Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Forgotten Phantom Stranger Writer

PS 2: Phantom Stranger and Dr. Thirteen battling thugs, one of latter exclaiming 'Ukkkk'

The Phantom Stranger was revived in the late Sixties with, at first, new frame stories around Fifties reprints of that character and of Dr. Thirteen, the Ghost-Breaker.

MF 89: Billy Batson exclaiming 'Ukkkk' as struck by, seemingly, Mary Batson
The scripts of those frame stories in the first three issues (Showcase 80 and PS 1-2) have for some time been attributed to Mike Friedrich, but I remember reading a fanzine piece some twenty or thirty years ago that gave the credit for #2's script to Otto Binder while confirming Friedrich as writer of Showcase 80 and the first PS issue.

"The Man Who Died Three Times" (PS 2, Aug/69) is indeed a Binder script—Binder is known to have written for editor Joe Orlando at the time, with a handful of stories in House of Mystery. This Phantom Stranger script is in the style of the main writer of Captain Marvel, as seen in the "Ukkkk" and "Ulps" used also in Marvel Family 88 (Oct/53) and 89 (Jan/54)—among many, many scripts over the course of Binder's career.

I wish I could give the source of that fanzine article or letter, because if I recall it correctly, the writer had no agenda in denying Friedrich the credit—that writer was Mike Friedrich.

PS 2 panel, and MF 88 panel with Mary Marvel: 'Ulps' in both


  1. I seem to recall that either THE COMIC READER or NEWFANGLES mentioned that Binder wrote the Phantom Stranger.

  2. I certainly wish I could recall where I read the piece I mention, but it was in a zine I don't have now.

  3. Martin,

    I did some rumagging through my The Comic Readers and this turned up in # 73, May 1969.

    "Phantom Stranger # 2 - Otto Binder produced this issues trilogy, entitled "The Man Who Died Three Times."

  4. Thanks, Nick. I didn't start getting TCR until I saw it at a comic book convention in 1972; I consider it the essential fanzine for such news.

  5. Martin,

    My first TCR was # 92 which I saw in the window of a used bookstore in my neighborhood. the dealer used to get TCR every month, and it was a revelation to read news about coming comics since I only recieved information from the Bullpen Bulletins. I was able to purchase many back issues at cons and through the Buyers Guide, although I don't have a complete set.