Two months ago, when “The Last Phantom” #1 came out, former CBR reviewer/current CBR columnist Tim Callahan gave the issue half a star and wrote, “Perhaps the series should be retitled: ‘The Last Phantom For Now, Sure, But It Will Make Your Eyes Bleed.'” I didn’t disagree, but hoped the second issue would offer some improvement with the awkwardness of introducing the concept having been accomplished. And there is improvement, but not much at all. It’s still a painfully obvious and clunky comic with ugly, overly rendered art.
At the end of last issue, Kit Walker reclaims the Phantom mantle after his family is butchered as part of a coup in Bengali, Africa. He did this by pouring blood over his body, and becoming an angrier, more ‘extreme’ version of the Phantom as he seeks revenge against those that killed his family. And that’s pretty much all he does here, by slaughtering the mercenaries that did the killing despite their cloaking technology. There’s an emphasis on Kit’s ability to sense them through their body odors and sounds they make, playing off the opening scene where his father tested him through somewhat extreme measures.
Kit taking revenge here lacks the proper context to actually mean anything. It’s simply violence that doesn’t provide emotional closure or tell us anything other than Kit can kill people in a brutal fashion. We don’t care about Kit yet. Prior to the violence breaking out last issue, we barely saw him and, here, all he does is kill and torture. Taking this issue alone, he doesn’t look much better than those he hunts. His family comes off as an excuse to release the savage inside; even his best friend is little more than cannon fodder, a cheap excuse for Kit to become even more angry and self-righteous in his violence. It reads like violence for the sake of violence with the most flimsy of excuses offered. It’s lazy short-hand that’s supposed to make it all okay, but doesn’t.
Eduardo Ferigato’s art doesn’t help matters, looking equally superficial and depthless. The computer coloring and effects manage to accentuate that effect with awkward transitions between Ferigato’s line work and attempts to show the invisible mercenaries. The result is something out of the ’90s and a lot less sophisticated than visual effects usually look right now. Not that Ferigato’s line work stands on its own that well either, delivering the most simplistic of compositions and unfinished, awkward-looking characters. How they can look so misshapen and incomplete, while still having that over-rendered appearance of a thousand unnecessary lines is beyond me.
“The Last Phantom” is a bad comic, so bad that one can’t help but hope that the title is also a promise.