This issue is number seven in Frew’s ‘Collectors Replica Series’ reprints issues 181, 180 and 179 from 1960.
No. 181 showcases the very first printing of the 1960 daily story ‘The Monkey Mail’ (previously titled ‘The Diamond Hijackers’) with art by Wilson McCoy! This story introduces the ‘monkey mail’ delivery chimps for the first time!
Back in 1960 a native would ask the postal clerk “Mail for Mister Walker.” A native relay runner takes it at the jungle’s edge – relay after relay ends at ‘The Great Swamp’ where the last ‘mailman waits’ for the monkey mail! The natives also advise the Phantom by tom-tom of incoming mail, ‘Message comes to Deep Woods.’ This story introduces a number of monkey mail chimps. The first chimp is Egbert, the second is Fofo and the third is Bibi and it is Bibi that is shot by the smugglers!
Have a look at Diana’s second letter to the Phantom, it is a cablegram addressed to Mr Walker, PO Box 7, Bengali! Surely the address should have been Morristown Bengali! The previous time Morristown was mentioned was in the 1950 Sunday story ‘The Mysterious Passenger’ No.1094, the next time it was mentioned was in the Sy Barry 1962 daily story ‘The Epidemic No.1032 when Diana does address mail to Mr Walker PO Box 7 Morristown Bengali. In the period in between these two stories there was no Morristown, just Bengali, Port of Bengali, Bengali Bay or Bengali Town.
For the first time the Jungle Patrol try to arrest the Phantom, in his ‘Mr Walker’ attire, as a diamond thief and murderer. Phantom to patrol: “No witnesses, no evidence, no warrant. Look in your rule book” then he disarms them! Colonel Weeks says “Naturally – he didn’t let them see him. They almost arrested their own Commander. Commander – Mr Walker – Wonder who else he is!” “The Phantom is many men –“ Old Jungle Saying.
No. 180 contains two stories. The first is the first publication of the 1955 Sunday story ‘The Crescent Cult’ and the second is the first publication of the 1955 Sunday story ‘The Horned Star Demons.’ The artist for both stories is Wilson McCoy. ‘The Crescent Cult’ contains the only reference to the ‘Queen of Bengali.’ The Queen of Bengali is one of only a few women to sit upon the Skull Throne. This story can be read complete in issue No. 1234.
‘The Horned Star Demons’ is the first story to feature alien life forms! The aliens test the Phantom to see how easily they can vanquish him and then the rest of the world! Thankfully they chose the Phantom! This story was published complete in issue No. 1226.
No. 179 contains the second publication of part 2 of the 1949/50 daily story ‘The Thuggees’ with art by Wilson McCoy. This story was previously published in issues No. 86 and 87 back in 1955. This daily story is both censored and contains a mystery! Compare No. 179 with the complete daily version in No. 1234 and the Sunday version in No. 1496. In No. 179 the long-bladed knife held in the long arm of the thuggee idol has been censored and deleted! But this page also shows two panels of Diana roped to the sacrificial altar of the idol! If you go to pages 36 and 37 of No. 1234, which is the uncut daily version, Diana is not shown on the altar at all! What did the Phantom save her from? It didn’t make any sense. But No. 179 does show two panels of Diana on the altar! These two panels came from the Sunday version of the story found on page 48 of No. 1496!