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Phantom (III). The Phantom (III) was created by Lee Falk (Mandrake) and appeared in the comic strip “The Phantom” (1936-present); he has also appeared in books, comic books, radio shows, tv shows, and movies. “The Phantom” is one of the most influential of all comic strips.

The Phantom (III) is a Costumed Avenger. He is "the ghost-who-walks," the latest in a long line of warriors for truth and justice. Originally the Phantom’s name was Christopher Standish, a British citizen whose headquarters were in India, but in the 1940s he was remade into Kit Walker, an American whose headquarters were in the remote African jungle nation of Bangalla. The tradition of the Phantom began in the sixteenth century when Captain Kit Walker is killed in a pirate raid. His son Kit is the only survivor of the raid and washes ashore on Bangalla, where he is rescued by a group of Bandar pygmies. Walker swears an oath on the skull of the pirate who had killed his father that he and his descendants will fight pirates and evil men around the world. Ever since then the men and women of the Walker family have put on the costume of the Phantom and struck fear into the hearts of wrongdoers.

The current Phantom, Kit Walker, is the twenty-second Walker to bear the name. He operates from a skull-shaped cave deep in the jungles of Bangalla and is assisted by the Jungle Patrol, a group of Indigenous Africans who help enforce the peace. Walker is also helped by Guran, the leader of the Bandar pygmies, by Walker’s gray wolf Devil, and by his wife, the explorer Diana Palmer.

* I'm including "The Phantom" in the Best of the Encyclopedia list because the strip is fun to read and because the Phantom himself is archetypal. Lee Falk is an underrated comic strip writer/artist, as can be seen in the "Mandrake the Magician" (see Mandrake) strip and to a lesser extent in "The Phantom." "The Phantom" has some surprisingly effective, even powerful, moments and scenes, and the Phantom himself is of course a very memorable archetypal hero. Generally "The Phantom" is a fun read, if not on the same level as the greats of the Golden Age. But the portrayal of the Bandar is likely to sit poorly with modern readers, which negates much of the strip's fun. All that being said, though, there's something primal and deeply effective about a masked hero with a skull ring who leaves imprints of the ring on the faces of the men he punches, and who prowls Africa as a legacy hero and member of a crime-fighting organization. 

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