Saturday, March 27, 2010

Great Moments in Comics #2: The Phantom Meets the White Princess

After yesterday's Tintin entry, here's another one from the same era that also uses racially offensive iconography in the service of a subversive story. Lee Falk's The Phantom was the first spandex-wearing hero and he's still going strong today. This story (illustrated by Wilson McCoy) shows how Falk could take a basically-racist idea, the white hero who is worshipped by African jungle natives, and pretty much redeem it, by humanizing the tribes and wickedly satirizing the whites who seek to exploit them.

We begin far from the Phantom's jungle, at the desk of an American stenographer...

She quickly discovers that she's become a commodity. Eventually, the newfound source of wealth almost leads to war with another tribe. The Phantom, of course, puts a stop to that, and all's well that ends well...

Ba-bee! My favorite moment is the poor chef's-cap wearing local who can't get over the fact that "She ruined my potato soup."

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