The Phantom Stranger 12
J. M. DeMatteis, Fernando Blanco
Forever Evil Crossover
Spoiler alert! You have been warned!
The Phantom Stranger continues to be one of the most unusual and interesting characters currently on the stands. Which is amazing to me as a lifelong DC fan, because I literally had no interest at all whatsoever in him before the relaunch of the DC Universe under the New 52 banner. Credit where credit is due, the interesting new origin story from Dan DiDio and Geoff Johns peaked my interest. But I’ll be completely honest: It’s J. M. DeMatteis and his almost Shakespearean dialogue. It’s now not only one of the more original concepts in superhero comics coming out these days, but also one of the smartest. Add to this the fact that the artwork of Fernando Blanco is nothing short of incredible and the potential new readers being launched into the series because of the crossover tie-ins (first with Trinity War and now with Forever Evil).
This issue deals primarily with the consequences of the Phantom Stranger’s recent actions. But it does so in such a dark and gloomy way that this series is almost starting to feel like a horror comic. This is a good thing. Between Doctor Thirteen’s suicide attempt and subsequent revival and the constant talks of Heaven and Hell (and everything else), the series is taking on a spiritual twist that I at first dreaded, but have come to not only expect, but actually quite enjoy. The casual mention of characters like Zauriel, Deadman, Dr. Light, Katana, and Batman ground this book in the DC Universe superhero-filled world, but there’s a lot more depth to the world of the Phantom Stranger than just capes and good guys and bad guys with powers. And the current antagonist (because are there really heroes and villains in a book about creation and the afterlife?) is absolutely terrifying. It wasn’t enough to watch the Stranger be exiled from Heaven, Hell, and be forced to walk the Earth for yet another ambiguous amount of lifetimes. Now, the Sin Eater had to burn his house, his memories, his life, to the ground. Literally.
What else can happen next? He’s lost everything, or so it seems. But that is the beauty of this smart series. There’s always something shocking and new right around the corner. I really hope that sales increase due to the Forever Evil tie-ins and more people start picking up this book. As of right now, I’m one of a very select few at my own local comic shop who not only reads this issue and enjoys it, but actually purchases it every month. It’s slowly becoming one of my favorites, and this is a very welcome surprise. There’s nothing better than having good creators change your opinions on characters you never used to like. I hope that others start feeling the same way soon so I have someone to talk to about this great title.
My Rating: 4.5/5