Action Comics Weekly #632 (Phantom Stranger)
“Cat and Mouse, Chapter II”
Writer – Paul Kupperberg
Artist – Fred Carrillo
Letters – Albert DeGuzman
Colors – Petra Scotese
Editor – Renee Witterstaetter
After the tremendous highs of finally meeting Lord Malvolio yesterday to… some gaudy dude who looks like he just escaped Marvel Limbo to rattle the Phantom Stranger’s cage. Action Comics Weekly certainly works in mysterious ways…
We pick up right where we left off… Tannarak has crashed the party, and is not ominously pointing at our hero. We learn that, last time these two met (whenever that was), the Stranger was able to destroy ol’ ‘Rak… however, the Lords of Chaos were able to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. Doctor Thirteen stands by, being all incredulous… like, annoyingly so. Thankfully, Cassandra suggests he kindly shut uppa his face.
The Stranger chases Tannarak out of the apartment, and advises Terry and Cassie against following them. Yeah, like that’s gonna work! Our hero tries to get Tannarak to fight him fairly, however, the baddie reminds him that he is indeed… a baddie, and proclaims that he’d rather fight dirty. Oh boy. As this chase continues, Cassandra dupes a cabbie into “following those glowing men in the sky”.
Turns out the chase made it all the way from the East Side of Manhattan to the Bronx Zoo. Now, Tannarak is surrounded by the entirety of their large cats exhibit. After some cliche pleasantries are exchanged, he begins casting a spell.
Doctor Thirteen and Cassandra Craft hop the fence, and arrive just in time to see… well, Tannarak transform all of the Zoo Critters into a fairly generic-looking feline demon beast thing.
I never thought I’d be saying this, but… I think I found a story that might be best told in the two-page “Sunday Strip” format! This is… just painfully dull. A throwback, without any of the charm.
A shame, really… considering our last few ACW “visits” with the Phantom Stranger have been quite strong! This feels like something that had been lining an editor’s drawer for… probably over a decade? I’m not saying that’s what happened… but, it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that it had! It makes Action Comics Weekly look and feel like a sort of “clearing house”… which, heck, for all I know, is exactly what they were using it for this late in the game!
Whatta we got here? Tannarak acts like the most generic of villains… and summons his “son” the Cat Beast to destroy the Phantom Stranger? All the while, Dr. Thirteen won’t shut his gob about the impossibility of everything going on? Dude… you live in the DC Universe, get over it.
Anyhoo… story could’ve probably been told (better) in eight-panels rather than eight-pages… but, whattayagonnado?
Tomorrow: A different kind of “Cat” strikes…