Precinct1313’s Top Ten Favourite Comic-Book Covers Of All Time: No.07 – The Phantom #1 – Dave Gibbons
“I swear to devote my life to the destruction of all forms of piracy, greed, cruelty and injustice, and my sons and their sons shall follow me!”
And with that astonishing axiom… The Phantom was born! Welcome back, fellow fans of fantastic fiction, to the continuing countdown of our absolute favourite comic-book covers of all time. In our last entertaining episode we shared the work of the Bat-tastic and inimitable Norm Breyfogle, and his resplendent representation of the Dark Knight on the cover of Batman #465. This time we’ll be exploring the infamous Skull Cave, deep in the heart of the jungles of Bangalla, as we celebrate Dave Gibbons’ ‘phantastic’ Phantom #1 cover which first released in May 1988.
The Phantom was created by Lee falk in 1936, which makes his dynamic debut an incredible eighty five years ago… cementing him as the world’s original Superhero, a full two years before Superman first soared across the skies! Falk was an American writer and artist who had previously created the character, Mandrake the Magician in 1934, before going on to create The Phantom a mere two years later.
Lee Falk was born in St Louis, Missouri in 1911 and spent much of his youth there, he was a gifted writer and pitched his idea for Mandrake to King Features Syndicate. Falk was a huge fan of stage magicians, and actually based the look of Mandrake on on himself. The Phantom sprang from Falk’s unfailing love of myths and legends, such as King Arthur, plus popular fictional creations including two of his favourites, Tarzan and Robin Hood. (P1313 fun facts: Bill Finger, co-creator of Batman was a huge Phantom fan and used ideas such as the Phantom’s Skull Cave and loyal retainer – Guran, as inspiration for the Batcave and faithful father figure, Alfred!)
Kit Walker is The Phantom, 21st in a lineage of costumed crimefighters that first began in 1536 when the father of British sailor Christopher Walker was killed by the Singh Brotherhood. Swearing an oath on the skull of his father’s murderer he became the first Phantom, beginning a legacy that would pass on from father to son for generations. The outside world though believed it was the same man, an immortal, a Ghost Who Walks, fighting injustice, piracy and greed from his secret Skull Cave, in the jungles of Bangalla. Fighting alongside his pet wolf – Devil, and his trusty steed – Ghost, the Man Who Cannot Die, instils fear in the corrupt, and hope to the innocent, in his never ending pursuit of the evil that men do!