In Review: The Phantom 1766 – The Art Collector (Frew Comics)

The Phantom 1766 (19th October 2016) - Frew Comics

Story: Donne Avenell (UK)
Art: Jaime Vallve (Spain)
Publisher: Frew Comics (Australia)
Editor: Dudley Hogarth
Pages: 36
Price: 3.5 Aus $
Release Date (Print): 19th October 2016
Age Rating: All Ages

One Line: An Art collector on a collection spree, albeit illegally, is stopped by Phantom.

Synopsis: The Phantom reads in a news paper that the billionaire Jason Parnossos has discovered Cleopatra’s tomb and along with it, the mummified remains of the snake that killed her. He takes great interest in that article, since he already happens to have the remains of the snake in his treasure room. Travelling to Egypt to investigate Parnossos’ claims, it’s there the story takes off, as the Phantom must overcome numerous obstacles to eventually unearth the truth about the multi millionaire and his priceless collection.

The Phantom 1766 Title Page

The Review: For those who came in late, The Phantom has a huge treasure room in his skull cave which accommodates many a incredible treasures, ranging from King Solomon’s chalice to King Arthur’s sword. This particular story is about another such person who collects them, though, not always legally. This particular story, published by FREW Comics, is one such globetrotting adventure. By the end of the story, we’ve travelled all the way from Bengalla to Egypt and from there to Cairo, London, and Naples and then, finally, to Phantom’s home again in Bengalla.

Originally published in 1978 in Sweden, this story is actually the debut for a long recurring villain of Phantom stories, the Art Collector AKA Jason Parnossos. After reading it, you’d be forgiven for wondering just why this story is getting published for the first time in English. Still, it is always better late (38 years!) than never. For this, we have to thank the entire new team at FREW Crew, starting with the redoubtable publisher Dudley Hogarth and directors Rene White and Glenn Ford.

Of late, the Phantom stories published by FREW are getting better with each issue. The previous issue (“The Llongo’s Amulet”) was good, and so is this. One major criticism many fans of the Phantom level at series published by Team Fantomen for the Swedish comic is that he often over-powers villains easily, his impeccable heroism never in doubt. The very recent US mini-series, published by Hermes Press, was similar in tone. This can’t be said of the the last few FREW Comics. I hope that Dudley Hogarth and his team continue to choose such stories.

The reason for seeing a more fallible hero could also be the creative team behind the story. British author Donne Avenell, who wrote many stories for Fleetway including episodes of Adam Eterno and Karl the Viking, episodes of the Axa newspaper strip and Powerman, a Nigerian superhero comic, with Norman Worker, drawn by Dave Gibbons and Brian Bolland.

Avenell, who worked for the Swedish publisher Semic from 1977 until his death in 1996, writing The Phantom, The Saint, Buffalo Bill and Tumac, always portrayed the Phantom in his true colours, the way the many prefer to see him – as a true hero.

Assisting Donne Avenell in the mission is the brilliant craftsman from Barcelona, the man who had a 25-year long running love affair with the Phantom, the late Jaime Vallve. He drew for 116 such Phantom adventures and I hope that Frew will publish many such lovely pieces of work in the future.

If you want to confirmation of his skill, just have a look at this two-page sequential, in which Jason’s men steal the Eros statue from the Piccadilly Circus.


The Phantom 1766 - Eros Statue

Almost all the panels are drawn from different POV’s and his compositions, ranging from extreme close up to mid shot and long shot, are a treat to the connoisseurs’ eye.

Not to be missed are the sequences involving Phantom where he escapes from a trap inside the pyramid and the climax part where he climbs up to a villa on a rocky islet.

Verdict: Read, 4 Bullets (4/6).

King Viswa – TCU Syndicate

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