In Review: The Phantom 1767 – Predator’s Road (Frew Comics)
Story: Claes Reimerthi
Art: Heiner Bade
First Publication: Egmont, Scandinavia, 5/2016
English Publisher: Frew Comics (Australia)
Cover Artist: Glenn Ford (Australia)
Editor: Dudley Hogarth
Price: 3.5 Aus $
Release Date (Print): 31st October 2016
Age Rating: All Ages
The Comic: The back story of one of Phantom’s arch rivals, General Bababu – a man who is haunted by his childhood, overflowing with bitterness and resentment. Living a life without any gratitude or appreciation for the support that he has received in the past. Certainly he was bullied as a boy, and lost his mother, who was his sole parent at a very early age.
But, is that really a justification for the extreme and violent nature that he has adopted as an adult?
The Review: Until the Python replaced him, General Bababu was the top villain in the Phantom universe. Lee Falk, along with the maestro Sy Barry, painted a scary picture of the General in so many Phantom stories.
For those who came in late, General Bababu wanted to become the ruler of Bengali. But for the Phantom, he almost succeeded and, after that initial failure, he always wanted to get back in power and used many a crooked way to try to achieve that. Every time, he had to face the Man Who Cannot Die – The Phantom. However, we never knew why and how General Bababu became the monster that he is. There had to be a story behind that transformation, and Predator’s Road is it.
The premise of this story isn’t unusual in comics. Some years ago, for example, when Jean Van Hamme completed his run on the French BD album XIII, the publishers wanted to extend the universe with further albums. However, Van Hamme was done with the character and the publishers couldn’t push him for the continuation. So instead they chose six characters from the XIII Series and launched an individual album for each of them, telling their back stories. One of these was the origin of XIII’s arch rival, the professional killer, Mongoose. After reading his story, most of the readers started to look him at him with a different perspective.
Here in the Phantom Universe, there are some characters about whom we do not know much, and one of them was General Bababu. In “Predator’s Road”, Claes Reimerthi tries to justify the angst of the kid who was always bullied while growing up. If being without a father is a burden, losing your single parent in childhood can be termed as a curse. And this is the curse General Bababu is going through.
Though this is, sort of, a flashback story focused on General Bababu, Phantom makes several appearances – and every time he comes, a certain heroic presence is felt. One such scene is when Bababu’s army tries to burn down a village; the resulting encounter with the Phantom and the scenes following that are sheer romance to go through.
Artist Heiner Bade plays his part and makes this comic a jolly good read with his plain, simple artistic style.
After reading “Predator’s Road”. You can’t help but think Bababu could benefit enormously from a quiet time on the couch, with a good clinical psychiatrist working through a few mother-related issues. In the absence of such therapy, he may just have to continue to make do with a little of the Phantom’s behavioral corrective guidance… Yes, a fist in the face leaving the mark of the Ghost who walks.
Verdict: Read, 4 Bullets (4/6)
King Viswa – TCU Syndicate