Late last night, I read Dynamite’s first issue of “The Phantom.” The Brian Clevinger and Brent Schoonover story reminded me of a time in my youth when I wasn’t thinking about pull lists or ongoing story arcs. It was a simpler time where I read the comic books that I liked with little to no regard for continuity. If it was written and drawn well, I’d buy it. If the book didn’t appeal to my sensibilities, I wouldn’t bother with it. Lately, as I’ve dropped a few mainstream titles off of my pull-list, I’ve begun searching for new titles to replace them with. I’ve found an immense admiration for Dynamite and the books they release such as The Shadow, John Carter Warlord of Mars, and Justice Inc. They are all great pulp characters, still alive today, thanks to the good people at Dynamite. It’s a shame that most of these books are overlooked as people tend to be drawn more towards the likes of The Amazing Spider-Man and The Flash (ongoing, not Season Zero.) And so it hit me, instead of choosing to review a book that would still be read without my two cents, how about turning my attention to a title that may be picked up after someone comes across this review once it’s out in the internet verse. And so, here is my humble take on a pretty humble story by… a pretty humble creative team – Brian Clevinger and Brent Schoonover.
“The Phantom” issue 1 introduces us to a world devastated by a “merciless conqueror” who attacked Earth. While I have not read what happened before, I’m fairly certain it’s Ming the Merciless of Flash Gordon. It appears as if The Phantom (The Ghost Who Walks) died during this invasion and has left the world with one less pulp hero to protect it. The new take on the pulp hero universe is interesting in that it borrows elements from Marvel and DC’s connected universes and why shouldn’t it? I applaud Dynamite and writer Brian Clevinger on their decisions to add The Phantom into a larger world of heroes. After all, he was once one of the “Defenders of the Earth.”
“The Phantom” issue 1 introduces us to The Ghost Who Walks. For those that have been fans of the character, be it from the comics, the movie(s), or the cartoons – he is still recognizable. For those jumping onto this title for the first time – it’s a great issue that creates a fun adventure filled with everything we love about comic books. Clevinger and Schoonover, by page 5, deliver an excellent setup that asks “What is The Phantom?” The basis for this first issue does not follow the exploits of the twenty-third Phantom, but the adventures of the man searching for him. Schoonover draws the characters and story in a way that feels true to what the character is all about. Lother Kehwabe, the man who searches for Walker, feels like an everyman and a hero readers will readily support. It’s important for Kehwabe to work as a character as it seems as if we will be reading about him for a little while. And fret not, all the characteristics of The Phantom are still intact. The Ghost Who Walks still rides to eradicate piracy, greed, and cruelty.
The art by Brent Schoonover borders on a Chris Samnee, Christopher Mooneyham style (of Daredevil and Five Ghosts, respectively.) Schoonover’s art feels like it follows in the same tradition and as long as he keeps this up, “The Phantom” will be one worth reading for the art alone.
I liked “King: The Phantom” issue 1. It’s the kind of issue that is exciting enough to warrant a curiosity into the larger Dynamite Comics universe. As I’ve been looking for a title to add to my pull list, as I’m older now and do care about these things that help out the comic industry, “King: The Phantom” will now be a title I read monthly along with the other pulp characters Dynamite has. I strongly suggest Clevinger and Schoonover’s series for anyone that enjoys a well done comic book.
“King: The Phantom” issue 1 gets four out of five stars.
King the Phantom #1 (of 4)
Writer: Clevinger, Brian
Artist: Schoonover, Brent
Cover Artist: Cooke, Darwyn
Format: LIMITED SERIES
On Sale: 01/28/15