ACW #641 – Phantom Stranger
Action Comics Weekly #641 (Phantom Stranger)
Writer – Paul Kupperberg
Art – Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez
Letters – Tim Harkins
Colors – Petra Scotese
Editor – Renee Witterstaetter
Trudging ever closer to the end, and we get a… Phantom Stranger story? Oh, c’mon… why? Is this really necessary?
We open with a boy named Tommy Jones hopping into bed, grabbing his Illustrated Edition of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. He peers at an image of a dragon, and wouldn’tcha know it… at that very moment a nearby drug store goes up in flames. I’m sure there’s no connection. So, you might be asking: just who is this “Tommy” anyway? Well, he’s just some kid… who always finds himself being hassled by grown-ups. He can’t walk across their fences, or read comics in the store (It ain’t a liberry, after all!). He’s just a kid… with a bone to pick.
The next day, just as the Phantom Stranger himself arrives in town, we see the woman who shooed Tommy off her fence settling in to watch some television. Suddenly, there’s a rumbling… and before we know it, her house is destroyed! Before the walls come toppling down, however, she notices a great big beast stood outside her window… and it appeared to be taking direction from that no-good Tommy Jones!
When the Police arrive, the old lady tells them that Tommy’s responsible… and so, they follow up at the kid’s house. Naturally, upon arrival, they find the kid “fast asleep” in bed. “Fast asleep”, that is, until the Phantom Stranger arrives to conduct an interrogation of his own!
The Stranger calls the kid out on being a little jerk, and causing all of the recent destruction. Tommy’s all “screw this noise” and bails out the window. Unfortunately for us, this was just a first floor window… and so, the story must continue. As the Stranger goes to give chase, he is nearly struck by a giant reptilian tail that crashes through the house!
Outside, we see Tommy riding on the back of a great big dragon (named Rudolph). The Stranger appears right in their path… and so, the great beast breathes fire right at him. Of course, this isn’t very effective.
The Phantom Stranger pleads with the boy to stop being a little jerk, and points out all of the people he is hurting with his supernatural delinquency. When he mentions Tommy’s own parents, the kid seems to snap out of it… and the dragon vanishes. He falls into the Stranger’s arms… and thankfully, we out!
I feel like, over these past 1,400 or so days, I’ve discovered some “chestnuts” that I pop into my writing more often than I realized. Just little turns-of-phrase, or plays on words that… without ’em, this blog would probably be much shorter. So, stop me if you’ve heard this before: “Not much to say about this one…”.
The first time I flipped through this issue, in preparation for what was to come, I took one look at li’l Tommy Jones, and figured we were in for a “Send ’em to the Cornfield” sort of situation. And… I groaned. Boy, was I wrong… this kid pulling a Billy Mumy would have been just so much more interesting than what we actually wound up with here.
Kid’s a little jerk… kid has the power to manifest a dragon from his Fairy Tale book… Phantom Stranger tells ‘im to cut it out… and we’re done. Really not sure why we got so much Phantom Stranger during this run… and, no matter how interesting a story he gives us, he never fails to cause the “flow” of Action Comics Weekly (if there’s one to be found) to a screeching halt. Oh well, at least it had wonderful art… and, it was better than the Demon.
Tomorrow: The FINAL anthology chapter of Action Comics Weekly! Be there, or… ya know, don’t.