TRINITY OF SIN- THE PHANTOM STRANGER VOL. 1: A STRANGER AMONG US (DC, 2013; Softcover)
Collects The Phantom Stranger Nos. 0-5 (cover dates November, 2012- April, 2013)
Writer: Dan Didio and J.M.Dematteis (Nos. 4 and 5)
Artists: Brent Anderson (Penciler) and Philip Tan, Rob Hunter, and Scott Hanna (inkers).
Colorists: Ulises Arreola and Jeromy Cox
Like all of these New 52 DC titles, this is equal parts reboot and jumping on point for new and/or lapsed readers. No knowledge of any previous Phantom Stranger stories are necessary for you to understand and enjoy this book. I am not an expert on the character but am very familiar with the Bronze Age stuff. I've read both Showcase Presents phone books and a handful of other appearances, more then enough for me to have a firm grasp on the concept. This reboot almost answers the question of who and what the Phantom Stranger really is. The only thing missing is bold lettering with the name Judas on it. That's right, the Phantom Stranger is basically the same guy who betrayed Jesus Christ and is now trying to atone for his sins, answering to “The Voice”.
I kind of liked the more ambiguous, strongly hinted at but never really revealed origin that the character had before. This version is spelled out a little too clearly for my tastes. That said, I really enjoyed this book. How could I not? Veteran creators Dan Didio and Brent Anderson heap development on top of development. In the course of this first arc we see the New 52 debut of The Spectre and The Question, as well as Terence Thirteen. In the original series Doctor Thirteen was known as The Ghost Breaker, a skeptic who was always locking horns with The Phantom Stranger, trying to debunk him with science. It was an ongoing thing back then. This version of Terence Thirteen is firmly in The Phantom Stranger's corner, with The Ghost Breaker being an ancestor of his. Again, I prefer the original incarnation.
In spite of those two major changes, I really enjoyed this. The Phantom Stranger as Judas riff is an interesting one, as he has to continually betray people for the greater good as dictated by The Voice. In this version of the character his necklace is made up of the coins that he got paid for betraying Jesus, and every time he makes amends one of those coins falls off. I'm on board for Volume 2
Junk Food For Thought rating: 5 out of 5.
The OCD zone- The Trinity of Sin branding of this book is a detriment to the series. I believe that it will dissuade, not persuade, a casual buyer into picking up the book. Then again, are there any casual Phantom Stranger fans out there?
Paper rating: 4.5 out of 5. Nice weight glossy coated stock.
Binding rating: 4 out of 5. Glued binding.
Cardstock cover coating rating: 5 out of 5. Excellent quality fully laminated cardstock cover.