Review by: TheNextChampion

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Avg Rating: 3.6
Users who pulled this comic:
Written by Dan Didio
Art by Brent Anderson & Scott Hanna
Cover by Brent Anderson

Size: 32 pages
Price: 2.99

The Phantom Stranger is one of those superheroes I know literally nothing about. He rarely showed up in the titles I’ve read over the years but what I gather from him is this: He’s a guy wearing a long cape, a cool hat, and a badass medallion. That’s about it. I know nothing of his goals, his ambitions, or what makes him tick. Well now I have a chance to learn more about this mysterious figure with a debut #0 issue for his new, ongoing series. However, the book is written by the Co-Publisher of DC Comics Mr. Dan Didio. Now he won me over with the recently cancelled O.M.A.C. so can he dazzle me with this new series?

Here’s when you know you have an uphill battle in a debut issue: When the bio blurb at the end of the comic makes more sense then the actual issue. That sounds a little harsh so let me explain. We do get a clear origin of the Stranger in his seemingly biblical days. But we don’t get much substance. Maybe it’ll be explored more as time goes on but again, the biography at the end of the issue explains it much better than this. Didio goes to each major plot point of the issue without much of a transition and it is a little jarring. We never know what is happening to him in the past or why he is compelled to help a certain ‘vengeful’ cop by the end. What’s here is interesting but Didio could have done a better job in filling us in a tiny bit more. Also, another major problem with this issue is that the dialogue is really clunky. The Stranger’s narration is okay, but anyone else talking is just hard to read without snickering (in a bad way). The cops in this issue are so stereotypical with their ‘tough’ talk that I literally thought Didio was going for parody here. But he isn’t and because of that the issue suffers greatly on the second half.

Now Brent Anderson’s career has sort of mellowed over the years. His run on Astro City and X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills definitely show the high points of his career. Lately though, his art has been somewhat subdued and with this first issue it’s kind of….well ‘safe’. What’s here isn’t bad but nothing really stood out for me. Well that’s sorta not true; the character designs in this are pretty good. Plus I like the old school feel of the issue even though I’m sure it is suppose to take place in our current time. The coloring stood out for me more then the actual pencils if I’m being honest. Jeromy Cox is new to me (of course looking him up he has done a TON of series as colorist) but his bright, vibrant colors make the issue pleasant to look at.

So I’m really torn on this first issue of the new Phantom Stranger series. The potential is there with an intriguing set up and the coloring in this issue is top notch. But everything else about it feels safe or not fully realized. Didio’s writing isn’t great and because this series is going to be more on talking then huge set pieces then this series might struggle. Add in some really mediocre art by Brent Anderson and you’d think I wouldn’t want to keep going with this series. But because of Didio’s success with O.M.A.C. and because I wanna learn more about this character…I just have to give it another shot. I hope with this semi-origin issue out of the way we can get the ball rolling and we see improvements next month.

Story: 2 - Average
Art: 3 - Good

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