|The PHANTOM copyright KING FEATURES SYNDICATE, Inc|
Saturday, 1 October 2016
THE GHOST-WHO-WALKS (OR: YOU'RE TOO OLD FOR PHARAOH TALES)...
Comics creators who contributed to CHARLTON COMICS were allowed a freedom that wasn't offered by other comicbook companies. Charlton were reputed to pay the lowest page rates in the business, but writers felt compensated by the lack of editorial 'interference' that was par for the course at MARVEL and DC (and doubtless other comics publishing companies as well).
So, good for the writers and maybe even the artists, but that didn't always necessarily translate into a superior product for the readers. Case in point: The PHANTOM #32, published in 1969. The plot involves a fake Pharaoh Phantom who seeks to usurp the position of the true 'Ghost-Who-Walks'. Strangely though, the other Phantom is in Egypt, not Bengali, where the genuine Phantom has his jungle kingdom.
It's an entertaining enough little tale. A royal sarcophagus is discovered during an excavation in Egypt's Valley Of Kings. The lid is pried open and a mummified figure is exposed, who soon magically unravels and is revealed as The Pharaoh Phantom, who declares the real Phantom to be an imposter. By use of seemingly supernatural means, the fake performs impressive displays of power that puts the genuine article deep in the shade.
As you can see in the accompanying pages, he's eventually exposed as the fraud he is, but - wait a minute - no explanation is ever given as to how he managed to plant himself in that sealed sarcophagus in a closed burial chamber to begin with. His magical images from the past are shown to be the result of a projector on a screen, but just how did he manage to create these filmed images? A huge budget would surely be required, and if they were merely extracted from a movie, it would be obvious. I'm sure that most readers would've liked to know how he accomplished it, and have found the story more rewarding as a result.
STAN LEE, I'm sure, wouldn't have let this story pass without these aspects being explained, but whoever edited this issue obviously thought such things unimportant. I disagree. Creative freedom is all very well, but it's no excuse for laziness. The readers deserve better, and had Charlton insisted that their writers put in a little more effort (and paid them better), the company might yet be around today. Verdict? Charlton produced lightweight, entertaining comics, but they could have done far better.
Got a view on the matter? The comments section awaits.
Posted by Kid at Saturday, October 01, 2016