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The Phantom: The Ghost Who Walks #0

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The Phantom: The Ghost Who Walks #0

Credits

  • Words: Mike Bullock
  • Art: Silvestre Szilagyi
  • Inks: Sergio Mulko
  • Colors: Bob Pedroza
  • Story Title: N/A
  • Publisher: Moonstone Books
  • Price: $1.99
  • Release Date: Feb 11, 2009

Take a trip long ago and far away to see how the Phantom’s line first began!

Publisher Moonstone re-launches and slightly re-brands one of their most well-known titles as the venerable vigilante hero the Phantom gets a bit of a makeover. This may be taken as heresy but to a certain extent this has been long overdue. In the hands of writer Mike Bullock one thing is certain – the changes will be handled with a lot of care and respect. Before those changes happen, however, readers get a chance to get back in on the ground floor with a definitive re-telling of the exploits of the very first Phantom!

In 1530, off the coast of Africa, a young boy and his father sail on a great adventure. That adventure would turn to tragedy but tragedy turns to hope and a brand new future as a boy becomes a man and forges a new destiny!

A few years back Moonstone experimented with a sort-of new origin for the Phantom in the form of a prose, illustrated novel designed to resemble a diary. Written by Ben Raab, The Phantom: Legacy became the basis for Mike Bullock’s story here in this zero issue. To be honest, this story is a bit heavy on the caption boxes and light on the dialogue and if you’ve read Legacy then there really isn’t much new here except for the art. Most of the benefits are in the idea that this will be the definitive origin that Bullock and other Moonstone Phantom writers will spring-board off of for the future.

This is not to say that the zero issue is entirely redundant. Like many zero issues from the "Big Two" publishers, there are character briefs in the back that establish the current characters as well as introduce some new ones. It is in these new characters that readers get a glimpse at where Bullock intends to take the character in the future and judging by his choices that future is going to be bright. There is a new villain that reflects this modern era and a new ally who also reflects the 21st century’s wired world. There are also promises of equipment updates that will bring this 75 year-old character up to date and show that, under the hands of a good writer, any character can be made relevant for the world today.

Silvestre Szilagyi is slated to be the permanent artist for this series and his work is an excellent complement to the story. It is a bit "old school" but that makes it perfectly geared for costumed heroics and it seems right, somehow, that there be some echoes of tradition as the Phantom prepares to really enter the 21st century. An area of difficulty this issue, however, is the inking provided by Sergio Mulko. I’m actually not sure if what went wrong occurred at the inking, the scanning of the original or with the printing process but the lines here are not smooth and, in fact, the inks seem to blur and bleed in some places and drop out completely in others. It is entirely possible that a technical glitch could have been responsible since, in some areas, the inks actually look a bit pixilated along the edges but no matter what was at fault this should be rectified quickly because it drags down Szilagyi’s usually fine pencil work.

The Phantom: Ghost Who Walks #0 may not be an entirely original story but for $1.99 it’s a good place for new readers to try the series out and for fans the hints for the future are certainly thrilling and exciting enough to warrant the money spent. This is one character that appears to be in capable hands as Bullock ushers in a whole new era.

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