by Rolf Gohs
- The Secret of the Falls
- Script: Roger Stern
- Art: Dick Giordano
- First published in Fantomen Nr.13/2004 by Egmont, Scandinavia. Original cover shown on the left, thanks to Brian Jensen.
- Message from the Publisher:
Another new story with an almost endless list of twists!
The Secret of the Falls, written by Roger Stern and illustrated by Dick Giordano, poses one major and highly intriguing question. The waterfall, which shields the secret entrance to the Skull Cave, is as well known to Phantom enthusiasts as it is to The Ghost Who Walks. Yet Roger Stern suggests in this story that The Phantom knows nothing about the land which lies above the falls! Before too many of you scoff at that suggestion, can anybody remember a Phantom adventure set in that part of the Deep Woods? I, for one, cannot. Roger Stern has stumbled on an intriguing part of Phantom history! From Lee Falk onwards, no Phantom story creator has ever placed our hero above the falls! Have we ever heard The Ghost Who Walks talk about that terrain - let alone go above the falls for a look-see? The answer is an emphatic - NO! Considering the travelling and exploration The Phantom has undertaken in his unique part of the [comics] world, it is almost unbelievable. That was the first thing to strike me about The Secret of the Falls!
[Comment from Guran: Jim has forgotten about the 1965 Sunday story The Weird Webs of Spidera, in which an amphibious plane crashed over the falls outside the Deep Woods. The Phantom saved the pilot from the plane and then followed the river about 100 miles upstream to investigate the mysterious Spidera tribe.
The second was the fascinating villain, Will Fletcher, in the story. The way in which Dick Giordano has drawn him made me think of a number of characters from the Flash Gordon comic strip. Most of all, of course, the dreaded Ming the Merciless! Remember him? He of the pointed skull, oriental eyes, fiendish look and drooping moustache? Will Fletcher - Ming the Merciless? Of course - near identical twins! Which is hardly surprising. Dick Giordano (born 20 July 1932) began his comics career in 1951 and in a 17 year relationship with the old American publishing company, Charlton, worked on a huge range of titles which included western, war, crime, horror and science fiction. Later, he moved to National, Dell, Archie, Lev Gleason and Marvel and along the way, rubbed shoulders with the science fiction masters, including Flash Gordon stalwarts, Dan Barry, Sy Barry and AI Williamson among many others. So, it is natural that some of their magic rubbed off onto Dick and it seems he was captivated by the evilness of Ming the Merciless, one of the scariest characters to strut the comic pages in the history of the industry.
I think you will enjoy The Secret of the Falls. It is, after all, a clever twist on known Phantom history which does not stray too far from the Skull Cave. It made me wonder whether there could possibly be more secrets hidden behind the furthest reaches of the Skull Cave! The cave, after all, is vast, yet none of us devoted fans know much more about it other than the general layout of the entrance, the Skull Room, the two treasure rooms, the residential areas and the space devoted to the tombs of the previous 20 Phantoms! Full marks to Dick Giordano for his inspired art and also to Roger Stern for working up a most unique plot! Plaudits also to Antonio Lemos for his cover art for this issue.
Our next edition goes on sale on 2 July, also with Antonio Lemos covers. It will showcase another new adventure brilliantly illustrated by Hans Lindahl.
This is one of the classic jungle adventures which helped expand the world-wide popularity of The Phantom. I guarantee you non-stop action, intrigue, spectacular jungle scenes and The Phantom in majestic form as he helps the natives solve some major problems!