The Saturday Comics: The Phantom Gets Good!

29 Dec

December 29, 2017

Let’s end the year by checking back in on one of the classics. It is the Phantom, a comic character from the Golden Age created by Lee Falk. He’s “The Ghost Who Walks,” but basically just a guy in a suit who fights crime. He’s the latest in a family line of crime-fighters to use that name. When we last checked in back in 2011, there was literally nothing going on. For an entire week nothing happened. And I mean that exactly as it sounds. Let’s go back and see, then we’ll check in with the strip today and see what’s up.

UPDATED from April 16, 2011DAY ONE:

OK, I get it. I came in at the end of an adventure. It looks like a happy ending. It is actually a good thing I came in now so I can enjoy the start of a whole new story tomorrow. Looking forward to it.


Well, that’s nice. Sort of the same thing as yesterday though. And it seems a bit of a waste, story-wise, to do it in one big splash but I guess it gets the emotion across. OK, let’s see where this goes tomorrow.


What the? What’s the point of this? Is the next arc about haircuts? If this were a play I could almost hear the stage manager hissing “vamp!” while the star desperately searches for her line. This is ridiculous, the big splash yesterday should have ended the arc. I’m getting a bit tired of this, hopefully things will move ahead tomorrow.


Um, Ok. More wasting time. Maybe they haven’t hammered out the next script yet and just tossed this in? I can’t figure out a purpose to this strip, unless it is to reinforce their dedication to fighting evil? This isn’t much of a superhero strip, it is more like a bad show on the religious station with Kirk Cameron. I’m not hopeful for tomorrow.


Ahh, now we’re getting somewhere.

DAY SIX:Huh? Where’s The Phantom? And isn’t that the guy who was supposed to be in jail? Who are these people? I sat through almost a week for this? That strip could have been told in three panels. And re-read the second panel. “Colonel Weeks met the unknown commander.” “Worubu doubts it.” There is a verb tense problem there, and I’m usually not that picky outside of a grammar blog but that is really annoying to read. I really hope The Phantom picks up but I’m losing hope.


UGH! Back to that? It’s like the Sunday strip exists in a different timeline, and maybe it might. Many strips do a separate storyline on Sundays because some papers only run the Sunday strips. So I can follow the annoying story on Sunday, or follow the slow and boring story during the week, or maybe wait and see if indeed that Sunday strip is part of the same story as the weekly though it doesn’t seem to be.


To Hell with The Phantom. Popeye never fails. I got more out of that strip than an entire week of The Phantom. And why not? It looks like they are running a classic Sagendorf strip.

That Phantom run may have been the worst week of a comic strip that I have ever read, and that’s coming from someone who read comics written and drawn by Rob Liefeld so you know I’ve read some bad comics. The artist of this strip, Paul Ryan, was the artist on one of my favorite runs of the Fantastic Four so this hurts all the more.


Here are the current strips from Monday December 25 to Thursday, December 28: 

Whoa, what happened? First, you might notice a change in the art. Comic book veteran Mike Manley (another favorite artist, and cool name- “Manley”-) has taken over from Paul Ryan, who died in 2016. The strip looks great. I have to give credit to the colorist too. The explosion on day two really pops. But most notably,  the writing is top notch. It zips along! There’s action! I want to know what happens next. And look at the bad guy. Despite not knowing what the plot of the story is, I feel I know all I need to know about him at this point. As a new reader I’m already drawn into the action and fairly knowledgeable about the characters. Did they change the writer, you may be wondering? Nope, it is still Tony DePaul. So maybe the 2011 run was an aberration? Or maybe he simply improved. Either way, this week’s strip is a winner. I deliberately left out the Friday strip. And that’s today (as of the date of this posts publication) so go over to and see where this story is headed. I know I will!  




7 Responses to “The Saturday Comics: The Phantom Gets Good!”

  1. Matt Cowan December 29, 2017 at 6:46 am #

    Did they ever get around to finishing off that whole hair style plot thread, though?


    • bmj2k December 29, 2017 at 5:55 pm #

      It was very controversial.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mac of BIOnighT December 29, 2017 at 7:17 pm #

        Oh my, what a difference O__O It’s like from totally amateurish to super-professional O__O


        • bmj2k December 29, 2017 at 10:23 pm #

          I was hoping you’d comment. I thought of you as I was writing this one.


          • Mac of BIOnighT December 31, 2017 at 11:17 am #

            It’s quite impressive… the writer must have gotten a raise o__O And a good artist does make a difference! By the way, are strips still collected in volumes in the US or do they only live and die in newspapers?


            • bmj2k December 31, 2017 at 12:07 pm #

              There is a huge amount of classic strips being collected and published all the time. But the new strips aren’t. However, the companies that publish the collections go chronologically so they may eventually get to the current strips if the publishing program continues in the future. Also, the Dick Tracy creators go to some comic cons during the year and they collect and publish a current arc in comic book form and give them away (or charge a small fee, I forget which, but it is a couple of dollars at most). They also send them to those who ask online but they sell out quickly. I have the last two they published, which I think are the only two.


              • Mac of BIOnighT January 1, 2018 at 7:26 pm #

                I have a couple of collections of strips, too, but as you said, it’s only old stuff. I’m always hoping some day Radio Patrol will be re-printed, but nobody seems to be interested but me :-/


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