Written by: J.M. DeMatteis
Art by: Fernando Blanco pages 1-13 & 17-20 and Miguel Sepulveda pages 14-16
Published by: DC Comics
Phantom Stranger has been raising the bar so high for DC Comics, it’s no wonder that it’s always at the top of my read pile.
When J.M. DeMatteis solely took over Phantom Stranger, it was a total fan-girl moment. I didn’t have all the back-story on Phantom Stranger, but I quickly learned that he was my favorite kind of character. He has dedicated his life to redeeming himself. He entered Hell then Heaven, only to leave his loved ones behind. He didn’t leave empty handed though and brought back Chris Esperanza. I think the Phantom Stranger feels responsible for Chris, because he was murdered by the Sin Eater. This is the common thread that bonds the Phantom to Chris. This is what makes this issue so sympathetic. Phantom was able to take Chris from Heaven. In turn, Blight has taken over Chris’s body, and is terrorizing Chris’s family. On top of all that, the cute little terrier dog (God) appears to the Phantom telling him that Blight plays an important role. He tells him that the Phantom must aid Blight. That is what is so fantastic about this book. You don’t ever see what is coming next. It is very unpredictable. You want to cheer for The Stranger, and at the same time you aren’t really sure whose side he is on. I don’t want to ruin it, but there is an interesting twist to the Chris storyline. You will have to read it to find out. It just adds to the magnificent story that DeMatteis is laying out for us.
The art is superb, and I like the fact that there were 2 artists working on it. The art changes once we see Constantine and Swamp thing. Sepulveda uses warm orange colors and the faces look amazing. I’m not too familiar with his work, but these 2 pages made me a fan. Blanco’s colors are blues and reds. The detail in the panels fits the story that is being told. I am very happy with how this issue looks.
There is also a much bigger picture here as the Phantom Stranger is transported back at the House of Mystery, Nightmare Nurse heals him. John Constantine is struggling with the darkness that has been consuming them. The Phantom Stranger comes to the realization, that Heaven must be held accountable. Time and time again it has allowed the darkness to win. This beautiful story will continue in John Constantine #10 “Two fingers to Heaven.” I have to admit that I haven’t been keeping up on Constantine. The way that DeMatteis writes him in Justice League Dark is wonderful, and I find myself really wanting to read it from the beginning. I like flawed characters that have a heart. They are my favorite kind.
5 out of 5 nerds