Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Saturday, April 18, 2020


The Phantom Ranger was an Australian comic book that ran for 208 or 209 issues [accounts vary] from 1949 until 1973.  The issues from 1969 to 1973 were published by Page Publications of New South Wales and may have been reprints; previous issues were published by Frew Publications of Sydney.  The comic was created by Jeff Wilkinson, who wrote and illustrated the first 19 issues; subsequent issues up to the early Sixties were written and drawn by Peter Chapman.

Issue #2 linked below is a British reprint from World Distributors of Manchester, England.  and reprints issue #126 from the Australian run; the story was also reprinted in issue #180.

So who is The Phantom Ranger?  From what I can glean from reading this one issue, he's kinda a Lone Ranger rip-off.  He wears a mask.  No one seems to know his identity.  His horse is name Silver Ghost. He has learned a lot of tricks from the Navajo.  Taking the role of the Lone Ranger's young nephew Dan Reid is young Rex Barton, the Phantom Ranger's "junior deputy."  I don't know if he has a "Tonto," but the cover of this issue shows the Phantom Ranger palling around with someone obviously Mexican -- perhaps a Pancho character from The Cisco Kid?  No matter, he doesn't show up in this issue at all.

Like the Lone Ranger, the Phantom Ranger is steeped in mystery, although his legend is somewhat more fantastic:

"Throughout the American West, the exploits of the Phantom Ranger have become legend, handed down from father to son.  For over 200 years the Phantom Ranger has fought for peace and justice, both on the side of the Indian and the whiteman.....Many men deny his existence...They ask how can any man live for over 200 years?  But the is the Phantom Ranger's secret which he reveals only to a chosen few....."

Hmm.  At a guess, this could also be a rip-off of Lee Falk's The Phantom, a generational hero passing down his secret identity from father to son.  Since this is the only issue I read, this is purely guesswork.  There.  I've repeated myself twice in one paragraph!

This issue's story, "The Ghost of Willow Creek," features someone wrapped in a sheet like a Halloween ghost who apparently frightens people to death.  First, the owner of the general store, then the town undertaker, and finally the town soak.  Behind it all is a tale of murder, greed, and revenge that only the Phantom Ranger can unravel.


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