Monday, May 9, 2011

Reviews from the 86th Floor: Barry Reese reviews The Phantom: KGB Noir - The Hammer

Written by Mike Bullock
Art by Fernando Peniche
ISBN 978-1933076805

This black-and-white trade collects the six issue limited series and also includes artist sketches and liner notes from the author. As Mike Bullock mentions in his notes, this series was changed midstream in length and I think that contributes to the breakneck pace that this has -- it starts with action and never lets up. While this gives it all a movie serial kind of feel, it does make it kind of hard to get into the heads of the villains: they feel very shallow and more character types than people. But the artwork is fetching and the story has a lot of exciting action sequences so it all adds up to a great summer action flick kind of ambiance. It's fun to see the Phantom in a different setting, too, though I do kind of miss Diana and the kids -- but with the pacing of this story, there's no room for them. One thing that struck me was that there's no explanation of who or what the Phantom is -- it didn't deter me, since I love the Phantom and realize that most people who would buy this probably do, too. But I do believe in Jim Shooter's axiom that every issue is somebody's first and that you should always manage to explain a character's motivations, etc. in some manner -- but, again, with the pacing here, there was little to no time for reflection. Is this the best Phantom story I've seen from Mike Bullock? No. But it's still a great, fun read and comes highly recommended to diehard Phantom fans. If you're new to the character, I wouldn't start here since there's little in the way of "classic" lore but if you're familiar with the hero and want something a bit different, this could fit the bill.