DCClassics.Com Club IE
Phantom Stranger Review

I haven’t had time to gather up the review links of late (man, that’s gonna be one massive list…), but how about we toss a brief review into the Friday mix to make up for it? Today, I’ve got a quick look at Mattel’s version of Phantom Stranger, the February Club Infinite Earths figure.

I’ve mentioned it a million times I know, but some of the earliest things I remember reading as a kid were 70s JLA reprints. They’re still some of my favorite stories to this day and, as such, Phantom Stranger is pretty important character to me even if he’s not terribly well-known.

The original (dare I say “real”), pre-nU52 version of the Phantom Stranger is a great example of things DC had to let go to reformat their universe. Stranger originally appeared in the 1950s as a horror character, either disproving or combating supernatural threats. In the 70s & 80s, he was pulled from those origins into the mainstream of the DCU where he’d assist the Justice League or foster along a sequence of events in the large crossovers. And while he would play his part, who he was was always in question. Readers only knew that he was cursed to wander the Earth in penance of something. DC traded on his unknown origins, even publishing an issue of Secret Origins that featured four different possible origins for the Stranger. His mysteriousness, his lack of origin was what made the character interesting.

Sadly, all that was washed away by DC. One of the first things they set out to do in the new universe was given the Stranger an origin (he’s Judas Iscariot – hey, I didn’t say it was original) and more or less torpedo what made him cool or unique. I’ll be honest, I haven’t read the new solo title, but the changes made to the Stranger represent what I don’t much like about the relaunch. I’m just not interested in the new version, his definitive origin, and the need to replace his medallion with a necklace made from the thirty pieces of silver. Nuance has been replaced with “kewl!”.

But, hey none of that really applies to this figure right? This is the classic Phantom Stranger that I know and love. And I should be happy to finally have him in the line… but, much like the new 52 Stranger, he just doesn’t quite scratch the itch I need him to.

The figure is what any longtime DCUC collector would’ve come to expect. It’s the same suited body we’ve seen a couple times with a handful of new pieces to get the details right. In that regard, Mattel didn’t skimp here. We’ve got the new turtle neck upper torso, new hands, the cape, and the head. Also included is the medallion as a removable piece and all the chains are real metal. On paper, this figure looks like it should be awesome. Continue to Page 2…

33 thoughts on “DCClassics.Com Club IE
Phantom Stranger Review

  1. Books of Magic was my first Introduction into Comics all together, And The only silver age comics i collect are House of Mystery and the title you refrenced House of Secrets.The Stranger is without a doubt My favorite Charector. Ive got two, one loose to display, and one hidden awayin a closet still in its mailer. My seceret treasure! I think your coming down too hard on The New52 version tho, Didio has done a great job recreating the charector! Sure, Idealy He would still be a man with 4 possible backgrounds(something you neglected but should definitly have mentioned), But given the circumstances Its Quite a gem. I recomend It! You should try it out at least..

    1. I thought about shouting out the four options for his origin, but I was already droning on a bit too much about the character as it was…

      I admittedly haven’t read the new Stranger book, but I didn’t enjoy Didio’s Outsiders, Metal Men, or OMAC, so I’m gunshy to pick up any more of his stuff. Plus, I really, really can’t stand the Judas Iscariot thing. 🙂

      1. We’re only 5 or 6 issues into his New52 run. I definitely think yer not giving him a chance. I currently read the book and its not horrible (haha which isnt the greatest compliment). My hope is that since Didio is constantly gushing about how he’s a lifelong, die hard fan that he still realizes that much of the fun of the character IS his non origin. Hopefully his ego hasnt overtaken that idea and he’s not just wanting to be “The Man Who Finally Made an Origin for Phantom Stranger”. TO add to list of acomplishments. I’m holding out hope that if the book can survive past 10 issues that he’ll throw us a curveball and put the “difinitive origin” into question

        My biggest problem with the Phantom Stranger title….is what they’ve done with the Spectre!!

    2. LOL Almost forgot about the Trenchcoat Brigade!
      Who all was in that? Stranger, Constantine, Mr.E, and…Dr. Occult?
      Now I want to see JC and PS confront Snape or Moody about a certain young wizard! LOL

  2. I was thinking “he looks cool enough to track down” (damn you DR!! new card = PERMANANET change!!), but then you pose him next to Bruckner’s DCD and…”do I still have him? I hope so!”

    It is a decent use of mostly re-used pieces, as expected, but this is one drawback of the comparison pics: you see which one is better and the flaws stand out more, no matter which one it is. I do like the use of real chain for Matty’s version, tho.

    If anything else, they could re-use that head for a Silver Age Clark Kent with his trusty reporter’s fedora. oh wait, forgot, less classic, more nu52! so…lose the bling and cape, and “random DCU civilian for crowd shots”?

    Actually, this does make the second of DC’s nu52 (Un)Holy Trinity, after Question, which means Pandora shouldn’t be too far behind. Not sure if that’s good or bad?

      1. One thing that I actually DO appreciate about Pandora, is that she’s still a mystery. She’s had a few cameos here and there to build story but so far she’s piqued my interest. I’m sure once this Trinity War comes out she’ll be in our face and shoved down our throats till we wanna vomit. Who created her anyway?

          1. Alrighty then. Since Johns is pretty much running the show over there at DC…we’ll be seeing LOTS AND LOTS OF her!

  3. Huge Phantom Stranger fan here! I now have both figures and I gotta go with the Bruckner sculpt. It’s on my curio even as I write this along with the DC direct version of Uncle Sam and that same wave’s Phantom Lady.

    The head on the 4H sculpt reminds me more of DC Direct’s version of the Question: His hat is kinda small for the Stranger and that face looks more like Vic Sage’s old mask. Plus, the black and blue don’t mix well here in contrast with the Bruckner figure’s faithfulness to Jim Aparo’s classic Stranger of the 70’s and 80’s. The medallion is a nice accessory to have, though.

    So the Stranger is now Judas? I’ve also got that issue of Secret Origins and if I remember correctly, one of the four origins has to do with the Wandering Jew legend, who is named there after Isaac from the Book of Genesis. Guess the editors at DC want to stick with the religious angle for good.

    I wouldn’t mind a Trenchcoat Brigade now that two of the four are here, but Dr. Occult and Mr. E might prove even tougher sells.

    1. That was one of the best waves of DC Direct if you ask me!

      I’m definitely down for a Dr. Occult. That’d be a crazy thing to get!

  4. I don’t really think him losing his mysteriousness and becoming Judas makes him “kewl”‘ unless the bible is more popular with kids than I thought…

      1. I’ve always found it funny that now that society is more accepting of nerds and geeks, the stuff that we grew up with as kids has become an adult pastime. Like action figures and comics, which were originally made for kids, and now it’s a big boys game.

  5. Phantom Stranger is an essential character, so this is a huge one to check off the list of “must-haves.”. Solid figure, too. I mean, not really much to get wrong with a guy who just wears a suit and fedora.
    While we’re sharing our love for this guy in his comic appearances, does anyone else remember the Blue Devil Summer Fun issue where BD teams up with the Stranger, Man-Bat, The Creeper, Etrigan, Madame Xanadu, and Black Orchid? Stranger is presented in a much more humorous light in what has to be one of my top 10 favorite single issues ever. Go track it down in the quarter bins and experience just how much fun comic books can/should be.

  6. I’m not terribly upset at his lack or articulation. The Stranger isnt really known for his roundhouse kicks and rear naked choke. One figure that comes to mind where the shadow under the hat gimmick worked was on the “classified” Snake Eyes figure from the comic 3 pack. I also think the reason it works so well on him is because he’s a smaller figure. I think it works fairly well with the Stranger

    One thing i would have loved to see was some kind of accessory for his hand. Similar to the Dr. Fate finger attachment thingie. Perhaps something smokey or maybe a clear mystic energy effect. That would have been fun. Or maybe a billowing smokey stand like the old DCD Raven figure. Just a little bit to add to whats essentially another guy in a suit

  7. This one looks decent enough, but yeah, I totally agree with you on the parts that don’t make sense, like the hands, lack of articulation for the neck/head, which should not be an issue considering the amount of money you pay for these things in the first place and other stuff. The chains do look cool though, and adds a nice touch to the figure. After seeing the DCD version, I hear ya. I’d swap the hands, head, cape of the DCD with the DCUC version. And maybe the paint job as well. That should leave you with a better overall figure.

    As for the NU52 stuff,just ugh. I’ve long ranted and railed against the reboot as largely unnecessary, and still feel that way, but what’s the opinion of one longtime fan/reader right?;)

    I did love that pic you did with PS needing an Excedrin to read his own rebooted material. That’s such a perfect statement about the whole line really and the entire mess that’s going on right now with editorial on the comics end of DC.

    Awesome review as usual Noisy;)

  8. Thanks for the review, Noisy! I do believe I like him more than you did, but you’re right, he does seem to be a collection of parts rather than a unified figure. Not sure why. My biggest problem is the overly-long chain.

    However, I did find good use for his head and medallion to build the afore-mentioned Doctor Occult:

    1. Very nice! There’s no connection to Dr. Occult at all for me (not sure that I’ve ever read a single story with him) but I would be happy to get that in the sub (I’m even thinking of copying yours with my extra PS when he arrives).

  9. Alright, not sure if you can make that link visible, Noisy, but the point was that they now have all the pieces to do a Doc Occult without tooling– he’s just a fresh paint job. Stranger head, Question body, a hand each from Green Arrow and Doc Manhattan (fists don’t fit in the trenchcoat sleeve as is, so it’ll have to be open hands. Sorry, Noisy.)

  10. I’ve mixed feelings. Of the two Stranger figures, I prefer the Mattel… except for the chain. If I recall correctly, the chain never dangled below the lapel line. As it is, it’s just too long, and it’s hard to make it sit right. I really like the shaded face of the Mattel version. I think it’s the element the DC Direct version lacked.

    More to the point, I already owned a Phantom Stranger I was happy enough with. Ditto the Elongated Man. DC Direct already provided the versions I wanted of Fire, Ice, and Huntress. I don’t need a Wally West Flash, I’m not too attached to rainbow Lanters, and I never wanted that one-off version of the Red Hood. So basically, as far as I can tell, I’ve agreed to pay a ton of money for Monsieur Mallah and the Brain, and I’m getting the sense that Perez Zatanna and Changeling aren’t even on Mattel’s radar.

    1. It would probably be cheaper to buy the Infinite Heroes Titans set to get Brain, and then a gorilla of your choice (several DCD Grodd, among others) and add a beret and bullet bandolier. which reminds me: does Mallah even come with a gun, or just Brain?

  11. I’m not the world’s biggest Phantom Stranger fan (never really read too many stories with him, other than a few big events where he shows up in a generic “mysterious informative mystic” role), but doesn’t Phantom Stranger have white hair? I remember the hair being white, and even the DCD figure there seems to have white hair, while the Mattel version looks like it has black hair.

  12. @Rod Keith, Damn cool Dr. Occult custom there man! He really looks well done from the paint job on down to the disk he’s holding. It looks like he’s stepping straight out o the 1930’s. Very cool, and this no doubt proves Mattel could’ve just as easily made this figure as well.

  13. I think the only problem with the figure for me was the black suit he’s wearing. DC Direct got it better with the suit matching the cape. I still prefer Matty’s articulation though.

    Rod Keith, great job on he Doctor Occult figure.

  14. My main complaint is the face. I am not a fan of the shading they added. I also don’t like that the medallion isn’t attached to the cape, but that can be easily fixed with some pliers.

Comments are closed.