Thursday, May 8, 2014

Phantom Stranger #19 Review and *SPOILERS*

Written By: J.M. DeMatteis, Len Wein
Art By: Fernando Blanco, Norm Breyfogle
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: May 7, 2014

Living Words Hurt Too

Last issue we saw the Phantom Stranger go up against the Man of Steel, and as we all know, nobody and I mean nobody wants to fight Superman.  But this time was a necessity because Superman appeared to be haunted by the ghost of Dr. Light, and all the people he's failed to save over the years.  On top of that the issue got all Doctor Who on us with a crack in creation where these supposed ghosts came from.  But in the end we find out it's all a ruse by Sin Eater, and all is well.  Except for Zauriel the Archangel who collapsed out of nowhere, and Cassandra Craft who's books came to life in a glowing green light, but I'm sure that's normal.  Let's take a look into Phantom Stranger's world of religion and magic as we jump into this issue.

Explain It!:

So how do you fix a sick Archangel?  With all the suffering that Zauriel faced in the Thaumaton Project, and you know having his wings ripped off by Felix Faust, it's no wonder he feels a bit under the weather.  But what this means in the long run for the character I couldn't tell ya.  As far as I know a little bed rest and chicken soup and he'll be smiting things again in no time.  But we don't have time to deal with sick angels right now because there's a disturbance in the force or a crack in reality whatever one you prefer, and Dr. Thirteen pinpoints it to Cassandra Craft's bookstore in San Francisco, and since the Stranger and her were somehow love bound a few issues back by Chris Esperanza (The Spirit of Redemption), you know it's time to take a trip.  

You know your bookstore turning against you is a serious thing when Madame Xanadu comes by to check it out.  The reason she's still skulking outside is..... well the Phantom Stranger finds out when he tries to enter Instant Karma Books, and is blown back by a protection spell around the store.  It's always something when magic is involved.  So now that we saw Phantom Stranger get knocked on his ass Madame Xanadu removes the spell, and I don't know why she didn't do it before he got there.  It was kind of a dick move.  The two enter and find Cassandra Craft hovering around like a deadite from Evil Dead, and we find out that all her spell books in the store have come to life and the incantations within them are now sentient beings inhabiting her.  So the living spells whoop Phantom Strangers ass, and Madame Xanadu and him are forced to retreat to come up with a better plan than just walk in and see what's up.

Meanwhile in Heaven's basement the Sin Eater and his dog master Non are watching all the souls that still cling to the world of the living doing their thing, (mostly hovering around), and the Sin Eater declares that it's time to open the crack in creation and force the worlds of Heaven and Earth together creating chaos.  Now with all these lost souls massing around them it seems they will have an army to invade both Heaven and Earth when the two collide.  Sin Eater's part in this is apparently just to be compensated by dealing with Phantom Stranger on his own.  Kind of a raw deal, if he doesn't even get dental.

Back to the action at hand, so the crack in creation opens a bit wider and apparently turns on it's tractor beam because the Instant Karma Bookstore gets pulled from it's foundation and floats towards the crack.  Madame Xanadu sees only one solution to the problem, kill Cassandra Craft so the incantations don't have a host to keep themselves linked to the physical world.  Phantom Stranger is down with the plan for a little while but that old love bug comes a bitin' again, and he resolves to save his lady love instead.  Using his connection to Craft he lays a smooch on her, and their two consciousness's drive the incantations inside the Phantom Stranger's body, where he can dispose of them appropriately, like a human containment unit.  So the spells are gone, and let's assume that Madame Xanadu, and The Phantom Stranger used their powers to keep the bookstore from crashing down on a wicked witch below because last we saw it was just hovering towards the stratosphere.

In the end the crack closes or moves on, Zauriel woke up long enough to say that he loved someone before he passed out or died.  I didn't see Dr. Thirteen check for an angel pulse so I think we're alright, and we get a special appearance by the Spectre who needs Phantom Stranger's help to stop Heaven and Earth from colliding.  So Spectre and Phantom Stranger huh?  Well that sounds like a good time, make sure to be back here next month and we'll checkout the buddy comedy antics of these two mystical powerhouses.

Bits and Pieces:

I enjoyed this issue even if the main antagonist seemed a bit silly.  I understand that this is all a mind fuck created by The Sin Eater to dig at the Phantom Stranger, but his antics are getting tired, and I'd love to see a new villain take his place soon.  But what this issue does do is begin what sounds like a really badass story arc I can't wait to read.  I guess what I'm trying to say is that this was just an alright issue.  Nothing great, but nothing bad, so we'll stick with "alright".  Now don't let this discourage you because this is one of the best titles that seems to be forgotten by most people.  So pick it up, and get on the Phantom Stranger bandwagon.


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