September has been DC’s “zero month” as every title has been numbered #0, giving them a chance to flush out the origins of their characters in the New 52, as well as launch some new books. Their publisher Dan Didio gets to flex his writing muscles out on the new Phantom Stranger series.
It picks up with the DC Free Comic Book Day special, with the back story to the man who becomes the Phantom Stranger being punished by what seemed to be a mystical council.
So who is the man condemned to an eternity of wandering around? It’s Judas.
Yup that Judas.
Forced to wear Jesus’ cloak and a necklace made of the very coins he was given for his act of betrayal, Judas is now forced to wander the earth until he is able to make amends for what he has done. So this phantom stranger has been wandering around for nearly 2000 years.
Trying to make up for his past, Phantom Stranger attempts to help a detective-gone-rogue named Jim Corrigan rescue his girlfriend, who has been kidnapped by some mafia types. Unfortunately, Corrigan picked the wrong person to team up with and gets killed, getting turned into God’s force of wrath–the Spectre. So Judas is forced to keep wandering until he can redeem himself. Unfortunately for him, he’s doomed to betray everyone he encounters.
As a one-shot that establishes the new version of both Phantom Stranger and the Spectre, this book definitely succeeds. But as an ongoing, I really don’t have much interest in this. It kind of reminds me of a super hero version of My Name Is Earl but with religious overtones as Judas wanders the world trying to make things right but failing every time.