When it comes to current continuity comic strips it sometimes becomes difficult to keep track of the plot and story development. That is where Joseph Nebus’ What’s Going On In… series becomes a valuable resource. When the Prince Valiant plot takes a detour (not unusual) or The Phantom adventure goes on for months and months (again, not unusual) or we get distracted from the more soap opera-ish strips (more common than we like to admit), Joseph can bring us up-to-date with a quarterly recap that includes a few witty observations.
But what’s invaluable is when current The Phantom author Tony DePaul writes about what he writes about. With the Return to the Temple of the Gods story winding down after 60+ weekly installments that’s what he has done:
The Sunday strip, as you may know, is generally where we pay homage to the fantasy tradition Lee Falk established in the Phantom universe. It’s never been a hard-and-fast rule, but for tales that require an extraordinary suspension of disbelief, we tend to spread out and tell them in the (comparatively) wide open spaces of Sunday art.
On the current Sunday yarn, Return to the Temple of the Gods, Jeff Weigel was working from a 126-page script, 423 panels.
In this story, the Phantom follows a trail to a woman who’s been unjustly discredited, driven from her profession, and now this mystery figure she’s seen in her mind’s eye turns out to be real. She hasn’t been haunted by fantastic dreams with no basis in reality. She never needed to hire herself out to a man who would take credit for her discoveries.
Tony gives us a lengthy look into this story’s background, both as The Phantom history and as author’s intentions.
An aside on how this story came to be: In 2005, I inserted a few panels into the original Chamber of the Gods to give me a leg to stand on if I ever wanted to write again about Mina Braun. I was fairly certain I would.
Yes, this story had its beginnings nearly 20 years ago!