Phantom Stranger

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The Phantom Stranger (dt. About "the phantom stranger") is the title of several comic series and other comic publications that are published since 1952 by the US publisher DC Comics .

The Phantom Stranger is about a mysterious being, known only as the "Stranger", who for unknown reasons takes on the research of paranormal processes and is involved in conflicts with other beings and forces of a magical-occult nature. Accordingly, the series of publications published under the title Phantom Stranger can usually be assigned to the genres of mystery , horror and scary comics .

Release dates

The first series that DC brought out under the title The Phantom Stranger appeared between August / September 1952 and June / July 1953 every two months. The series was designed to be published continuously, but was discontinued after only six issues due to poor sales. All editions of this first series were written by John Broome , while the draftsman Carmine Infantino - supported by Jack Miller, John Giunta and Manny Stallman - took care of their artistic design.

A second series under the title Phantom Stranger , which totaled forty-one issues, was published by DC between May / June 1969 and February / March 1976. It was preceded by a "test" story about the character that appeared in January 1969 in issue # 80 the experimental series Showcase was published. Since the Stranger story in Showcase # 80 met with a sufficiently positive response from the readers, a new, second Phantom Stranger series was started, which, like the previous series, appeared every two months. The first three issues of the series brought reprints of stories from the first series, which were, however, supplemented by new frameworks. The following 38 issues, which appeared up to the discontinuation of the series with issue # 41 in February / March 1976, brought new stories specially created for this series. The author of the second Stranger series was Len Wein , best known today for the character of Wolverine , which he created for Marvel Comics , while the draftsman's tasks were taken care of by artists such as Jim Aparo , Neal Adams and Tony Dezuñiga. The series also contained four so-called back-up series, which dealt with the adventures of other characters: the most important of these told the experiences of the ghost hunter Doctor Thirteen , who also appeared regularly as a character in the actual Stranger series. All in all, the series proved to be much more successful than the first series for the Stranger, which manifested itself primarily in higher sales figures, which gave the series a significantly longer running time.

A third series, conceived from the outset as a self-contained four-part mini-series, appeared between October 1987 and January 1988 on a monthly basis. The outstanding artist in this series was the American Mike Mignola .

Two one-shots have since been released, Phantom Stranger (1993) and Batman / Phantom Stranger (1997). In addition, the Stranger often appeared as a guest star in other comic series owned by the DC publisher such as Superman , Wonder Woman or Justice League .

Main character and plot

The title character of Phantom Stranger is a nameless man (sometimes called "The Brotherless One", "Gray Walker" or "Wandering Jew"), who is always referred to as "Stranger" by his enemies and allies. The Stranger is devoted to research into paranormal processes for unspecified reasons and repeatedly comes into conflict with other adepts of the occult arts.

In all publications of the title, the stranger's face remains hidden from both the reader and the characters appearing within the fictional plot: a fedora hat pulled low over the forehead, as well as wide turned up trench coat collars, but above all graphic artifacts that reflect his physiognomy Always make it appear as a shadowy, opaque something, make it impossible for the reader looking at the stories to ascribe individual facial features to him: his eyes are always hidden by a dark shadow. The stranger's face remains hidden from the other characters within the plot by shielding it from them by magic, so that they, like the reader, can only see dark blackness instead of facial contours when they look at him.

The mini-series from the 1980s for the first time revealed background of Strangers, which was presented here as an agent of the so-called "Prince of order" (Lords of Order) in an eternal conflict with the agents of the "Prince of Chaos" ( Lords of Chaos involved) one of which is the sinister Eclipso with which he is dealing for the first time here. To what extent this story can still be considered canonical today is unclear. Since it has not been picked up in the last 20 years, there is much to suggest that it has been tacitly declared null and void, which would mean that the background of the stranger is still in the dark.

In 1990, an issue of the Secret Origins series presented four different possible origin stories of the Stranger, in which four different artist teams describe their ideas about the origin of the dark hero. Alan Moore and Joe Orlando tell a story in which the Stranger is introduced as a fallen angel doomed to roam the earth forever since he was cast out of both Heaven and Hell. This came about, according to this story, because during Satan's biblical rebellion against God , the angel could not choose either side (God / heaven and Satan / hell) and instead simply stood undecided as an impartial person. A second story claims that the Stranger was a noble person who lived in Old Testament times. Because of his godly way of life, he was one of the few people whom God had saved from the flood through his angels . Then the man had doubts about his wisdom and goodness in view of the innumerable sacrifices that the wrath of God demanded during the flood. He then committed suicide. After his death, God's angels prevented him from entering the kingdom of heaven, so that the man has since been forced to walk forever in his revived body on earth. Since then, the stranger has dedicated himself to the goal of turning mankind from the path of evil. The third story states that the Stranger was originally a man named Isaac, whose wife and son were killed during the Bethlehem child murder . Isaac spent the following thirty years holding Jesus , who was murdered, responsible for the death of his child. During the Passion , Isaac lived out his hatred of Jesus by whipping him. The latter then condemned him to wander the earth beyond his homeland until the Last Judgment . The fourth story, in turn, reports that the Stranger is a holdover from the universe that preceded the present one. The destruction of this ancient universe was brought about by a group of scientists. Shortly before the annihilation of the old universe, the stranger gave a piece of this universe, so that (after the annihilation of the old one) it became the stranger of the new universe. In the Elseworlds story Kingdom Come , another version is hinted at: Here it is assumed that the Stranger is the time-traveling son of Superman and Wonder Woman from the future or from a parallel universe or another timeline.

In numerous other publications such as the Books of Magic or some Superman comics, the Stranger appears as an invisible narrator and observer or as a spiritual advisor and guide to the protagonist, who shows them the right way to solve a crisis. He is usually only allowed to give advice without actively intervening in the action.

The stranger who can move freely through space and time, can survive in space without technical aids, has insight into the thoughts of others and also has access to a mystical dimension, is often referred to as having a disembodied voice - apparently God or a divine being in whose commission he acts - shown holding a dialogue.

In the fourth series Trinity of Sin: The Phantom Stranger , Judas Iscariot was condemned to repent as the eponymous title character together with Pandora and Question (all together formed the Trinity of Sin , English Trinity of Sin ). He wore the 30 pieces of silver as a chain around his neck. The series appeared from 2012 to 2014 as part of The New 52 with issues # 0 to 22, as well as a special issue.

Other figures in the Phantom Stranger series

Above all, the second Phantom Stranger series, started in 1969, included an ensemble of recurring minor characters, as well as some striking, perennial opponents. The secondary characters included the blind clairvoyant Cassandra Craft (from issue # 17), to whom the Stranger developed a tentative attraction, the alchemist / magician Tannarak (from issue # 10) and an obscure contemporary named Doctor Thirteen. With the Dark Circle (from issue # 20) and the demonic magician Tala (from issue # 4), the figure was given two archenemies relatively early on.

Cassandra Craft

Cassandra Craft is a blind clairvoyant and the stranger's occasional mistress. She mostly appeared in stories from the 2nd Stranger series of the 1970s. There she made her debut as a supporting character in issue # 17. The character was last seen in the Phantom Stranger stories that appeared in the Action Comics Weekley series.

Dark Circle

The Dark Circle is a criminal organization with which the Stranger is enemies. The Circle was featured in Adventure Comics # 367 as a group of insurgents living in the 30th century who intend to conquer the Confederation of the United Planetes.

Doctor Occult

See article Doctor Occult .

Doctor Thirteen

Dr. Terrence Thirteen or Dr. 13 is a scientist and ghost hunter that the Stranger has to deal with over and over again. Thirteen is presented in most of the stories as a former parapsychologist who has made it his business to investigate apparently supernatural processes in order to convict them as charlatanisms.

The character was originally featured in Star Spangled Comics # 122 of November 1951 as a hero of a custom feature that continued through issue # 130 of July 1952. In Showcase # 80 he was eventually added to the Stranger as a supporting character and remained so in the Stranger series of the 1970s. During this time, Doctor Thirteen was finally raised again to the hero of his own feature. This appeared, logically, in the back pages of the Stranger series.

Thirteen is mostly portrayed as a slightly zealous man who intends to expose any form of supposed magic as fraud, misbelief, illusion or deception. Accordingly, he always finds physical explanations to explain apparently supernatural phenomena. He lives with his daughter, Traci Thirteen , who to his chagrin is a sorceress, in a country house called Doomsbury Mansion and offers his services to anyone interested in determining whether events that are apparently magical in nature are actually of supernatural origin or whether it is just false spooks.


Tala is an evil, if outwardly attractive, magician from hell and the archenemy of the stranger. She was first sent into battle in Phantom Stranger # 4 from November / December 1969 against the "phantom stranger". Since then she has faced the Stranger repeatedly, occasionally supported by other adversaries such as the wizard Tannarak - with whom she has a relationship - or the Lords of Chaos.

In various stories Tala tries to corrupt the souls of mortals or to bring mischief to the world in general. Other stories show Tala working as a waitress at the Bewitched nightclub between her "missions" . An erotic attraction between her and the stranger is hinted at in several stories, but never realized. In the cartoon series "Justice League Unlimited" Tala (US dubbing voice: Juliet Landau ) appeared as the director of the questionable government project Cadmus and a member of the group Legion of Doom led by Superman's arch enemy Lex Luthor .


Tannarak is a magician who longs for power and immortality and next to Tala the second archenemy of the Phantom Stranger. It made its debut in 1970 in issue # 10 of the second Phantom Stranger series. In order to achieve his goals Tannarak made alliances with dark forces like Chaos and Hell, who assist him in his actions. As Books of Magic # 39 revealed, Tannarak is immortal despite the fact that it is subject to the aging process.

Traci Thirteen

Traci Thirteen is a teenage sorceress who occasionally appears in the Stranger stories. Traci Thirteen, who first appeared in the comic book Superman # 189 from February 2003 (author: Joe Kelly ; draftsman: Pascual Ferry ), is the daughter of Doctor Thirteen of another Stranger minor character.

Thirteen has been miraculously gifted with magical powers since she was born: Most stories only give a succinct explanation for this that she is a homo magi , a member of a rare type of person who has magic “in their blood”. As a child, her father - who does not believe in magic or does not want to believe - forbids her to use her powers, so she finally runs away from home and settles in the big city of Metropolis . There she joins two other girls, Natasha Irons and Cir-El, to form a clique of young daredevils who experience all kinds of adventures that lead them into battle with occult powers. She later returns to her father, with whom she lives in the strange Doomsbury Mansion .


  • Showcase Presents the Phantom Stranger , 2006 (500+ pages reprinted of stories by Aparo, Anderson, Infantino, Kanigher, and others from Showcase # 80, and Phantom Stranger # 1-21)

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. All issues were published in German by Panini Comics in 2014 and 2015 , see .