Thursday, September 4, 2014

Phantom Stranger: Futures End #1 Review and *SPOILERS*

Written By: Dan Didio, J.M. DeMatteis
Art By: Phil Winslade
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: September 3, 2014

The Final Judgement

So even though we just had the final issue of Phantom Stranger, it looks like we're given a bonus story from the land of Five Years From Now.  Now as most readers will know, this is the section where I usually recap the last issue, but it's Futures End and no recap is really needed.  What I will do though is give you a brief description of the Stranger in case for some reason you don't already know.  The Phantom Stranger is in fact Judas Iscariot, who after betraying the lamb of god was judged by the Council of Eternity to walk the world as a stranger witnessing it's greed and betrayal.  That is until the Presence itself tasks the Stranger with missions to ensure that the Presence's plan continues.  Mostly this meant betraying people, but for every task completed one of the silver coins he received for betraying Jesus would fall off of him and with it a bit of the guilt and pain would be relieved.  So let's check out how the Stranger is fairing Five Years From Now and see how this story will end his series.

Explain It!:

Our story begins with what could be the last day of The Stranger's suffering.  On a lonely pier, The Stranger waits for a ferry to take him to the new Council of Eternity, that will judge his fate.  The ferryman arrives and asks for a payment and it's so cool to see that The Stranger pays with his last silver coin burdening his soul and when he hands it over, the mantle of The Stranger fades away and just leaves the man that he was two thousand years earlier.  Instantly a gateway appears to The Stranger's side and it's time to meet the new Council and await their judgement.

When The Stranger arrives he sees that the chairs to the Council are empty, but one by one, the new Council arrives and to The Stranger's horror, it's made up of his worst enemies.  Trigon, Mister E, Neron, Eclipso, Sin Eater, Blight and finally Zauriel.  While in this timeline, The Stranger watched Zauriel die two years earlier and on top of that, Zauriel is The Stranger's closest friend and guardian angel, but don't get your hopes up just yet for a fair trial because this Zauriel was resurrected by Trigon and she serves him now.  That too is strange.  Somehow after becoming a fallen angel and then dying and being resurrected in the regular series, we have Zauriel who has somehow become a woman.  I don't know if this was simply for Trigon to have an angel sex slave or what, but it's certainly a strange choice to throw at us on this one shot/final issue.  Anyway this seems like one hell of a lopsided judgement coming to The Stranger and even more surprising than the members of the new Council of Eternity is that The Presence seems to have put them together to judge The Stranger.  Apparently evil is the best to judge evil.  

Now while these seven truly hate The Stranger, it seems that they will grant him mercy in exchange for something.  We find out that while these baddies have always worked towards the same goal, they have never been willing to work with one another until now and have decided that this is the best for their means and what their means need is "The Amulet of Origins", which is the key to the kingdom of heaven.  Yeah this group actually plan on invading heaven and destroying it, but first they need The Stranger to freely hand over the amulet.  Of course he doesn't accept, but since Zauriel has walked with The Stranger his entire life, an imprint of his soul has been made on Zauriel and she simply takes the amulet.  Oh Zauriel, say it ain't so.  

Now that the bad guys have the keys to the kingdom, it seems like all is lost, but what they didn't expect was for The Presence to emerge from the amulet, sending Zauriel home to heaven and making her as good as new and claiming that their actions have brought him here.  

Now it's the remaining six members of the Council against The Presence itself and it asks Phantom Stranger to leave.  Pulling a Pinhead from Hellraiser line "This isn't for your eyes".  The Stranger makes his way back outside and finds that the battle within has caused the ferry to capsize and that isn't really a good thing since they are sailing....... ferrying...?  Doing boat stuff on the river of time.  

In the end we find out that the Ferryman is actually the wife that Phantom Stranger had when he took over the life of Philip Stark and that she's been waiting for him since she died and that they've walked beside one another for countless lives.  She tells him that even though she wants him to be with her, the world needs The Phantom Stranger more and hands him back his last piece of silver.  As the ferry vanishes The Phantom Stranger rises with new resolve now that he can be The Stranger with all the weight of his sins released.

What a great story and the artwork was just a delight to look at.  That's it for the Phantom Stranger until we see him again in his pseudo team book Trinity of Sin coming next month and with it hopefully more strong stories like this one.  See you then.

Bits and Pieces:

While this title really does nothing to tie it in with the Futures End event, it sure as hell works great as a final issue to the series.  I was really hesitant to call any of these Future End titles the final issue of any of last month's cancelled books, but if they are anything like this issue, then bring them on and give us some closure to those books.  Just a phenomenal story and what a way to keep the Stranger around while changing his dynamic in the land of Five Years From Now.  I loved this series and I'm sorry to see it go, but if it has to, then this is the way to do it.



  1. Agree with you 100%. Great story, loved the art, and most of all loved that the Judas backstory is resolved so the Stranger will be more like his pre-New 52 self: strange, mysterious, and powerful.