One of the best reasons to love the Phantom Stranger? The Phantom Stranger's Hat.
I bet you're thinking, "Yeah, it's so cool how his hat always stays on his head, except for that one time in got knocked off in Hell in that big Swamp Thing story!"
But you're wrong.
The Phantom Stranger's hat, you see, is not a mere object he wears at will. It's some kind of semi-sentient, quasi-independent entity, that simply chooses to stay with him most of the time. Kind of like my dog.
Sometimes, however, it simply goes walkabout.
In this panel, for example, the Phantom Stranger puts his hat on, which has been noticeably absent for most of the action in the story.
Where was it? How did he get it back? Even I do not understand all the workings of the Phantom Stranger's hat. But you know all those times the Phantom Stranger mysteriously disappears? It's not him; it's the hat, and it simply takes PS along for the ride. Kind of like walking my dog.
Here's another one from the Archives of the Phantom Stranger's Naked Head:
This is one of those stories where the hat is absent. UNTIL... the Epilogue.
What the heck is PS's hat doing lying in a previously unseen alley? Rumor has it, the hat sometimes goes off tomcatting with its alley-buds.. You know....Sargon's turban, the Helm of Fate, Eclipo's Phyrgian cap. Sometimes they get in fights and beat up Felix Faust's desert-hat-thingie or the Matter Master's dunce-cap. Other times, they meet up with Zatanna's Red Caterpillar Hat, and... well, you know.
And what's the meaning of juxtaposing the Phantom Stranger putting on his hat with some guy shooting a security guard? What does "meaning' mean in a Phantom Stranger story...?!
Sometimes, the hat gets feisty and decides to chase cars...
or just start howling at people it doesn't like.
The Phantom Stranger's hat deserves its own Who's Who page, a Heroclix pog, and an indy band named after it.