Friday, March 26, 2010

Single Issue Hall of Fame: The Phantom #74

Is this the greatest American Phantom comic book story every published? Probably. I'd even go so far as to say it is one of the best standalone comic books of the 1970s. I know that my good friend Tim in Idaho ranks this as his all-time favourite comic book, as he's read quite a few. It is an incredible story written and beautifully illustrated by the late, great Don Newton. I don't think I've ever seen Newton produce better work and it holds up quite well on Charlton's sub par paper. I think it was pretty cool that Newton decided to do a story with some real guts in the months leading up to the Bicentennial celebrations. In this tale, the Phantom takes his fight against the slave trade all the way to Philadelphia where he has a pretty interesting chat with Benjamin Franklin. Sadly, this was the final issue of the Charlton series, but at least they went out on top. The Newton Phantom issues are consistently great and are, therefore, pretty pricey to track down. I'd love it if someone would acquire a license and put out of trade of the Newton years as well as the Skeates/Aparo years, but that's another entry altogether.


Guido Rosas said...

I've liked The Phantom ever since I saw him in the comic strips as a child. However, the lack of readily available material via reprints -and his scattered publishing history- has prevented me from getting familiar with him.

I wonder if Moonstone, who currently owns the comic book publishing rights, has access to the Charlton stuff. I'd be a lot more interested in checking that out than the current stuff.

The Ghost Who Blogs said...

Scott: Phantom#74 is one of the best of the Charlton run, if not THE best. A close contender may be issue #70, The Mystery of the Mali Ibex With its gorgeous Don Newton Art, it breaks your heart to know it's the last issue.

I, too, wish someone would reprint these in one big volume. You can see several Charlton Phantoms reprinted in their entirety on my blog:

Feel free to delete this shameless plug after reading.

Guido: Moonstone's license expires in June or July of this year. Dynamite will be taking over from there.

Ed said...

Scott, Prince Hal here.
So glad to see someone else recognizes this issue as a simply a great comic, let alone a great Phantom comic. Well written, engaging story, excellent (as always) Newton art.

Previous poster mentioned the homage to Casablanca...another wonderful story. The generations of Phantoms meant similar clever story possibilities. I was hoping it would catch on, but, oh wel...

If only these had been printed on paper that still didn't have chunks of wood floating in them. >Sigh<

Godzylla said...

I remember this was the first Phantom I picked up on the newsstand. The cover was so striking and it was an amazing comic. I looked long for (non-existent) subsequent issues. I have aquired most of the Aparo and Newton Phantoms via eBay and simply adore the work of both artists in their primes. (Don is one of my favorite artists; we lost him far too soon.)

Scott M said...

I dig the Mali Ibex story as well - it was a lot of fun.

I had a friend on my street with a couple of these Charlton Phantoms - we would have been maybe 3 or 4 years old. It was all way over our heads, but that costume has always stuck with me - and the painted covers certainly made an impression.

Paul McCall said...

I agree, best Phantom comic ever.