Category Archives: Underrated

Underrated: Your Local Comics Scene

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week:  Your Local Comics Scene


 

In a slightly different than normal entry to this column (read I forgot to write one and am instead repurposing something else) I wanted to take a look at something that most of us either ignore or are blissfully unaware of, and that’s the comics being published in your local area. Obviously your definition of “local area” will vary depending on where you live; New York City may have a much smaller local sphere than my hometown of Exmouth in the South of Devon, England. The local scene there could more reasonably stretch across the entirety of the county of Devon, much like how I’d consider Atlantic Canada to be my current local comics scene now rather than any specific city or province within the region simply due to the volume of independent comics that I come across. But regardless of the size of your local area, my question to you, dear reader, is how active is your local comics scene, and when was the last time you actively sought out local-to-you comics at your Local Comic Shop?

I’ve found a couple of really interesting stories that way (some are also available as webcomics – such as this one), and some… less interesting. But the thing is, because they’re created by people who visit the same shops as I do across the region, I wanted to give them a shot. And I don’t regret doing that with any of the comics I’ve picked up over the years, whether they are from my region or local to an area I have traveled to. 

There’s a chance that your local area may not have anybody actively creating comics for the mass market, but you can probably find a small pamphlet like comic produced locally in a small corner of the shop or a local convention. And if you do find one, then why not check it out? You’ll be supporting local talent, and who knows? Maybe you’ll find your next favourite series…



That’s all we have for this week, folks. Come back next time  when there’s something else Underrated to talk about.

Underrated: Comics Not In Diamond’s Top 100 For September ’19

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Comics not in Diamond’s top 100 sellers for September 2019


This week we’re going to be looking at a list of comics that are all pretty good, but don’t get the attention that they deserve. Now I’m not even going to pretend to have a definitively exhaustive list of underrated comics here, because we’re hoping  that you decide to check at least one of these series out next time you’re looking for something new either online or at your LCS, and giving you a huge list to check out would be counter productive to that. Instead, you’ll find four to six comics that are worth your attention that failed to crack the top 100 in sales. The only hard stipulation for this week: not one of the comics made it into the top 400 (yeah, I went for books that hardly any of you have read for whatever reason) for this month’s comic sales, according to Comichron, which is why they’re Underrated.


Banjax #4 (Action Lab)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 522/876
Why You Should Read It:
I said it last month, and I’ll say it again; selling less than a thousand copies is a criminal shame for this comic. Telling the story of a disgraced hero on a last quest to clear up crime in his city before his body succumbs to the cancer that resulted from the use of his powers, Banjax isn’t a comic with a happy ending, and writer Rylend Grant always seems to have another twisted angle on what could be a straight forward story to keep you guessing.

If you’re not going to read this in floppy format, at least check out the trade (assuming it gets one).

Outpost #13 (Image)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 388/1,779
Why You Should Read It: 
It may be the penultimate issue, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth reading. Actually, what it means is that this is a great time for you to plan to pick up the collected editions in the near future.

Psi-Lords #4 (Valiant)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 292/4,460
Why You Should Read It: 
An epic space romp featuring some utterly fantastic art, and a story that should be read multiple times, this issue is the end of the first arc (or at least where the first trade will end), and it is also a pretty solid jumping on place for yet another strong book from Valiant. .

The Crow Hack Slash #3 (IDW)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 288/4,656
Why You Should Read It:
As a big fan of the Crow, I will always read anything Crow-related. Usually, I end up with a half decent read, but this crossover has been really enjoyable. I’ve never met Hack and Slash before, but after this story, I’m more than likely going to be reading more about them in the future.

Tommy Gun Wizards #2 (Dark Horse)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 278/5,240
Why You Should Read It:
An interesting mix of genres, it’s exactly what you think it’s going to be. Urban fantasy based around the era of Al Capone (re-imagined as a bootleg magic operator verses alcohol). It’s something different, but incredibly good – and well worth your time and money.

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Unless the comics industry ceases any and all publication look for a future installment of Underrated to cover more comics that aren’t cracking the top 100.

Underrated: Crecy

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Crecy.


I’ve always been interested by the middle ages, and the English use of the longbow. In part because it’s the origin of one of my favourite hand gestures to use (especially in North America when so few actually know what I’m doing in pictures). Needless to say, when I saw that gesture over a bloody St. George’s cross, I grabbed the book off the shelf. And then noticed that it was a Warren Ellis book.

I am by no means an authority on the Battle of Crecy. I only really know of a few accounts through Wikipedia articles and their sources and the Bernard Cornwall novels surrounding an English Archer named Thomas of Hookton, with the book Harlequin telling the tale of the battle from his perspective. So I won’t claim to know that this book is 100% historically accurate, but it is as faithful a telling as you’re likely to find from the eyes of an archer – whether in a textbook or not.

Ellis utilizes a lead character who frequently addresses the audience when telling the battle’s story and events, showing knowledge of modern times without ever indicating that he knows he’s in a fictional story. It’s an effective story device, and one that I really enjoy for this type of story (but I hope we don’t see it over used, either). The black and white are hides some of the violence, but serves to highlight the mayhem and carnage of the day.

Crecy is a great book – worth every penny of the cover price, and far more Underrated than it should be.


Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

Underrated: Scarlet Spider (2012)

I recently, finally, found the Scarlet Spider Marvel Legends action figure after more than a year of searching. In honour of that personal triumph, I decided to reread the 24 issue Scarlet Spider series from 2012… and because of that, I wanted to revisit the series here.

It more than holds up.


This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: The 2012 Scarlet Spider run.



Scarlet_Spider_Vol_2_1

I have always enjoyed stories about villains becoming heroes. With 2012’s Scarlet Spider we get exactly that. When I originally aded this to my pull list, I had assumed that the Scarlet Spider in question was Ben Reilly in a new costume, and not Kaine. I’m sure had I been reading the Spider-Man comics at the time I’d have known better, but I figured this was a good place to jump on board – and I wasn’t wrong.

But not for the reasons I expected. Instead of a heroic story featuring Ben Reilly, Scarlet Spiderdelivered something I wasn’t expecting – and ended up loving more than I thought I would.

The story starts with Kaine trying to get to Mexico, having recently been cured of the cellular degeneration he was suffering as a clone (it’s a whole thing that’s explained in multiple stories and other resources), he’s seeking a chance to finally live his life free of the constant agony he used to suffer. But, as with any good story featuring a Spider, things inevitably get in the way of that and Kaine gets stuck in Houston, quickly becoming the city’s own resident super hero. The series was written by Chistopher Yost, who was joined by a variety of hugely talented pencillers, inkers and colourists throughout the series 25 issue run (there were also  couple of specials and tie-in issues that bulk up the issue count if you want the whole story).

The full run remains one of my favourite Spider stories, in part because of the redemptive nature, but also because it’s just really good. But like all series that features a lesser known character it was cancelled because of low sales. Scarlet Spider is a brilliant alternate to Spider-Man as we see a hero with, as the tag line so eloquently puts it, “all of the power, and none of the responsibility.” But Kaine is still a Parker, and as he begrudgingly accepts the responsibility of being the Scarlet Spider, we get to see a villain slowly change into (well, almost) a hero.

This is a fantastic run, easily one of my favourite parts of my collection, but it’s one I don’t see getting the love it deserves – that’s why the book is Underrated.


Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

Underrated: Batman And Robin. Yes, The Movie. No, I Am Not Joking

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Batman And Robin.


You all know the general reputation of this movie. So bad that it ended the original run of Batman films. Nipples on the Batsuit and enough ice puns to chill a bottle of whiskey.

And let us not forget the Bat-credit card.

The last of the movie series that began with Tim Burton’s Batman is not thought of fondly, but I want you to think about a couple of points regarding the movie next time you want to hate on the only George Clooney Batman appearance.

  • It paved the way for Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy
    Alright, so this isn’t necessarily a good thing about the movie, but at least the follow up Batman flick led to one of the strongest movies featuring the Dark Knight we’ve had yet.
  • It’s the only film in which Batman does purposefully or accidentally kill somebody.
    When I say accidentally kill somebody, I mean those moments where he doesn’t seem to care what happens to criminals after he’s run them off a bridge. Or shot their vehicle with missiles. Or left a man on a train.
  • Think of it as a continuation of the Adam West Batman.
    All of a sudden the movie takes on an entirely new look when you see it as being an homage to the biffing and powing of the 60’s.
  • Once you accept it’s not a great movie, it’s surprisingly fun.
    This will never place highly on any comic fans order of Batman movies – at best it might be in the bottom two or three – but it’s always going to place high on the silly and goofy list. Sometimes, after imbibing some mind altering substances, that’s exactly what you want. Don’t take this movie seriously, and you’ll find it a very ice film.
  • Arnold’s ice puns are awful.
    Seriously, they’re very uncool. And yet… you can’t help but laugh at the sheer delight Arnold has in delivering them.
  • It really is so bad it’s great.
    There’s only a few movies that are so shit that you enjoy them, and this is the best of the ones featuring Batman.

You didn’t really think I’d claim this as a good movie, did you? It’s awful. But it’s so awful that it’s really enjoyable (unlike the theatrical cut of Batman V Superman which is considerably worse than the extended version). So enjoyable that it’s almost an underrated gem – which makes it the perfect movie to rewatch when you’ve got a spare moment and want a laugh.


Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

Underrated: Thrud the Barbarian

This column is a rerun from late 2018. Enjoy!

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week:  Thrud the Barbarian


Another week, and yet another case of “Alex bought something for Underrated without knowing anything about it beforehand,” or it would be had Alex not received Carl Critchlow‘s Thrud the Barbarian  a few years  ago from the now defunct Comic Bento. Published by Titan Comics, the trade paperback collects the original Thrud the Barbarian five issue miniseries, as well as a couple of single page shorts from White Dwarf magazine, and was originally published in 2013. If you missed this when it first came out, don’t be surprised – I’m not sure it was ever released on a large scale outside Britain.

Thrud the Barbarian is what I’d consider a quintessentially British comic; it blends in equal parts the violence , chaos and destruction that one would expect from a Conan parody with the silliness and tongue in cheek humour that wouldn’t feel out of place in a Monty Python skit. But with a lot more smashed heads and limbs flying free of bodies. The Titan Comics collection consists of five stories that can be read independently of each other (seven if you’re counting the bonus strips), or in one go – which is what I did when rereading it recently.

Honestly, I reread it because I was reorganizing my bookcase and saw the cover again and wanted something fun, easy and not too deep or involved to read. Thrud was certainly that, and I loved every irreverent thought, every stunningly painted cover, and the computer coloured artwork. It was exactly the kind of book that I needed to read after a busy week, a book that I am glad I own, and one I am even happier that I noticed on the shelf.

Thrud2

As a fan of heroic fantasy books, I loved Critchlow’s send up of the genre; the visualization and sight gags and some brilliant punchlines across all the stories in in the collection. I loved every aspect of this book; the sound effects, the dumb-as-a-post hero just wants his beer and the cartoon-like hyper violence that ties it all together in such a lovely package.

Without a doubt this is one of my favourite books I’ve ever written about for this column, even if I did forget I owned it for a little while.

And yet, had it not been for the Bento box, I would never have heard of this book. Which is easily one of the best aspects of the online blind box subscription thingies – the introduction to new and exciting books and comics you otherwise would never have been exposed to. Consequently, this is a book I don’t see getting the love it deserves – that’s why the book is Underrated.


Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

Underrated: Comics Not In Diamond’s Top 100 For August ’19

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Comics not in Diamond’s top 100 sellers for August 2019


This week we’re going to be looking at a list of comics that are all pretty good, but don’t get the attention that they deserve. Now I’m not even going to pretend to have a definitively exhaustive list of underrated comics here, because we’re hoping  that you decide to check at least one of these series out next time you’re looking for something new either online or at your LCS, and giving you a huge list to check out would be counter productive to that. Instead, you’ll find four to six comics that are worth your attention that failed to crack the top 100 in sales. The only hard stipulation for this week: not one of the comics made it into the top 400 (yeah, I went for books that hardly any of you have read for whatever reason) for this month’s comic sales, according to Comichron, which is why they’re Underrated.


Banjax #3 (Action Lab)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 426/996
Why You Should Read It:
Selling less than a thousand copies is a criminal shame for this comic. Telling the story of a disgraced hero on a last quest to clear up crime in his city before his body succumbs to the cancer that resulted from the use of his powers, Banjax isn’t a comic with a happy ending, and writer Rylend Grant always seems to have another twisted angle on what could be a straight forward story to keep you guessing.

Grumble #9 (Albatross)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 396/1,285
Why You Should Read It: 
I feel like I’ve talked about this series quite a bit over the last few months… but it still remains (to my mind) one of the most underrated books out there. The mix of magic, dark humour and the underdog story just ticks every box for me.

Livewire #9 (Valiant)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 289/3,843
Why You Should Read It: 
Although we’re nine issues in, this comic kicks off a new arc that finds the titular hero address her PR problems (I mean accidentally killing hundred and thousands of people is more than a PR problem, but go with me here) in much the same way those running for public office tend to do. Making this a topical, and very interesting book.

The Life And Death Of Toyo Harada #6 (Valiant)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 271/4,558
Why You Should Read It:
I usually try and avoid two series from the same publisher in the same column of sales numbers, but The Life and Death of Toyo Harada was the culmination of Joshua Dysart’s work with the character across multiple series and around 50(ish) issues of story. It’s a phenomenal miniseries, and while you don’t need to read the build up, it certainly helps (especially with how good those books are). .

Image Firsts: Oblivion Song #1 (Image)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 240/5,949
Why You Should Read It:
Oblivion Song‘s setting is brilliant, a post apocalyptic world mixed with a near future’s reaction to such an event. If you were ever curious about the series, this $1 comic is an ideal place to sate your curiosity.

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Unless the comics industry ceases any and all publication look for a future installment of Underrated to cover more comics that aren’t cracking the top 100.

Underrated: Valiant Masters Editions

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Valiant Masters Editions.


Ever since I’ve started to collect Valiant comics, I’ve been picking up the hardcover deluxe editions here and there as a way to catch up in bulk on some of the series I’ve missed. A few months ago I did a cost analysis as to whether it was worth buying the deluxe editions verses the softcover trades or single issue floppies at cover price; generally the savings were negligible depending on the size of the book (less than $5, I think) between the hardcovers and soft covers, but the difference between the hard covers and cover price floppies varied greatly depending on how many books were collected (and it didn’t factor in the cost of the floppies after they’ve been on the market for a while, as they can fluctuate higher or lower depending on different trends).

This is relevant only because the Valiant Masters hardcovers generally contain the first eight issues of the original Valiant series (either 1-8 or 0-7 depending on the stories within), which means that for $25 you end up paying about $3.25 a comic. Whether that’s a good price for the early Valiant books depends on which book you’re looking at; I’ve paid $20 for the first appearance of Rai, $6 for the first appearance of Ninjak and around $1 for others, so it’s largely a crap shoot, but for the most part the individual issues collected in the Valiant Masters are going to be cheaper than the hardcover itself.

But the hardcover is going to be so much easier to find, and it’ll look so much nicer on the shelf.

I’ve long forgotten the point I was going to make with the above paragraphs if I’m honest. It probably has to do with the fact that if you’re patient and dedicated you can find most of the comics in the seven Valiant Masters hard covers (Bloodshot, Harbinger, H.A.R.D. Corps, Ninjak, Rai, Shadowman and X-O Manowar), but some will be far harder and more difficult to find for a decent price (Harbinger, Rai and X-O Manowar from personal experience). So if you want to read the early stories featuring these characters then these are a great option for you. They also look pretty damn good on the shelf, too.

Perhaps my favourite aspect of these Masters editions is in comparing what I know about the characters from their 2012 relaunch and the versions that appeared in the 90’s.

There may only be a limited number of folks left who, like me, want to explore the original Valiant comics of the 90’s that haven’t already done so, but these hardcover editions are a brilliant gateway to the past, and great encouragement to go hunting for the comics that haven’t been collected – and may never be at this point. That’s why I think these books are underrated; because so few of you will be looking for them. Which is a shame because those early Valiant stories are fantastic.


Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

Underrated: The Rocketeer

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: The Rocketeer.


After watching The Phantom last week, I had a hankering to watch another movie from the same era; The Rocketeer.

Based on a character created in 1982 by Dave Stevens as an homage to the matinee heroes in serials from the 30’s to the 50’s, the character is both a racing and stunt pilot in the late 30’s who finds a jetpack. The rest, as is often the case in these types of situation, is history.

The character has been published intermittently over the years, and so it was that I was first introduced to the character through the 1991 movie The Rocketeer. In a strange twist for this column, I’ve never really been able to get into the comics, though I am sure that has as much to do with their lack of availability for me as a kid and even now (though they are far easier to get now online than ever before, I just don’t feel as inclined to do so), but the film?

As a kid, I remember loving the film.

It had all the things in a movie that I was looking for; humour, effects that made me believe a man could fly, a terrifying bad guy and a super suave bad guy, and a rugged hero who just happened to stumble onto an evil plan that only his fists could solve. I have no idea how many times I watched this movie as a kid, but I know it was one of only a few films that we had on VHS growing up that hadn’t been recorded from the television (I can honestly count those on one hand), and it was a movie I loved to watch.

My parents were more than happy for me to watch it given that it was a family friendly movie.

A few years ago I picked the movie up on Blu-ray, hoping that I’d still be able to find some enjoyment from a film that had been such a key part in my childhood background; two of the others, Hook and Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves, were also frequently on the VHS – and though Hook holds up magnificently, I haven’t brought myself to watch the other in twenty years. So it was with some trepidation that I pushed play on the movie after more than two decades (which reminds me I am old).

Would I still love the cheesy humour? Would the old school special effects feel too dated? Would the story be anything more than a good yarn, one that was good then but is average at best today? Would I watch the credits roll crushed as my childhood evaporated before my eyes.

It didn’t take me long to realize that while I remembered the movie differently, what I was watching was still pretty damn good. My nervousness at it’s quality was unfounded – though watching the things I loved about the movie with adult eyes did give me an interesting perspective. I found myself asking how the hell nobody noticed that the Rocketeer was wearing Cliff Secord’s clothing, and then decided that it didn’t matter.

Which is about how I reacted anytime my suspension of disbelief started to question the movie’s events, whether it was the utter obliviousness to the clothing of the hero or how easy non-authorized personnel seemed to be able to get to places they shouldn’t. Because the movie never does it in a way that you feel is hamfisted or forced. It happens because the plot needs it to, much like it usually does in movies of that era and before.

Once I let go of that, essentially finding the inner child who just wanted to love the movie again, I realized that any of the things that should bother me didn’t.

And you know what? The movie still holds up.


Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

Underrated: The Phantom

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: The Phantom.


First appearing in newspapers on February 17, 1936, the Phantom was the first character to wear the skintight costume that has become emblematic of the superhero (inspired, it turns out, by stage productions of Robin Hood). He was also the first character to wear a mask with no visible pupils; the Phantom’s creator, Lee Falk, explained  that Ancient Greek busts inspired the idea of the not showing the Phantom’s pupils when he was wearing his mask, incorrectly believing that the statues had no pupils, when instead it was just that the paint had faded over the centuries. But Falk felt the pupil-less eyes gave the statues an inhuman, awe-inspiring appearance – ideal for the Ghost That Walks.

The Phantom has been in continuous publication since he debuted as a newspaper strip in 1936, with Lee Falk continuing to write the character until his death in 1999 (let that sink in for a moment. That’s sixty three years on the same character), although before he died, Falk dictated his final Phantom story to his wife from his death bed.

The essence of the Phantom is that he is an undying ghost destined to protect the fictional country of Bengala, located in Africa, from the evil Singh Brotherhood – originally a gang of pirates, though they manage to evolve with the times. The Phantom’s reputation as The Ghost That Walks comes from his longevity – Bengala has been protected by the Phantom since the early 1500’s, but it hasn’t always been the same man. Son takes over the mantle from father, over and over, giving the impression of immortality to his enemies (establishing the character as the first true legacy hero in comics).

The reason I’ve gone in to such detail about the character is because I have finally found the 1996 movie on DVD from Amazon. I say finally because I’ve been looking on and off for this movie for quite some time. It hasn’t been on any streaming service that I subscribe to, and it comes and goes from online stores – usually for more than I want to pay for a Blu-ray. In the end, I needed to bulk up an Amazon order for free shipping, and the DVD was $7* or so – well worth the price for the movie.

*(Before you ask, my wife has Amazon Prime, so I could have gotten free shipping, but for some reason the item I wanted, a low end drawing tablet, gave me a coupon and not her so in the end the DVD was closer to $2 – which is an absolute bargain).

It had been nearly twenty years since I had seen this movie, and after the glut of big budget super hero films, and so I was curious as to whether it would hold up as more than a nostalgic diversion or whether it would still be a good film in its own right. Billy Zane’s performance is solid enough, though the script doesn’t give him much to do; Treat Williams commands the screen as a wonderfully camp comic book villain with just enough of a sinister bent to make you nervous; Kirsty Swanson and Catherine Zeta Jones are both able to play strong, if fairly one dimensional characters; and James Remar is James Remar – an actor who will never give a bad performance (you may see a bad movie with him in it, but it wasn’t bad because of him).

You might think that I’m going to start ragging on the movie, but I genuinely enjoyed it. It was exactly what I hoped it would be, and indeed remembered it as; a good movie that stuck to the core concepts of the Phantom (as I remembered them); the Phantom doesn’t shoot to kill, his horse and wolf are in the movie, the stunts and effects haven’t aged brilliantly, but they’re still not terrible (the only time that you really notice anything is anytime a vehicle crashes into a ball of flames; everything else is forgivable or still holds up).

Yes, it’s a kitschy movie, and the Phantom isn’t the one man wrecking machine that super heroes have become in movies today – which oddly keeps the flick pretty grounded – but it is a really fun film.

I am absolutely going to watch the movie again. And again.

If you’re curious about the Phantom in the comics, well although the character has been in continuous publication in newspaper strips from the 30’s, The Ghost Who Walks has also appeared in several comic books throughout the last few decades – the most recent of which was Dynamite Entertainment’s The Last Phantom, a fantastic 12 issue modern take on this legendary character that I highly recommend. You can find the issues collected under The Last Phantom: Ghost Walk and Jungle Rules


Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

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