Thursday, April 3, 2014

Phantom Stranger #18 Review and *SPOILERS*

Written By: J.M. DeMatteis
Art By: Fernando Blanco, Norm Breyfogle
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: March 2, 2014

When Kryptonian's Cry

Here we are yet again, looking at a book that's out of order in continuity, and leaves me scratching my head, and looking like an idiot.  It's not as bad as some other titles, but this issue takes place after Forever Evil, and I have no idea how that ends yet.  When last we left The Phantom Stranger, the JLD, and him had defeated Felix Faust, The Son's of Trigon, and escaped Project Thaumaton before it was whisked away to another dimension.  So there aren't any real spoilers in this issue to give away what happened in Forever Evil #7, with the exception that Superman is in this issue, and the Crime Syndicate are gone.  So we'll take a gander into the future and see what happens post Forever Evil.

Explain It!:

I'll begin by telling you that this story might as well be a continuation of Action Comics #30, so if you want to find out the info on that book, check out the review first, or buy it.  You know whatever.  Okay, so Forever Evil: Blight is over, and it seems like Phantom Stranger and Zauriel are hanging their hats at good ol' Dr. Thirteen's house.  Hanging out, shooting the shit, and discussing the meaning of good and evil.  You know guy stuff.  But all that manly bonding gets put on hold when Doc Thirteen finds a mystical disturbance in a city where there usually isn't any.  Oh you guessed it, Phantom Stranger is off to Metropolis to hang out with the big blue, and to find out what all the hub bub is about.

Once in Metropolis, Phantom Stranger sees what the problem is.  Now this is going to be a stretch to try and explain, because I don't know the definite answer either because Forever Evil #7 isn't out yet, so bare with me here.  Remember the giant crack that formed in the sky, which we all thought would be the entrance to the thing that destroyed Earth 3?  Well that's still around, and it's pouring ghosts out of it.  Dr. Light and a bunch of other spookies are haunting Superman, you know for killing them, or not saving them.  Phantom Stranger tries telling Superman that this isn't really Doc Light, and it's some entity using Superman's guilt as an anchor to this world.  Once they're anchored they'll be able to pry the crack in the universe open more and completely come through.  But being the big ol' boy scout that Supes is, he can't let go of the guilt for not saving all the people of Metropolis, and also for burning a hole through Doctor Light's face.

Phantom Stranger grows to a enormous size to try and explain the matter to Superman a little more sternly, and somehow Superman flies through him, and Phantom Stranger feels it physically, and metaphysically.  Remember when Dr. Thirteen said there was a mystical disturbance?  Well he was talking about Superman.  While he's not mystical in the proper sense, the fact that millions of people think about Superman as their symbol for hope, and put their faith in him, this has created a psychic mass around him.  That just seems really badass.  Vulnerable to magic?  Fuck that, psychic mass like Santa Clause and shit.  Take that Black Adam.  Sorry got lost in my own head for a second.

So Superman finds an empty warehouse to meet his final fate from all the people he couldn't save, and even with Phantom Stranger's disapproval, he stands tall to accept his punishment, and burn for the sins he's committed.  The spirits surround our hero and burn him in green fire.  But don't worry, after all that Superman simply stands back up, and says he's fine, he accepts his guilt, and will make peace with it.  Now I really like this issue, but WTF?  After all that, yeah I'm fine now.  It's just kind of a let down.  So Superman loses his guilt, and his will forces all the spirits back into the crack and seals it up.  But we're not done here yet. We find out that the Dr. Light ghost, was really the Sin Eater, and collapses the warehouse down on our heroes, before disappearing.  Phantom Stranger tells Superman that he'll take care of the Sin Eater, and the two part ways.

In the end we jump to San Francisco to check in on Cassandra Craft, who can't get The Phantom Stranger out of her mind.  There's something romantic going on, but she can't explain it.  Her thoughts of the Stranger are interrupted when the books in her store spring to life and start flying around while telling her that the Stranger will be at her side very soon.  Luckily she doesn't own a knife shop.  That's it for this month's Phantom Stranger, hopefully we'll get all the answers to our questions when Forever Evil #7 drops.

Bits and Pieces:

While I really enjoyed the issue, I found the conclusion to be a little too simple.  Really cool build up, but since Superman's in this issue, all the hard work the Stranger would of had to do to get the job done, Superman simply says it's over, and it's done.  It's good to be out of Forever Evil: Blight, and back into a normal Phantom Stranger story.  I can't wait to see where Phantom Stranger ends up, and what kind of trouble he gets into on the way there.  Decent issue, go check it out, and get a little strange.


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