(cross posted from another board but hey, I was a bit annoyed...)
Not been around here much -- been busy -- but picking up the last Moonstone issue at my Freindly Local Comic Shop and finally getting around to reading it this morning made me remember the Dynamite issue and figured I would put my two cents in as someone who may not have been a dyed in the (purple) wool Phantom Phan but who knew quite a bit about the character and liked it and who also used to do comic book reviews on the web.
As to Dynamite's first offering? Close and yet so far away.
There were things I liked -- I rather liked the idea that that one of the Walker clan might marry an African woman. Though, I was't sure if this was supposed to be a new take on Diana Palmer (the traditional love of the Phantom) or someone new -- the wife of the son of the 'current' Phantom perhaps? Turns out it was a moot point anyway (more on that later)
I liked the idea that Walker would set up a foundation and would use the family wealth to try to improve lives in Africa -- I could really see that.
I don't thing the whole 'wearing a loincloth and covered in... something... will be the final Phantom "costume" and in some ways I don't blame Alex Ross for wanting to tweak it and I was quite open to a new costume to reflect a new time period.
But the rest? The rest just had me shaking my head.
I mean, I just couldn't see ANY incarnation of the Phantom completely giving up the adventurer action to become nothing but a corporate suit -- and that is what is implied here. That the Phantom has given up the two-fisted action and gotten soft.
And then there was the stuff with the family which I could see what was coming a mile away. I really wished it had turned out to be a swerve of some sort but nope, they went straight for the trope of the 'slaughtered wife and kids'.
As a woman and as the Awesome Auntie to a beloved nephew I'm am SO sick and tired of the 'let's kill the wife and kids and give the hero tragedy!' trope I could scream. To add insult to injury here we have a black woman who also obviously had the chance to be a really cool character -- she's smart, she has a career, she's respected -- this was a chance for Dynamite to add another really solid black female character to the annals of comic books, someone for women to identify with and for younger girls to look up to -- something that is all too few -- and then they just slaughter her within pages. Way to go guys! We women know we're in the minority of reading traditional superhero comic books but there's just nothing like it when you remind us how little we matter by getting rid of the ONE female character here in the first issue. And when you seem to see the character of the wife as little more than a plot device whose death is used to spur the hero into action. Bleh.
And this is another thing that shows me that they don't really GET what makes the Phantom unique. He doesn't do what he does because of tragedy -- not really anymore. Sure, the legacy was born in a tragedy but that death was centuries ago. The Phantom today is upholding a legacy, a legacy that has done good, a legacy of honor, and commitment, a legacy that is about justice and compassion and protection and help not revenge. But nope, Dynamite just turned it into another revenge deal.
All too often today heroes are more in the Batman mold rather than Superman. Both are good heroes, don't get me wrong, but Batman does what he does because he was scarred by tragedy, Superman does what he does simply because it's the right thing. The Phantom was in the Superman mode -- he does what he does because it's the right thing. Now they've moved him into the Batman mode -- and Batman mode is a dime a dozen, the Superman mode is growing fewer and fewer.
And then there was the whole 'Walkabout' stuff and "Long Walk' and while I thought this was kind of clever it also ended up confusing me because I thought "Walkabout" was an Australian Aboriginal tradition... NOT an African one. And when I hear "Long Walk" I automatically think about the "Long Walk" -- when the Navajo tribes were forced off reservation lands by the American government and forced to walk to new reservation lands. But hey, that's just me and I've got a degree in history.
So there it is, my long, rambling, slightly ranty opinion on "The Last Phantom". It's for sure I'm not going to pick up any more of this title from Dynamite. There is other stuff Dynamite does better.