The new stories bring back a relatively new Phantom enemy in The Revenge of The Python and for a complete change of pace, The Phantom discovering yet another unknown jungle civilisation in The Lost Kingdom of Avaria.
The old adventures are the historically important The Fence, a classic daily which first appeared in 1971 and is illustrated by Sy Barry and the 1943 Sunday, The Ismani Cannibals, beautifully rendered by Wilson McCoy and possibly an assistant or two.
The Revenge of The Python will be continued in a future edition because this evil character is obviously to be punished by The Phantom and no matter his fate, is unlikely to completely disappear.
He has far too much charisma for writer Tony DePaul to dispense with him in the immediate future!
The Lost Kingdom of Avaria is also unlikely to fade away!
This mysterious jungle settlement is very close to Baronkhan and hence the immediate future of The Phantom’s foster son Rex.
You may come to the conclusion that The Phantom (and young Kit, who plays a big role in the adventure) solves all the problems by the end of this adventure.
Not necessarily so! Lost cities and lost empires have always played a huge part in the long history of The Phantom line and this kingdom, populated as it is by Amazon-style female warriors, is destined to be re-visited!
I know you will find the two old Lee Falk stories in this edition absolutely fascinating.
The Fence was an attempt by Lee to highlight the possibility of the establishment of an international ‘trade’ in kidnapping famous people for profit.
As usual, he was light years ahead of even recognised crime experts with his prediction.
Such activities not only came into vogue in a really major way, but still flourish today.
(Just think of ocean-going pirates plying their terrible ‘trade’ in the China Sea and the east coast of the African continent!)
‘The Fence’, who is never identified by his real name, is quite a character who should probably have been returned in several more stories!)
The much older adventure, The Ismani Cannibals, is a largely semi-humorous story and contains the best Phantom artwork ever created by Wilson McCoy.
Wilson was the absolute master of plain (and often blank) backgrounds for his Phantom stories, but in this adventure, went to enormous lengths to include highly detailed backgrounds, some of which are so complicated it’s hard not to consider the possibility he had some outside assistance.
It is known that Wilson’s wife hand lettered his Phantom artwork in many stories over his long (1943-1961) involvement as The Phantom artist, but if outside artists were called in to help, their names have never been revealed!
When you compare McCoy’s work on The Ismani Cannibals to many of his later daily and Sunday stories, the quality difference is quite startling!
Another Phantom mystery?...