Thursday, August 19, 2010

This Just In!

Dynamite's The Last Phantom is not very good.

This rant contains SPOILERS.

Scribe Scott Beatty was no doubt charged with creating a "new take" on the Ghost-Who-Walks for a "new generation" of readers or some such.  And things start out pretty decently in that direction, too.  We are introduced to a new take on Kit ("Kitteridge") Walker, a man who helps the African nation of "Bengali" through fundraising and awareness.  His wife is an African doctor, and their son, Mobi, helps her as she gives medical aid to remote villages.  We also see that one of his colleagues and confidants is conspiring against him, and makes his move to eliminate Kit.

And then everything comes off the rails.  In short order, Kit's family is murdered by mercenaries in invisible tech-suits (it's subtly implied that his wife is raped for good measure), and Kit's plane is blown up with a bomb, with him thought dead in the jungle.  And so he puts on a loincloth, pulls out twin automatics, and, yes, covers himself in blood to set out to get revenge.

Where do I begin?  Why bother to introduce such an intriguing familial setup, ripe with potential, just to throw it all away?  Why make the Phantom just another wronged hero out for revenge?  Did we really need to rape his wife to drive home how nasty these guys are?  What kind of Phantom would protect his land through raising money and foresake his ancestry?  What the hell is up with wearing BLOOD as a costume?!  The list of queries goes on and on.

This is especially frustrating in light of the way that Moonstone has handled the character for the last several years, which built upon what Lee Falk had created, but still managed to be modern and timely -- without going completely bonkers like this comic does.  The Phantom is not a blood-soaked (literally!) avenger.  He is the protector and defender of the jungles, of his people, and of his family.  After reading this last night, I told my wife that I'm done with Phantom comics once the last few Moonstone issues come out... at least until we get some version of the Ghost-Who-Walks which is recognizable as such.  What a waste.


Doug said...

Sounds like they're trying to out-Sable Jon Sable.

I've never gotten into the Phantom much, I can understand your frustration here, Luke.

Diabolu Frank said...

I may have ordered the first issue, but no more. I read a positive(ish) review of this at Newsarama, but they made no mention of thoroughly turning their backs on everything the Phantom represents. You know, the rest of the world adores the character-- building him theme parks and everything. If this is what it takes to make it in America, we deserve to be taken over by the Chinese.

Luke said...

I am trying to take this as an opportunity -- to track down the back issues, specials, and OGNs which Moonstone published for The Phantom which I do not own. And there's a pretty good amount of it, believe you me.

Jermayn said...

Think you need to get off your soap box a bit mate!!

Yes the story has more holes than a Swiss cheese but not the holes your pointing out.

1) it is not blood but berry juice - why else would he grind the juice in the bowl? If it was blood, he would have just dipped his fingers in the dead peoples bodies.

He did it (imo) to represent the custome which was originally berry soaked clothe and he could not wear his business suit could he?

2) how was it implied that the wife was raped?
3) he never gave up his call as the Phantom (why he carried his guns, rings in the suitcase). He thought he could look after the Bengali people in a different way. Yes he was wrong.

I agree DE need to do a lot better than what they offered in #1 and it is not just Alex Ross who can save the saga but personally I will give them at least 4-6 issues before I jump on or off the ship.

Luke said...

It's berry juice, you are right about that. But it still looks ridiculous!

The defensive wounds on her hands, coupled with the way which the invisible assailant takes down Kit's wife are shorthand for "rape." Watch just about any episode of Law & Order: SVU and you'll hear the phrase "defensive wounds." It's a cliche at this point.

And regarding the defense of the Bengali people, sorry, but the Phantom being a "limosine liberal" with a checkbook is not exactly an idea I can get behind. Throw money at a problem? Considering the very harsh issues which were spelled out to be plaguing the country?

And frankly, this is my soapbox -- it's got my name on it and everything! After the phenomenal run from the folks at Moonstone, Dynamite didn't just drop the ball, then then fumbled it and gave up a touchdown. Sorry, dude, but this is a disaster.