Friday, January 8, 2016

Gold Key The Phantom #02

Welcome to the first official recap of the Phantom's Skull Cave! Based on the feedback I got back in October at my other blog, Kord Industries, I decided to start looking at the Ghost Who Walks, the Man Who Cannot Die...the Phantom! Since I already covered Gold Key's first issue over at Kord Industries, we'll start with #2 here. From writer Bill Harris and artist Bill Ligante we get not one, but two tales of the Phantom, "The Rattle" and "The Test"...and a gorgeous painted cover by George Wilson!

"The Rattle"

There are many legends in the jungle, including one about the yearly appearance of a rattle in the Phantom's own Skull Cave! It appeared to the Phantom's father, and his father before him...and no one knows why. 

This isn't the only mystery the Phantom ponders today though. The gold crown of the Llongo Chief has been stolen, and nearby villagers have seen a horned tiger! The Ghost Who Walks searches the chief's hut, and finds no way in...only a hole in the roof much too small for a man to climb through. 

As he rides out of the village on his horse Hero, he's attacked by the "horned" tiger. After quickly taking the beast down, he finds it's no horn at's a small arrow.When he returns to Skull Cave, he consults the Phantom Chronicles, and finds an entry from over 400 years ago in which one of his ancestors wrote about discovering the "LP hideout -- cave near Flying Eagle Rock", and still more about the "LP Prince", and the "Peace Treaty of the Rattle". At least one mystery is becoming clearer. Heading back out on Hero, with his faithful wolf Devil following behind, the Phantom heads to Flying Eagle Rock where, after crossing a river of lava, he finds himself attacked from the air and ground by little people! 

He tries to fight back, but their tiny weapons are poisoned and he falls. When he awakens he finds himself face to face with an apologetic King. The King knows the Phantom is there about the stolen Llongo crown, and the breaking of the Treaty of the Rattle. 

It's the work of a small group that have given him trouble. The ne'er do well little people refuse to return the crown and prepare to attack the Phantom again refusing to believe that he's the same man the treaty was made with 400 years ago, but cries of "dragon" interrupt them. The Phantom, armed only with a knife, takes on the reality a huge crocodile. With the reptile beaten, the LPs acknowledge that his is truly the Phantom, and renew their vows to never steal again!

"The Test"

The second story opens with a flying saucer landing in the jungle! Inside, alien beings begin to search for one of Earth's "intelligent beings". They plan to test whoever they find to determine if they can conquer and enslave the planet. Guess who just happens to be on patrol? 

They follow the Phantom from a distance, watching as a huge tiger leaps at our hero! After betting on the outcome, they're both surprised to see the Phantom beat the jungle cat. They move on with their plan to test him by setting a fire in the grass and destroying a bridge. They brand the Phantom a "coward" when he tosses a rope over the cavern, thinking he plans to save only himself. Instead, with rope and a boulder as a counterweight, he manages to bring both Devil and Hero to safety. The next part of the plan involves forcing the Phantom to confront a creature from their own inflatable space dragon. 

Cautiously the Ghost Who Walks approaches...and shoots! Angered they decide to attack with disintegrator rays, but miss allowing the Phantom to sneak up behind them. They try to hide, using a de-fraction ray, but receive command from their ship to reveal themselves and challenge the Phantom in hand-to-hand combat. They steal his guns before reappearing, but it doesn't matter. The Ghost Who Walks makes short work of the would be conquerors. 

Quickly disappearing again, the aliens retreat to their ship having decided if all men are as fearless, and able to out-shoot and out-fight them the way the Phantom did, then the Earth cannot be conquered! 

Well, that was an odd issue! Fun, but odd! What did you think? In my head I can easily reconcile the adventure with the little people. Many cultures the world over have tales and legends involving races of tiny humanoids, so why not the Phantom right? But that second story? Aliens? For some reason that one I have a harder time wrapping my head around. The Phantom paired with elements of fantasy I'm good with. The Phantom paired with sci-fi though? That's a little harder for me...but gives me an idea on what to look at next month...

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