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Tag Archive: The Phantom


Review by C.J. Bunce

Much like Hergé and his Tintin and Christin and Mézières’ Valerian and Laureline, another story read by millions of Europeans in the 20th century but overlooked by the masses in America is finally making its way overseas.  This time its the villain Fantômas who is coming to America, the star of a series of some 43 novels and 15 films, a popular crime novel readers in Europe have flocked to read about beginning in 1911 with Marcel Allain and Pierre Souverstre‘s team-written novel Fantômas, followed by a succession of comics and other adaptations.  Writer Olivier Bocquet and artist Julie Rocheleau pulled ideas from the original novel series for their award-winning 2013 work, The Wrath of Fantômas, which is being released in an English translation for the first time tomorrow.

First previewed by Titan Comics at the Diamond Retailer Lunch at San Diego Comic-Con last year, The Wrath of Fantômas is steeped in literary history.  The masked, black-gloved Fantômas has been said to have inspired the 1930s comic strip character The Phantom (1936), who in turn inspired Batman (1939), but Fantômas isn’t the first superhero character.  That designation traditionally goes to the title hero of Baroness Orczy’s The Scarlet Pimpernel, created a few years earlier in 1905, who inspired, in turn, Zorro in 1919.  But it won’t take long for readers to pick up the same disdain for corrupted governments and leaders throughout the 19th and 20th centuries from the vantages of Fantômas, Sir Percy Blakeney, and others, that continued to spread across the world, reflected well into the 20th century with anti-heroes like the Guy Fawkes-masked V in Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta.

Fantômas is pursued by the fiercely zealous and savvy Inspector Juve, a character that critic and author Kim Newman has cited as the inspiration for Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther series.  Juve is as determined as Javert, and Victor Hugo’s chief antagonist from 1862’s Les Misérables was no doubt an inspiration for Juve–he’s Javert seen as noble and loyal, but also just, heroic, and good.  His nemesis Fantômas is merciless toward his targets and in his methods, killing for vengeance, and seemingly for no reason, and no woman or child or man is out-of-bounds for his fury.

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Kings Watch 01 -Cover-Laming    Kings Watch 01 -Cov-Perez

Classic fantasy characters are thriving in the pages of monthly comic book series published by Dynamite Comics.  Look for Flash Gordon, The Phantom and Mandrake the Magician, brought together for the first time this month in Kings Watch. 

You’ve likely heard of Flash Gordon and The Phantom but you might not be familiar with Mandrake the Magician.  Mandrake is a character created by Lee Falk in 1934–before he created The Phantom.  A magician using hypnosis, psychic and telekinetic powers, he was the feature character in a King Features Syndicate comic strip written by Falk for 65 years–from 1934 to 1999.  Some historians refer to Mandrake as the very first comic superhero.

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Kings Watch adds yet another classic team-up monthly to the enormous catalog of classic characters maintained by Dynamite today, including The Lone Ranger, Green Hornet, The Shadow, Bionic Man and Bionic Woman, Zorro, Red Sonja, Buck Rogers, and Ms. Fury.

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