Book 1: Frew Issue No 173 – The Reporter
Title: Frew Replica Series # 09
Story: Lee Falk
Art: Wilson McCoy
Publisher: Frew Comics (Australia)
Publisher: Dudley Hogarth
Pages: 100 Pages (Black & White)
Price: Aus $9.50
Release Date (Print and Digital): 25 November 2016
Age Rating: All Ages
One Line: Reprinting the Iconic Back Issues of Frew Comics.
Synopsis: Three different stories published earlier in the Frew Comics are reprinted and they are put in their respective place in the history of the skull cave by the legendary Phantom Historian Barry Stubbersfield.
For those who came in late, Jungle patrol was founded by Phantom and its territory stretches from the coast for a hundred miles into the jungle and a thousand miles long, crossing six countries. “World” magazine sends reporters Maggy and Blake to do a story on the jungle patrol and as the regular norm in the Phantom series, Blake asks the million dollar question: Who is the unknown commander of the Jungle patrol?
Sometimes, certain questions better remain unanswered. If not, it will lead you to trouble and trouble is what Blake gets into. However, before he goes public with his story, the unknown commander of the jungle patrol, The Phantom, gives him an offer that he just cannot refuse. Ultimately, Blake realises the importance of the secret and decides not to publish his story.
The reporter was originally published as a daily strip in the year 1960.
Book 2: Frew Issue No 174 – The Governor and Suzie (Part 1)
The Phantom Boards a Ship (S.S.Harvey) and stays in his regular cabin (14). His masculine figure gets attracted and one among those is a certain Miss Suzie. Remember that, this story was published in 1943 as a daily strip and those were the times of Second World War threat of submarine attacks. Hence the ship follows the routine precautionary procedure of not having lights during the night and other safety measures. Those were the times when many such ships were disappearing in a mysterious way and Phantom gets involved in this, coincidentally.
Suzie is part of a Gang that was behind the disappearance of those ships and her attraction to Phantom proves dreadful, for both, Suzie and the pirate gang. Those were the early times of Phantom stories and the legend was beginning to build. There were no “Old Jungle Sayings” in those times and still you can see some of the caption boxes leading to them. The first part concludes with the ship being taken over by the pirate gang and Phantom being captured by the Governor’s men.
Book 3: Frew Issue No 175 – The Governor and Suzie (Part 2)
The concluding part of the story is the beginning of the true legend, One Man Army. Phantom escapes from the clutches of the Governor and is on the way to the state capital to meet the President to reveal the truth about the secret behind the missing ships and how the Governor is involved with that.
In the words of Suzie, “It’s 200 Miles to the capital and you’ve got one chance in Million”. Phantom being the legend that he is, takes that one chance in a million and the deadly game begins. The next 20 odd pages are absolute gold dust for a Phantom fan. The chases, the fighting’s, the escaping plans from the army and the police, the daring measures taken by Phantom, you’ll love it to the core. Lee Falk must’ve been in his best mood when he wrote these sequences.
Spoiler ahead: The climax of the story is one of the most romantic as well as dramatic scenes in the entire Phantom stories. The Governor, in his final bid to escape, shoots the Phantom to kill and Suzie runs between them and is shot. What comes next is the saddest sequence Lee Falk ever wrote. Suzie, on death bed, says “You’re the first man I’ve ever really loved. Yet, I’ve never seen your face. Will you let me see what you really look like?”.
The Myth surrounding the Phantom’s mask is, those who see the Phantom’s face, other than his family, will die. However, there are certain exceptions when Phantom lets his face to be seen and this is one such scenario. On seeing Phantom’s face, Suzie says, “ You look, as I’ve imagined”. To add to the entire situation, the climax part of the story was started during the valentine’s week in 1944. Truly romantic, isn’t it?
Final Point: Essential Phantom collector’s material.
Verdict: Highly Recommended (5/6)
(These are purely personal views of Comics Historian & Writer, King Viswa and AnimationXpress.com does not necessarily subscribe to these views)