy the cross-over between these characters. To me, Phantom Stranger is on a whole other level to the JLD. Working with them is like a step down, but he's not completely unreachable. It's nice seeing Constantine getting a bigger push, as a character, as well. I love seeing him in other comics, and while it was a tad weird to see him in this book, at first, I really enjoyed how Stranger and Constantine interacted with each other. Constantine comes off as a bit of a bastard here, which is what the DC version of this character needs a bit more of. He's a bit sleazier here. I liked Didio's and Dematteis' version of him a lot here.

Stranger also struggles balancing his real life with his super-natural one, which the reader can feel is just going to end badly. It's a little something extra to make this book a lot more dynamic. How does someone like Phantom Stranger do this, and more importantly, why is he doing this? To pretend to be normal for once? Nothing good can come of this.

Once again, I'm really digging the art here. It's a great mix of classic art styles with a dash of contemporary story telling and panel composition. Brent Anderson (pencils), Philip Tan & Rob Hunter (embellishments), and Ulises Arreola (colors) do a great job of easing this classic character into a new age with some art that combines the old and the new.

This is an awesome cover. Jae Lee & June Chung worked together on this one, and it gives a great sense of the events that are going to take place in this issue.

The final page of this issue is awesome. I'm super excited for issue 5 now.

The Bad

I don't like that Constantine knows everything about Phantom Stranger. It works well that he's "in the know," but having him know every aspect of Phantom Stranger's personal life just didn't work for me.

There's a scene of dialogue between Phantom Stranger and Pandora that I really didn't like. What were saying felt dated, like it came from a comic in the 80s or 90s. It didn't feel natural, and it was a bit tough to get through.

In one panel, Constantine is lighting a cigarette, and the lighting doesn't reflect that at all.

The Verdict

THE PHANTOM STRANGER is one of those books I'm drawn to. I find it so interesting on so many levels, and I feel like, for once, I am right in the trenches with other Phantom Stranger fans, since this is a character I've always wanted to know more about. I love the dynamic between Stranger and Constantine here. I can't wait to see where it fully goes.

On the down side, I didn't like how Constantine knew everything about Stranger, and some of the dialogue, later in the issue, didn't work and was awkward to read.

Overall, I really enjoyed issue four of THE PHANTOM STRANGER, and I'd recommend it, but I highly suggest picking up issues 0-3.

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