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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.

Underrated: Five 90’s Comic Book Movies

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:  Comic Book Movies From The 90’s


With the cinematic landscape jam packed with comic book inspired movies these days, I had to wonder what the 90’s looked like, and whether any of those movies held up today. So I asked myself, I said “self, are there any movies that you feel are, for whatever reason, somewhat underrated?”

Turns out, there is.

A few things before we start; firstly, these comic book movies may have been well received when released, but may never have garnered as much attention as they deserved. Secondly, some of these movies I’m probably viewing with the rose tinted glasses of nostalgia so be prepared for some potentially foolish claims. Thirdly, this isn’t a complete, or inclusive, list and it is completely subjective.

phantom.jpg

The Phantom (1996)
This is probably one of the only comic book movie on this list with an actual spandex bodysuit in it, and Billy Zane does admirably well in the roll. I haven’t seen this movie since the 90’s, but not for lack of trying – it is very tough to track down for a reasonable price. The Phantom is a hugely enjoyable movie, so long as you take it for what it is (Guardians of the Galaxy, it is not), you can’t fail to not enjoy it. But do yourself a favour and skip the two part mini series released in 2010.

Batman Forever (1995)
Joel Shumacker ruined the Batman movie franchise with Batman and Robin, that’s no lie, but before he did that he made Batman Forever. I still enjoy this flick to this day. It echoes the Adam West TV show of the 1960’s, updating the camp foolishness of that time into a slightly more modern and darker time, bridging the gap expertly between Tim Burton’s films and the TV show. The movie stars because of its villains; Tommy Lee Jones’ Two Face and Jim Carry’s excellent portrayal of the Riddler.  No, the film isn’t the best batman movie out there, but it isn’t as bad as Shumacker’s other offering.

crow.jpg

The Crow (1994)
The Crow is a certified cult classic at this point, and with a new adaptation of the source material coming in the near future, I thought it would be worth familiarizing myself with one of my favourite movies (and was the genesis of this column). Brandon Lee is a revelation in this film, and the tragedy of his untimely death during filming only adds to the overwhelming sense of sadness and the themes of love that are woven through the movie. The film is a love story at heart, with just shy of half a dozen characters’ fates being intertwined through their actions; you’ll also notice some of the cinematography and visuals having an influence on some of the darker comic book movies that would follow.

rocketeer.jpg

The Rocketeer (1991)
A film in the vein of Indiana Jones and the adventure films of the 80’s, The Rocketeer is an entertaining romp set during the late 30’s as war brews in Europe. A stunt pilot finds a secret weapon, the jetpack, and struggles to win back his girl and stop the weapon from falling into the wrong hands. A genuinely entertaining film that you can watch with your kids (assuming you watch the adventures of Dr. Jones with them), The Rocketeer has long held a special place in my heart.

The Mask (1994)
Jim Carry’s rubber face is on full display in this outrageously fun and completely stupid offering. You can’t watch this without either laughing or rolling your eyes because The Mask is a movie that doesn’t take itself seriously at all, and nor should you take it seriously. Just watch it and enjoy the fun.


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

ComiXology Features 5 releases including Two Free!

There’s fives new releases today on comiXology. It’s a nice mix of releases from Harlequin, IDW Publishing, and Hermes Press. Get shopping now or check out the releases below.

Frisco’s Kid

Written by Suzanne Brockmann
Art by Karan Dan
Purchase

When Mia first met her ex-military neighbor, Frisco, she was drawn to his handsome face and clear blue eyes. But she was soon turned off by his deliberately rough and provoking attitude. Despite that, she feels compelled to help him when she sees how hard he works to take care of his young niece. As Mia begins to see the softer side of Frisco, she’s drawn to him again and hopes to uncover the reason behind the darkness in his eyes…

Frisco's Kid

The Phantom: The Complete Newspaper Dailies and Sundays Vol. 10 #22

Written by Lee Falk
Art by Sy Barry
Cover by Sy Barry
Purchase

“Referred to by comic strip historian Maurice Horn as the “granddaddy of all costumed superheroes,” The Phantom was created in 1936 by Lee Falk with artwork by Sy Barry. The strip hit the funny pages of newspapers well before the Dark Knight or Superman made their first appearances and has been acknowledged as an influence on every “masked man of mystery” since. The Phantom set the standard for action, adventure, intrigue, and romance in adventure comic strips and comic books – it has frequently been copied but never equaled.

This exciting 22nd volume continues the SY BARRY YEARS! Reprinted in all its black and white glory, journey with Hermes Press as we bring you the follwowing complete continuities drawn by Sy himself: “Rex, the Missing Heir,” and “The Gladiator,” “The Missing Daddy,” “Luaga’s Undercover Tour,”” “The Mission,” and “”The Heir (Yes).”” Strips from this issue are taken directly from King Feature’s proofs. Included in the volume is a comprehensive essay and documentary materials.”

The Phantom: The Complete Newspaper Dailies and Sundays Vol. 10 #22

son rêve de maternité Vol. 1: Le Trésor Le Plus Précieux de Tous

Written by Anne Fraser
Art by Mao Kirisaka
Purchase

Olivia, médecin urgentiste, est enceinte de son défunt mari grâce à la fécondation in vitro. Mais, le sourire amical et le regard captivant de David, un nouveau chirurgien venu de New York, enflamment son cœur. Pourtant elle n’a pas l’intention de faire plaisir au nouveau playboy de l’hôpital. Elle ne rêve que d’une vie calme et paisible juste avec son bébé… Jusqu’à ce qu’elle apprenne qu’il y avait eu une erreur à la clinique au moment de la fécondation !

son rêve de maternité Vol. 1: Le Trésor Le Plus Précieux de Tous

Sonic the Hedgehog 30th Anniversary Special FCBD 2021

Written by Gale Galligan
Art by Thomas Rothlisberger
Purchase

Celebrating 30 years of the world’s fastest hedgehog! There’s no telling how Sonic will react when he sees the results of Amy Rose’s new hobby—she’s been making tell-all comics about her adventures with Sonic, Miles “Tails” Prower, and their friends! Plus, fun extras to catch readers up on Sonic’s ongoing adventures, on the road to issue 50!

Sonic the Hedgehog 30th Anniversary Special FCBD 2021

Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures FCBD 2021

Written by Daniel José Older
Art by Harvey Tolibao
Purchase

Join Yoda, Buckets o’ Blood, and their Padawan learners as they go on an adventure to help maintain peace during the glory days of the Republic, in a prelude to IDW’s Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures series! Written by series architect Daniel José Older, this is the ideal entry into the world of the High Republic—and a can’t-miss story for fans!

Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures FCBD 2021

This site contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from these sites. Making purchases through these links helps support the site.

Marvel, Hermes Press, Harlequin, and Yen Press all have New Releases on comiXology

There are nine new releases available now on comiXology. You can get comics from Marvel, Harlequin, Hermes Press, and Yen Press. Get shopping now or check them out below.

Captivated By The Brooding Billionaire

Written by Rebecca Winters
Art by Atsuko Nakamura
Purchase

Desperately needing to get away, Abby takes a vacation to Europe and meets gorgeous Raoul. His sexy body and dark, brooding eyes instantly captivate her. While she’s staying at the winery that he operates, Abby can’t help but hope that Raoul might be her destined lover. But in order to get close to Raoul, she’ll first have to deal with his cruel aristocratic family!

Captivated By The Brooding Billionaire

Dethany and the Other Clique

Written by H.H. Glenn, Bill Holbrook
Art by Bill Holbrook
Purchase

“Dethany and the Other Clique is a graphic novel prequel to the hit comic strip series On the Fastrack, created by Bill Holbrook. The lighthearted, middle-grade reader follows the popular comic character Dethany Dendrobia as she navigates daily life in contemporary middle school.

The 128-page graphic novel’s humor spoofs the restrictiveness of a school’s culture of cliques by taking its social strata to absurd extremes. Upper elementary and middle-grade readers will enjoy the laughs along the way and cheer its ultimate celebration of individuality.”

Dethany and the Other Clique

Emma Frost Vol. 1: Higher Learning

Written by Karl Bollers
Art by Randy Green
Cover by Greg Horn
Purchase

Collects Emma Frost #1-6.

Learn the secret of how the Astonishing X-Men’s diamond-sculpted seductress, Emma Frost, became the formidable woman she is today. Witness the first time her mutant powers manifested, her difficulties at home and in school, and her early first love that explains how she blossomed from an innocent teenager into the wealthy, ruthless, feared and desired White Queen who has fought alongside and against the X-Men!

Emma Frost Vol. 1: Higher Learning

Incredible Hulk: Big Things

Written by Bruce Jones
Art by Doug Braithwaite, Mike Deodato Jr., Darick Robertson
Cover by Mike Deodato Jr.
Purchase

Collects Incredible Hulk (1999) #70-76.

All is revealed in this arc-including the identity of the man behind the sneering lips! When Banner awakens in a post-apocalyptic future, his problems are just beginning. The mastermind behind the plot that made him a fugitive has big plans for the Hulk. Plus: The Hulk goes toe-to-toe with the Invincible Iron Man in a classic super-hero showdown!

Incredible Hulk: Big Things

Incredible Hulk: Dead Like Me

Written by Garth Ennis, Bruce Jones
Art by Doug Braithwaite, John McCrea
Cover by Mike Deodato Jr.
Purchase

Collects Incredible Hulk (1999) #66-69, Hulk Smash (2001) #1-2.

There’s something big and nasty in the desert, and it’s cutting a bloody swath toward Dr. Bruce Banner – the man also known as the Incredible Hulk! As Banner marshals the monster within for his ultimate battle, he must be ready to confront a creature with intimate knowledge of his very soul.

Incredible Hulk: Dead Like Me

Incredible Hulk: Split Decisions

Written by Bruce Jones
Art by Mike Deodato Jr.
Cover by Mike Deodato Jr.
Purchase

Collects Incredible Hulk (1999) #60-65.

Still caught in a relentless conspiracy to capture him by a mysterious clandestine organization, the indomitable Hulk faces off against a new array of powerful abominations. Aided only by his old friend and foe, Doc Samson, and his mysterious benefactor – the enigmatic Mr. Blue (whose identity is at last revealed in its entirety) – the Hulk must fight to save both his life and reputation.

Incredible Hulk: Split Decisions

The Phantom: The Complete Sundays Vol. 9: 1966-1970

Written by Lee Falk
Art by Sy Barry
Purchase

“The critically acclaimed, best selling complete reprint of The Phantom continues!

The long anticipated ninth volume of the reprint of the entire run of Lee Falk’s full color Phantom Sundays continues! This volume continues the long awaited SY BARRY years of the Sunday stripes! Fans of The Ghost Who Walks have waited for years to have a complete series of full size hardcover volumes featuring the complete Phantom Sundays and this is the ninth book in the series. As with Hermes Press’ complete reprint of The Phantom dailies, this book contains every strip digitally reconstructed to perfection”

The Phantom: The Complete Sundays Vol. 9: 1966-1970

So I’m a Spider, So What? #51.2

Written by Okina Baba
Art by Asahiro Kakashi
Purchase

Read the next chapter of So I’m a Spider

So I'm a Spider, So What? #51.2

Un Mari Pour La Vie

Written by Anne Mather
Art by Marito Ai
Purchase

Il y a deux ans, Rachel a surpris son mari, Ben, au lit avec la baby-sitter. Ben a même le culot de lui dire qu’il ne l’avait pas trompée ! Depuis, ils vivent séparément, mais voilà que le petit ami de Rachel lui propose d’emménager ensemble. Le temps semble venu pour Rachel de tourner la page, elle demande donc le divorce à Ben. Elle veut épouser Simon et s’installer avec lui pour le bien de sa petite fille, le seul souci est que… Ben refuse catégoriquement !

Un Mari Pour La Vie

This site contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from these sites. Making purchases through these links helps support the site.

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.

ComiXology Has 10 New Digital Comics from Marvel, DC, and More Today

There’s an even ten new digital comics available right now on comiXology. A mix of new and older comics, there’s a lot to enjoy and read right now. Check out the new comics from Marvel, DC, Harlequin, and more right now or the individual issues below.

Decimation: Sentinel Squad One

Written by John Layman
Art by Aaron Lopresti, Norm Rapmund
Cover by Pasqual Ferry
Purchase

Collects Sentinel Squad One #1-5.

Discover the origin of the Sentinel Squad! How did they come together and become the elite group of soldiers to pilot the Sentinels that have made their presence known at the Xavier Institute?

Decimation: Sentinel Squad One

The Greek Billionaire’s Innocent Princess Vol. 5: The Royal House of Karedes

Written by Chantelle Shaw
Art by Harumo Sanazaki
Purchase

At a royal party, Kitty, a shy princess of the kingdom of Aristo, is mistaken for a maid by Greek tycoon Nikos. To avoid his pity, she gives Nikos a false name. Later, Kitty slips out of the ballroom, takes off her clothes and goes swimming in the night sea—unaware that Nikos is strolling along the beach! He then spends a wonderful night with her, his mysterious maid…

The Greek Billionaire's Innocent Princess Vol. 5: The Royal House of Karedes

Marvel Action Captain Marvel Vol. 1: Cat-Tastrophe

Written by Sam Maggs
Art by Sweeney Boo
Cover by Sweeney Boo
Purchase

Collects Marvel Action: Captain Marvel #1-3.

Carol Danvers’ quiet night with BFF Jessica Drew (a.k.a. Spider-Woman) takes a cat-astrophic turn when Manhattan’s bodegas are suddenly overrun by a host of angry felines! And not just any felines-Flerkens, the most terrifying, pocket-dimension-holding, tentacle-devouring kitty-look-alikes in the entire universe! It’s a Flerken invasion in the latest addition to the Marvel Action banner!

Marvel Action Captain Marvel Vol. 1: Cat-Tastrophe

Marvel Action Captain Marvel Vol. 2: A.I.M. Small

Written by Sam Maggs
Art by Sweeney Boo
Cover by Sweeney Boo
Purchase

Collects Marvel Action: Captain Marvel #4-6.

Carol Danvers may be used to going higher, further, faster, but on an adventure with the Unstoppable Wasp she’ll be going smaller, lower, slower! She’s been a fighter pilot, an Avenger, and a friend of flerkens, but now she’s facing her most difficult job yet… driving instructor! And teaching Nadia Van Dyne-a.k.a. The Unstoppable Wasp!-how to drive gets a whole lot harder when A.I.M. gets ahold of some Pym Particles. Suddenly tiny, can Carol and Nadia figure out A.I.M.’s plot before it’s too late?! It’s a new pint-sized Marvel Action adventure!

Marvel Action Captain Marvel Vol. 2: A.I.M. Small

The Phantom: The Complete Newspaper Dailies: 1939-1940 Vol. 3

Written by Lee Falk
Art by Wilson McCoy
Cover by Ray Moore
Purchase

The first, original, and best masked hero to ever grace the pages of comic strips and comic books returns with Hermes Press’ new complete reprint of The Phantom. Referred to by comic strip historian Maurice Horn as the “granddaddy of all costumed superheroes,” The Phantom was created in 1936 by Lee Falk with artwork by Ray Moore. Included in this volume are two years of the continuity, from 1939-1940.

The Phantom: The Complete Newspaper Dailies: 1939-1940 Vol. 3

The Phantom: The Complete Newspaper Dailies: 1943-1944 Vol. 5

Written by Lee Falk
Art by Wilson McCoy
Cover by Ray Moore
Purchase

The first, original, and best masked hero to ever grace the pages of comic strips and comic books returns with Hermes Press’ new complete reprint of The Phantom. Referred to by comic strip historian Maurice Horn as the “granddaddy of all costumed superheroes,” The Phantom was created in 1936 by Lee Falk with artwork by Ray Moore. Included in this volume are two years of the continuity, from 1943-1944.

Note: Volume 4 is unfortunately delayed due to circumstances beyond our control; please enjoy Volume 5 and Volume 4 will be out soon!

The Phantom: The Complete Newspaper Dailies: 1943-1944 Vol. 5

Sentinel Vol. 1: Salvage

Written by Sean McKeever
Art by Udon Studios
Cover by Udon Studios
Purchase

Collects Sentinel #1-6.

This teen, sci-fi drama shows one contemporary teenager’s struggle to find his own voice, to stand up for himself and to discover what it means to be a hero in the 21st century! Oh yeah, and it’s also about a boy and his giant robot!

Sentinel Vol. 1: Salvage

Sentinel Vol. 2: No Hero

Written by Sean McKeever
Art by Udon Studios
Cover by Udon Studios
Purchase

Collects Sentinel #7-12.

Juston Seyfert’s life is changing faster than he could have ever dreamed. But it’s not just acne and algebra tests that this high school sophomore has to cope with… Juston has a secret bigger than anyone in his hometown of Antigo, Wisconsin, could possibly have imagined: He’s discovered the battle-ravaged remains of a Sentinel – a gigantic mutant-hunting robot built by the government – in his family’s junkyard and has used his prodigious technical skills to put the mechanical marauder back together!

Sentinel Vol. 2: No Hero

Stepping Out Of The Shadows

Written by Robyn Donald
Art by Ruka Kirishima
Purchase

Marisa can’t believe her eyes when Rafe Peveril, a gorgeous millionaire and brilliant business owner, steps into her shop after six years of not seeing each other. The last time she’d caught sight of him was during the aftermath of a terrible plane crash. Marisa has completely changed her identity since then, but she still remembers every detail of the man she embraced that night. Rafe, however, has no memory of it. Could Marisa hold the clue to restoring his lost memory?

Stepping Out Of The Shadows

Superman: Man of Tomorrow #17

Written by Stephanie Phillips
Pencils V Ken Marion
Inks V Ken Marion
Purchase

A hostage situation at a hospital calls for Superman to negotiate and bring an end to the dire setting. But when he learns why he’s been called, he’ll need to make a choice to give in to the criminal’s demands or risk everyone’s lives in the process!

Superman: Man of Tomorrow #17

This site contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from these sites. Making purchases through these links helps support the site.

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.

Underrated: Lee Falk And 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: Lee Falk and the Phantom.


phantom-311Born April 28th 1911, Leon Harrison Gross was a writer, theater director and producer perhaps best known by the name he would use after his college graduation: Lee Falk. He took the name Lee, a childhood nickname, and Falk the middle name of his stepfather. Falk was fascinated by the mystical arts and stage magicians as a boy, and as a result created Mandrake the Magician (who not coincidentally shared a resemblance to Falk himself) who debuted in 1934.

But it was Falk’s other creation, a strip he thought would only last a few weeks, that the writer is most well known for: The Phantom,  a character of a few notable “firsts.”

Looking back on the character with the benefit of history, and the internet, we are able to see his clear influence on so many of our favourite superheroes. First appearing in newspapers on February 17, 1936, the Phantom was the first character to wear the skintight costume worn by so many superheroes today. I won’t list them all.

The Phantom was also the first character to wear a mask with no visible pupils. 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 busts displayed no pupils (in fact they did; originally the eyes would have been painted on, and over time the paint had faded) which he felt gave them an inhuman, awe-inspiring appearance. In an interview published in Comic Book Marketplace in 2005, Falk said the Phantom’s skin-tight costume was inspired by Robin Hood, who was shown wearing tights in films and on stage.

Amazingly enough, The Phantom has been staring in new stories since his first appearance in 1936, predating the Man of Steel by a full two years (though one is decidedly more famous hand the other). However, not every Phantom story is about the same Phantom – there have been twenty one of them, and we have been given stories about a large number of the different Phantoms, making  The Ghost That Walks the first “legacy hero” (a mantle that has been shared by different characters; think Batman, Wolverine, Captain America).phantom strip.jpg

The first man to call himself the Phantom did so in 1536 when his father was murdered in an attack by pirates. Swearing an oath on the skull of his father’s murderer to fight evil, Christopher Walker became the first Phantom starting a legacy that would be passed from father to son for hundreds of years, earning a reputation of immortality, and nicknames such as The Ghost Who Walks, Guardian of the Eastern Dark, and The Man Who Cannot Die.

last phantom 5Whether the Phantom provided Bill Finger  with the inspiration for the Batcave or not the fact remains that the Skull Cave, the Phantoms subterranean hideout, predates Bruce Wayne’s fancy basement by a couple of years.  As with the body suit and mask, another standard of modern comics  can be found first in the Phantom strips – the legacy hero. One of the first legacy heroes in comics, the character’s origin establishes him as the 21st person to become the Phantom, predating the various Robins, Flashes, Captain Americas, and Captain Marvels by more than twenty years (the second Flash, Barry Allen, first appeared in 1956).

Although he 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

In what is easily the longest run by any writer on any comic book character to date, and clearly a labour of love for The Man Who Cannot Die’s creator, Lee Falk continued to write the Phantom until his death in 1999, writing a huge number of stories starring his creation (he even dictated his final story to his wife from his death bed). Falk  has never really been given the credit that he, or his creation, deserved. Together, and through the characters that have taken inspiration from them, they have influenced millions of people over nearly a century. That is why they’re Underrated.



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

Underrated: Six 90’s Comic Book Movies

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:  Comic Book Movies From The 90’s


With the cinematic landscape jam packed with comic book inspired movies these days, I had to wonder what the 90’s looked like, and whether any of those movies held up today. So I asked myself, I said “self, are there any movies that you feel are, for whatever reason, somewhat underrated?”

Turns out, there is.

A few things before we start; firstly, these comic book movies may have been well received when released, but may never have garnered as much attention as they deserved. Secondly, some of these movies I’m probably viewing with the rose tinted glasses of nostalgia so be prepared for some potentially foolish claims. Thirdly, this isn’t a complete, or inclusive, list and it is completely subjective.

phantom.jpgThe Phantom (1996)
This is probably one of the only comic book movie on this list with an actual spandex bodysuit in it, and Billy Zane does admirably well in the roll. I haven’t seen this movie since the 90’s, but not for lack of trying – it is very tough to track down for a reasonable price. The Phantom is a hugely enjoyable movie, so long as you take it for what it is (Guardians of the Galaxy, it is not), you can’t fail to not enjoy it. But do yourself a favour and skip the two part mini series released in 2010.

Batman Forever (1995)
Joel Shumacker ruined the Batman movie franchise with Batman and Robin, that’s no lie, but before he did that he made Batman Forever. I still enjoy this flick to this day. It echoes the Adam West TV show of the 1960’s, updating the camp foolishness of that time into a slightly more modern and darker time, bridging the gap expertly between Tim Burton’s films and the TV show. The movie stars because of its villains; Tommy Lee Jones’ Two Face and Jim Carry’s excellent portrayal of the Riddler.  No, the film isn’t the best batman movie out there, but it isn’t as bad as Shumacker’s other offering.

crow.jpgThe Crow (1994)
The Crow is a certified cult classic at this point, and with a new adaptation of the source material coming in the near future, I thought it would be worth familiarizing myself with one of my favourite movies (and was the genesis of this column). Brandon Lee is a revelation in this film, and the tragedy of his untimely death during filming only adds to the overwhelming sense of sadness and the themes of love that are woven through the movie. The film is a love story at heart, with just shy of half a dozen characters’ fates being intertwined through their actions; you’ll also notice some of the cinematography and visuals having an influence on some of the darker comic book movies that would follow.

rocketeer.jpgThe Rocketeer (1991)
A film in the vein of Indiana Jones and the adventure films of the 80’s, The Rocketeer is an entertaining romp set during the late 30’s as war brews in Europe. A stunt pilot finds a secret weapon, the jetpack, and struggles to win back his girl and stop the weapon from falling into the wrong hands. A genuinely entertaining film that you can watch with your kids (assuming you watch the adventures of Dr. Jones with them), The Rocketeer has long held a special place in my heart.

The Mask (1994)
Jim Carry’s rubber face is on full display in this outrageously fun and completely stupid offering. You can’t watch this without either laughing or rolling your eyes because The Mask is a movie that doesn’t take itself seriously at all, and nor should you take it seriously. Just watch it and enjoy the fun.

 



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

Zeismic
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