Wednesday, October 7, 2009

TPH #67: Phantom daily strip by Lee Falk (D-193, The Dakk Pirates)

A repeatitive theme in Phantom stories is 'the eastern dark' and the evildoers belonging to that land. For centuries phantoms have been fighting a constant battle against the ever upsurging crime-waves from the lands of dark. Lee Falk created at least four different stories on this topic.

One of the titles that Phantom holds declares him "the guardian of the eastern dark". The age old rivalry between the pirates/thugs of eastern dark and phantoms have provided Phantom lovers with some great stuff to read. The last of these (from Falk's pen) was the daily strip number 193, "The Dakk Pirates". This is presented in the current post.


The old pirate kingdom of Dakk has now transformed itself into an ultra modern city that provides the tourists all sorts of comfort of a rich luxurious life. It has become a major attraction for people who come here in search for pleasures of life. All sorts of drugs are easily available here in open market for the needfuls. The place is also like a heaven for terrorists as different kinds of weapons can be purchased easily and openly, if one is ready to pay the price in cash. The ruler of the land, 'Dar' is a descendent of old pirates. He himself is in charge of all these illegal activities taking place inside his kingdom.

The terrorist activities taking place around the world, when traced, mostly points to the Dakk. President Luaga of Bangalla, asks for Phantom's help in the matter. Phantom reaches the city of Dakk, takes a stroll and evaluate the situation. Then he directly approaches Dar, the ruler of Dakk. A closed room discussion with Dar proves fruitful and he is able to apply some 'Phantomish methods' to persuade Dar into closing all illegal trades. Drugs, weapon on display are destroyed.

My view:

Many friends believe that post Falk stories are far inferior to those created by Lee Falk himself. This is true if we compare the new strips with old Falkian strips, created by Falk during his heydays. But this story suggests that towards his ending phase, Mr Lee Falk was also generating some average stories. His work in the 90s is not of the same level what he did during 60s and 70s. So, it can be assumed that the decline in the story content was the result of some external factors also.

With the rising popularity of television worldover (and in third world countries in particular), and at the same time subsiding public interest in reading, forced creators to bring about some new themes in the stories. To survive in the fast changing world, one has to keep changing according to the public taste. The old Phantom lovers had to bear the brunt of the situation. They find difficult to adjust to the new themes and miss the old adventures. But that is understandable.

Now about the present story. No real action in the tale from Phantom. At so many places references to old events are presented to remind the reader of previously read tales and to add some nostalgic elements to the story. This is ok when previous encounters of Phantom against the dark land are referenced. But the mention of Phantom wedding makes no sense here. Just a filler which adds nothing to the storyline.

Some discrepancies are also observed. When Phantom reaches Dakk, a panel says his ancestors would be happy that the current Phantom is also continuing the battle on the lines of some of his forefathers. 'Now it is your turn', they are showering blessing on him. But actually this is not the first time 21st Phantom is in the land of eastern dark. He has been here before and has competently performed his duties.

In a heavily guarded palace, Phantom is able to enter the room of Dar. And not by his normal way, through the window. But this time he is in by doorway. Quite unusual and unbelievable. Isn't it?

Read it yourself and make your opinion.

One note, the first page is not very attractive in terms of looks but rest are nice. Enjoy.

2 comment(s):

  1. TPH,

    Your post on the eastern dark is very nice. the pic's look good.

    keep it up. all the best.

    by the way, am the 1st to comment.