Review: The Phantom Stranger #33

The Phantom Stranger #33 cover
Cover by Jim Aparo

The Phantom Stranger #33
Published and © by DC, October-November 1974

Title: “Deadman’s Bluff!”
Synopsis: Intent on tracking down his own killer, Deadman learns a lesson about the cost of vengeance from the Phantom Stranger.

Writer: Arnold Drake
Artist: Mike Grell

Review: From a story standpoint, the Phantom Stranger could be a tough nut to crack. Many of the character’s adventures lack action, with the Stranger seemingly content to stand around moralizing and delivering ponderous, philosophical dialogue. This morality tale by Arnold Drake is pretty standard fare then, and even a guest appearance by the usually interesting Deadman fails to add spark. It does get a boost from one of Mike Grell’s earliest DC outings. The art is marred by inconsistent anatomy and perspective, but Grell’s work is already polished enough to announce he’s going to be a Bronze Age star.

Grade: B

Cool factor: Early Mike Grell art.
Not-so-cool factor: The Phantom Stranger. He’s like DC’s answer to Black Bolt: If you’re so damn powerful, why don’t you actually do something already?

Notable: Guest-starring Deadman. … LoC from future comics writer Mark Verheiden.

Collector’s note: According to the Grand Comics Database, there is a National Book Store variant of this issue. … According to MyComicShop.com, there is also a Mark Jewelers variant.

Character quotable: “I’m a simple guy! Easy to satisfy! All I want is the blood of the man who killed me!” – Deadman, trapeze artist formerly known as Boston Brand

Editor’s note: This review was originally published by Comics Bronze Age on March 22, 2013.

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