by Rolf Gohs
- Son of the Pirate Queen Pt.1: The Skull Necklace
- Script: David Bishop
- Art: César Spadari
- First published in Fantomen Nr.13/2005 by Egmont, Scandinavia. Original cover shown on the left, thanks to Ulf Granberg.
- Message from the Publisher:
Presenting The Skull Necklace, part one of a new series entitled Son of the Pirate Queen. In this adventure, we catch up again with Chris, son of Kate Somerset (aka The Pirate Queen) and a previous Phantom. Chris, who had decided to pursue a "career" as a pirate himself, witnessed the death of his father and after being tortured by the leader of the Singh, was left paralyzed. The Phantom he meets up with in this new story is, of course, his half-brother!
The Singh Pirates do not figure in this story. Instead, we step back in time and re-visit the dreaded Thuggee gang. Lee Falk featured the Thuggees in some of his fairly early stories, the best remembered is The Thuggees, which appeared simultaneously as a daily & Sunday adventure in 1949-50. (look up Frew #982 for the Sunday version and #1234 for the daily version). Wilson McCoy illustrated the original story and it is fascinating to compare his techniques with Spadari. McCoy portrayed the Thuggees as a bunch of raggedy B-grade villains. Lee Falk was clearly fascinated by the Thuggees but wrote about them in such a way that the artists of his time could not even attempt to "glamorise" them! Lee wanted these killers to be portrayed as pathetic street thugs who could be easily handled by The Phantom. In this new adventure, they are portrayed for what they were - a closely-knit, small army of highly trained assassins obsessed with the weird ideals of their ferocious cult.
Who were the Thuggees? For Those Who Just Came In, it might come as a surprise to learn that this gang of fanatics actually once existed in India. Their killing trademark was strangulation using a noose made of thick cord and often, for more gory effect, sharp wire! Robbery was the usual motive for their killings, but it is also a fact that they worshipped a mysterious goddess named Kali and part of their ritual demanded regular killings in her honour. So many Government officials, businessmen and overseas visitors to India died at the hands of the Thuggees that the British Government, which then ruled India, was forced to stamp out the cult. It was a brutal and drawn-out campaign, but in the circumstances, completely unavoidable. The Government finally succeeded in 1831 - at the cost of many lives on both sides of the law! Amazingly, Thuggee diehards are still believed to exist in India! Everything these days is underground, but the power of Kali continues. The modern Indian Government understandably maintains a close watch on their activities.
David Bishop wrote the script for this new story and artwork is by the always dramatic Cesar Spadari.
In our next edition we will bring you four stories in a bumper 100-page issue. Heading the list is the still fresh American daily, Stripes and we will back up this new adventure with a range of wonderful Lee Falk golden oldies, including the ever-popular King of Beasts which has been out of print for many years. The story is credited to artist Ray Moore, but you will pick a lot of Wilson McCoy's work! The story originally appeared way back in 1946, not long after Moore was discharged from the American Armed Forces. He had been injured in the war and had to rely on McCoy's help. Moore was only able to work on The Phantom dailies until near the end of 1946 and had to call it quits on the Sundays late in 1948, at which time Wilson McCoy took over the art for both strips.