Cover art by Jamie Johnson.
The 22nd Phantom part 1; The Empty Throne by Claes Reimerthi with art by the late and great Paul Ryan. This story may spark some debate here in Australia as it did in Sweden! I do hope so, and I look forward to receiving your views and opinions on what at first glance appears to be the setup for transition to retirement series for our beloved 21st Phantom, or not, you be the judge! It is set in the near future, which will be useful for us all because as this storyline takes off in its own time zone, we can continue to bring you stories from the past and present that still feature the main man himself! There has been speculation for many years now regarding the likely succession of Kit and or Heloise when the time came for our 21st Phantom to take life a little easier in his dotage or heaven forbid fall foul of some evil doer! This multi part story set in the future would seem to be about to explore all those questions while leaving the door ajar for a 21st Phantom return. I think it’s what one might refer to as hedging the bet with a soft retirement. This is understandable since the loyal readership have only ever known the current Phantom, the 21st in the line since inception, well almost! Since there have been other stories that referred to the present Phantom as the 20th (e.g The Adventures of Lucy Cary). This confusing contradiction was finally ended in the mid-70’s by Lee Falk who declared the current Phantom to be the 21st at which time the Scandinavian publications followed. The notable exception being Bastei Verlag publications in Germany where the 15th Phantom is considered the current. But let’s not transgress with comic history technicalities this is serious stuff that has global implications for many thousands of Phantom Phans.
I can only talk in generalisations at this stage since you haven’t yet read the plot within, and believe it or not contrary to some people’s belief, I do attempt to refrain from giving too much away these days. However there is so much to consider about this particular storyline and its potential ramifications if indeed a succession is the long term intention. The personalities of the twins are for the first time open to scrutiny in more detail than ever before. The question of should it be Kit, or should it be Heloise to become the 22nd Phantom is bound to be asked at some point. Of the two, who is best equipped and would do a better job? Is this another bastion of masculinity that could be challenged by changing perceptions in societal norm? I’m anticipating a “Phantom isn’t for Sheilas” backlash from the Aussie man caves, so don’t disappoint, get those letters in! There are more questions than answers at this point. How about the Jamie Johnson covers, wow!