"Collectors Replica Series #8" - story by Lee Falk and art by Wilson Mc Coy and Ray Moore.
Cover art by Steve Shepherd.
Story : This issue is number eight in Frew’s ‘Collectors Replica Series’ and reprints issues 178, 177 and 176 from 1960.
No. 178 contains the second publication of part 1 of the 1949/50 daily story ‘The Thuggees’ with art by Wilson McCoy. This story was previously published in two issues No. 86 and 87 back in 1955. ‘The Thuggees’ was discussed in the previous replica issue but this story is basically a love story in which the Phantom starts out for America to ask Diana to marry him! Lee Falk then thwarts this happy event by placing the thuggees in the Phantom’s way. When the Phantom disposes of them he has to run the gauntlet of Prince Tydore’s only child the Princess Tari who is madly in love with him. Now when the Phantom frees himself of Tari and is once more united with Diana, who comes swinging through the trees, well not quite swinging, ‘The Ape Idol of the Durugu!’ ‘The Thuggees’ can be read complete in No. 1234.
No. 177 contains the third publication of part 2 of the 1947 daily story ‘Romance and the Vesta Pirates’ with art by Wilson McCoy. This story was previously published in No.4 back in 1948 and 65A! in 1953. All publications of this story focused only on ‘The Vesta Pirates’ with the ‘Romance’ part of the story (part 1 and part 3) deleted until Jim Shepherd published the story complete for the first time in No. 925A! and more recently in No. 1606.
The official title given for this story is simply ‘Romance’ but this doesn’t seem quite enough to describe the story where most of the action takes place with the Phantom fighting the Vesta Pirates! In this story Mama says to Dave “You’re my only brother…” and further she says “I’ll never give my blessing – never – never” to the Phantom marrying Diana! The Palmer family address is given as ‘Talesend Road.’ Don’t forget that famous telegram supposedly sent from the Phantom to Diana saying ‘Going on cruise. Will not return’ and the scene where the Phantom brings Kerry back to see Diana to explain things to her with armed guards lining the walk. Dave’s speech to Mama is a classic “Maybe he was afraid to come back alone.”
No. 176 showcases the first publication of the 1937/38 daily story ‘Little Toma’ also known as ‘Little Tommy,’ with art by the great Ray Moore. ‘Little Toma’ is one of the earliest Phantom stories it is strange that it took so long to appear in a Frew comic. I’m guessing that it was overlooked for quite some time. Regarding the Phantom’s immortality, a remote jungle tribal witch-doctor says “We witch-doctors know that the Phantom line has passed down from father to son many times…” In ‘The Thuggees,’ mentioned above, the jungle chief says “Our people think he never dies – but we chiefs know better – That he is a mortal man.”
Reynold’s, Tommy’s father, was a missionary who lived on the ‘Upper Tylani River’ and it is around this time that the Phantom’s home moved from the ‘Island of Luntok,’ near Java, (last mentioned in ‘The Sky Band’ 1936/37) to an area that may be near India? Bad weather is attributed to the Phantom on board the ‘S.S.Bradley K’ and the superstitious crew blame him (the Phantom) calling him ‘a jinx – a jonah.’ On board the ship the Phantom and Tommy stay in Cabin 14 for the first time. One of the most famous fight scenes ever drawn by Ray Moore appears on 11 and 12 January 1938 when the Phantom fights Tai’s bodyguards. ‘Little Toma’ was published complete in No. 931A and in No. 1249.