Writer Brian Clevinger opens “King: The Phantom” #1 with a funeral pyre for the fallen Phantom in front of Skull Cave, which is as good a place as any for his artistic collaborator Brent Schoonover to introduce readers to the shadowy mysteries ahead alongside Robt Snyder’s colors and Simon Bowland’s carefully appointed letters.
The story itself follows Lothar Kehwabe’s quest to find the twenty-third Phantom. In the interim, he dons the purple costume and the skull ring and rides a horse into Clevinger’s story. Clevinger keeps the story moving, adding players to the board as the plot continues to open up. Lothar makes an intriguing choice for the Phantom and a compelling lead character while his aide, Guran, plays the part of his Alfred, guiding him through battle and helping him before and after. Not only does “King: The Phantom” #1 introduce readers to the new Phantom, it also introduces readers to Bangalla and the troubles there. Clevinger gives readers everything they could want in a Phantom story, including opportunities for Brent Schoonover to draw much from the Phantom’s legend.
Schoonover does a fine job of drawing the Skull Ring imprinting an unwitting (and certainly deserving) face as Lothar delivers a right cross. The artist also adds subtle details like the skull print on the scarf Harris wears in public, the variety of labels behind the bar and the grips on the Phantom’s pistols. He also makes some stylistic choices, like Kirby in the brazier burning in Skull Cave and varied camera angles throughout the adventure.
Schoonover has some rough spots of inconsistency in this comic, like the Phantom’s horse or the alligator-headed Beast-Man. He covers those shortcomings nicely with crisp, straightforward storytelling, which gets a nice boost from the Robt Snyder’s colors. Snyder mixes texture into his color work, giving “King: The Phantom” #1 a gritty, roughed up appearance fit for the adventure within.
Bowland adapts his lettering selections nicely with caption boxes at a uniform size throughout the tale, despite their variance in tenor and owner. The Phantom’s boxes are stark white with a script font while reporter Jen Harris’ captions are light blue with a clean, crisp sans serif font, apportioned with bold words to add emphasis throughout the story.
The second title launched for the King Features Syndicate one-hundredth anniversary celebration, “King: The Phantom” #1 includes bits from Dynamite Entertainment’s “King’s Watch” while providing readers with a grand new starting spot to join the adventures of one of the oldest masked heroes.