Saturday, October 10, 2009

TPH #068: The Albees (Phantom daily strip D-194)

Today I am going to talk about another Phantom daily strip coming from Mr Lee Falk's own pen. While reading this story one thing which kept coming to my mind, and confirmed my believe, is that the magic of Falk was certainly on a decline during his last phase. He only appears as a shadow of himelf in the stories he created during the 90s. The special Falkian flavour which kept the readers glued to his creations for so long (almost 5 decades) is completely missing. It seems he was finding it difficult to cultivate new ideas and to develop them in some interesting manner, once Sy Barry bid a farewell to the illustration job. That's why we often get to see either the repetition of past events or long references to them. It's tolerable or even good upto some extent but when it overshadows the main storyline the things start to turn boring.


Phantom is on his annual tour of the vast forest land. He passes through many familiar sites before coming to meet the rope people, the residents of high rise trees. Here he comes to know about the concerns of jungle people regarding a new and somewhat unfamiliar race of Albees, residents at the edge of the jungle, living behind a high fortress. The Albees are preparing for a war against other jungle tribes, is the suspicion that is spreading throughout the jungle. All the tribes are living in a continuos state of tension which can lead to any disaster at any moment. Albees are known to prepare good spears and are masterful in creating other war equipments. They like to spend all their time behind the walls of their fortress and do not like to mix-up with others. That makes the other tribes all the more suspicious about their intentions and they are preparing to rage a war against them.

And here something strange occurs in the story. A tribal warrior actually comes closer to Phantom and does something unimaginable. He almost warns phantom not to indulge in their affairs. The tone of his threatening voice together with daring looks might surprise many a readers. An absolute shocker. But Phantom listens to him quietly because situation here is getting out of control. War preparations are in full swing. Some good intelligence and hard effort is required on Phantom's part to avoid the danger of war which is looming in front of the jungle peace. Children of the both warring fractions are his only hope and he is not disappointed on this front. The crisis is over.

My say:

As I mentioned earlier, the story references so often the past events that begins to bore the readers and he starts believing that the writer is trying to hide the emptiness of a dull storyline behind the old familiar events in order to arouse the nostalgic feelings in the reader. I don't remember any other story where so many past events are referenced in the same story. You may wish to count. Lets start here:

The story begins with those familiar images and dialogues which tells that new modern cities are developing on the verge of the forest (1) Then the Wambesi and Llongo tribes get another mention (2). Here come the rope people residing over the tall trees and the giants living in the in the foot areas below (3).  Phantom's castle in the air again finds a mention and quite in detail. (4)

Eden is next on the list (5). While passing through dense forests of Spidera (6) he saves a panther who is entangled in the sticky nets. Headhunters of Tirangi are also there (7). All those events where phantom encountered the rope people to save a father-daughter duo from the clutches of cannibals (one rope people were like this) are again there to greet the reader. (8)

In more ways than one, the plot is lacklustre. Events occur on a flat pattern without offering much surprises which could have put the reader into guesswork. Another flaw in the story is that when Phantom collects the children in his effort to avoid the war, he seems to know in advance that there be children in the other clans who are as willing to meet the children from jungle tribes. Hard to digest. Poorly rendered.

Overall, not a particularly interesting story. But still it's a Phantom tale, so you can't afford to miss it.

More than eight years ago, I had purchased my first desktop pc, a pentium-3. Last week I got another one, the most advanced I could think of, with core 2 duo processor and 4 GB ram. And funny is that I had to spent only half the amount than what I had spent previous time. :-)

2 comment(s):

  1. Dear Phanton Head, thanks for sharing pal... could nt agree more on last era of Falk...