SHOWCASE PRESENTS THE PHANTOM STRANGER VOL. 2 (DC, 2008; softcover)
Collects The Phantom Stranger Nos. 22-41, The Brave and the Bold Nos. 89, 98, DC Super Stars No. 18, House of Secrets No. 150, and Justice League of America No. 103 (cover dates May, 1970- March, 1978)
After reading over 1,000 pages of Phantom Stranger stories between these two phonebook-sized trade paperbacks and still not knowing the character's origin, I had to head over to Wikipedia (loathe as I am to admit it) for clarification. I like to, you know, read material and interpret and decide for myself what things are. Kind of like how things were in the olden days, before the Internet. The answer is that there is no answer...at least, no definitive answer for his origin. That's cool. I kind of like the mystique and the hints and insinuations, and have my own idea what he truly is. I'm not telling you, though; I'd rather you read it and figure it out for yourself.
The quality of this title nosedives, largely because of "artist" Gerry Talaoc, who is the very definition of a hack. There is nothing about his artwork that I like, and he leaves me cold. The bright spot in the book is when Mike Grell fills-in on Issue 33. I had never seen his artwork but have heard others rave about it. I can see why. He turns in some of the finest comic book artwork that I have ever seen, and I am interested in looking further into his body of work down the road.
The Phantom Stranger's popularity wanes, and his title turns into first a title with a back-up feature (Frankenstein by Marv Wolfman) and then a co-star on his own title with Deadman. Deadman was also on the outs in terms of popularity, this being after his much celebrated Neal Adams run. The title ends with a whimper, and the Phantom Stranger pops up in a couple more titles before vanishing into the mists of time...at least for a while. There was a mini-series in 1987 and a few odds and ends (thanks, ComicBookDB!) and then only guest appearances. I think that it's high time we got a Phantom Stranger revival.
THE COMPLETE DRACULA (Dynamite, 2010; softcover)
Collects The Complete Dracula Nos. 1-5 (cover dates May- December, 2009)
This is a super dense and text heavy read, but is so darn good. Leah Moore (yes, Alan Moore's daughter) and John Mark Rappion adapt Bram Stoker's original story and add in his 'lost' or 'deleted' segment in the beginning. This is Gothic Horror at its finest, and artist/ colorist Colton Worley really adds a ton to the atmosphere. Every single panel looks like a painting and is gorgeous. I give this a very high recommendation if you are into this type of stuff.
THE ASTOUNDING WOLF-MAN VOL. 4 (Image, 2010 copyright, actually released in 2011; softcover)
Collects The Astounding Wolf-Man Nos. 19-25 (cover dates October, 2009- November, 2010)
This, the fourth and final trade in the series, leaves many doors open for a hopeful re-visitation down the road. The ending sits well enough with me that I will check out the next Robert Kirkman/ Jason Howard "joint", Super Dinosaur, whenever the trade gets released. Knowing Kirkman,'s timeliness with release dates, that should be sometime in the Fall... of 2012.