Or, more accurately, why has DC forsaken thee?
I've written a lot of the Phantom Stranger, a character I adore. From beginnings as part of an Odd Couple with Dr Thirteen to his pre-new52 status as the Guy Who'll Smack-talk Darkseid and the Quintessence gang, the Phantom Stranger has been remarkably...
well, I was going to say "consistent". But in fact he is anything but. His inconsistency is, in a way, part of what is consistent about him. You cannot say what his powers are. Or how or why he does what he does. Or even what it is he does.
You don't know his name. Or his origin. The main things you know about him that are constant are:
- he seems to come and go as he pleases ("Phantom") and
- no one, including you, knows jack about him ("Stranger").
- Oh, and that he's basically a good guy, who helps good guys do good things, using his superior knowledge and vaguely mystical powers.
In the Zero issue of "Phantom Stranger", DC has abandoned all that, pretty much ruining the character completely in just one story.
Oh, he still looks the same. And he sounds the same. But he's a phantom of his former self, and he's become a stranger to me:
- They gave him a definite origin.
- That origin is tied (pretty unambiguously) to the Jesus Christ mythos.
- He is punished by kind of characters he used to challenge with impunity.
- He no longer follows his own mysterious agenda, but is the pawn of others.
- He has no idea what he's doing, or why.
- He seems apathetic about humanity.
They did everything I can think of that would ruin the character short of making him do a rap version of his own theme song. And somehow the real Phantom Stranger would have still made that work.