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October 22, 2017

Character Spotlight: Phantom Stranger

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Written by: Dr. Bustos
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A mystery wrapped in an enigma that wears a blue trench coat. He puts the strange in stranger, the Phantom Stranger wanders the Earth and beyond. When the world is at its strangest, the Phantom Stranger is probably nearby. Who is the Phantom Stranger? More importantly, what is the Phantom Stranger? Well, there’s a lot of answers and we’re not quite sure which, if any, are real. Still, let’s dig in to find out!

Many legends of who the Phantom Stranger is exist, the only person who may know the truth is the man himself, but maybe not even then. Many of the origins seem to be tied to Christian lore and biblical times but again, no one is sure what is real since many faiths are true in the DC universe/multiverse. Some claim he is a fallen angel forced to wander since he did not pick a side when Lucifer waged war against God. His punishment was to never be able to find a home and forced to wander for all eternity. Others think he was man who lost his family to King Herod’s army when they sought out to kill a young Jesus. Loathing the existence of Jesus, he’d hunt him down to when Jesus was being tortured and was able to get to do some of the torture himself. His punishment, dealt out by Jesus, was that he’d never have a home to go back to and wander the Earth until the end of days. As years gave way, his anger left him and he began a life of helping others as best he could with what time he had. Some think he was a remnant of the universe prior to this one, that when it was about to end, a scientist survived as the lone entity from the dead universe. One tale is that the Phantom Stranger was spared the wrath of God by one of his angels but was so traumatized he killed himself anyway. The angel was furious and made sure he could not go on to die and instead was resurrected to never die again.

No matter the origin, the Phantom Stranger often shows up when the paranormal is stirring. He may show up to debunk a of charlatan or fighting magical threats. He would be one of he guides to the young mage, Tim Hunter, and show him the occult workings of reality along with fellow magical residents of the DC universe. He would often come to blows with the Spectre, the embodiment of God’s wrath, if only to stop him from overstepping his bounds as righteous fury. Being able to go toe-to-toe with God’s wrath shows just how powerful the Phantom Stranger can be, if necessary. The two often fight when the Spectre goes wild, its human host having lost control, the Phantom Stranger will bring together all manner of hero, mystic or otherwise. He will often appear to heroes in their time of need with no real explanation and frequently unnerving anyone he tries to help. Though he gives off a creepy vibe, perhaps a part of an ancient curse, he does help those he appears to.

In the New 52, the Phantom Stranger was once called Judas Iscariot, former disciple of Jesus Christ, whom he had betrayed for 30 silver pieces. The guilt overwhelmed him and he killed himself but was taken to neither heaven or hell, but instead stood next to two others in front of a court of wizards. He was deemed to be one of the three greatest sinners on Earth and was to be punished for his crimes. He’d awaken, alive once more, with Jesus’ robe next to him. A disembodied voice told him to wear the robe and he took on the form of the Phantom Stranger and forced to walk the Earth until the voice gave himĀ  instructions on what to do next.

There you have it! The Phantom Stranger is one of the most mysterious beings in the DC universe, many origins, none may be true. In the end, though, he’s here to try and help the world, strange as he may do it. He has not appeared in many small screen appearances but a few and never made it to live-action. Perhaps some day he will but for now he can be seen animated every now and then. See you next time!

Suggested Reading
Phantom Stranger
Kingdom Come
Books of Magic
Trinity of Sin: The Phantom Stranger: Futures End

Dr. Bustos



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