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‘For Those Who Came In Late…’ 85 Years Of The Phantom

“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”

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Wonder Woman and Batman have been the cornerstones of Precinct1313 since this website sprang into existence over six years ago. They are as vital to this blog as oxygen is to a drowning man… though, there is another masked man who didn’t originate from the same wellspring as Bruce and Diana, and yet is almost as popular as the titanic two. In fact, it was the ‘Guardian of the Eastern Dark’ that held the starring role in our very first ever blog post here in the hallowed halls of Precinct1313.

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February 17, 2021 marks the astonishing 85th anniversary of Lee Falk’s ground-breaking character – The Phantom. Phantom was the first of what later became a barrage of Superheroes, preceding DC’s Superman by a full two years, and the character was also crucial in the development of The Batman, with the Dark Knight’s co-creator – Bill Finger, citing The Phantom as a major influence on the Caped Crusader’s creation.

It was ‘The Ghost Who Walks’ who originally donned a colourful costume and domino mask and fought an eternal and ceaseless war on crime, injustice, and evil men with just his quick wits, martial skills and a courageous wolf companion named Devil. The Phantom truly is ‘He Who Came First’ in the mega popular world of the Superhero, the template for all the costume clad heroes who arose in his stead.

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The Phantom was created by Lee Falk in 1936, and made his auspicious debut almost to this very day (I meant to get this posted yesterday, Phantom’s actual birthday, unfortunately the internet gods shouted “Nay!”) in a newspaper serial strip. Falk was an american writer and artist who had previously created the majestic mage – Mandrake the Magician, in 1934 before going on to usher into existence The Phantom a mere two years later. Lee Falk was born in Missouri in 1911, and spent the majority 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 illusionists, and actually based the look of Mandrake on his very own visage. The Phantom sprang from Falk’s love of myths and legends such as King Arthur, and popular fictional creations Tarzan and Robin Hood.

Kit Walker is The Phantom, 21st in a lineage of costumed crime-fighters that first began in 1536, when the father of British sailor Christopher Walker was killed by the treacherous pirate clan – The Singh Brotherhood. Swearing an oath on the skull of his father’s now slain 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 to be the same man, an immortal, a Ghost Who Walks, fighting injustice from his secret Skull Cave deep in the heart of the Bangalla jungle. Fighting alongside his wolf Devil, and white steed Ghost, the Man Who Cannot Die instils fear into the corrupt and hope amongst the innocent, in his never ending pursuit against the evil that men do.

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The Ghost Still Walks… Happy 85th Kit Walker!

 

The Phantom is copyright – King Features Syndicate.