Note - this article covers both Bob Phantoms, but they are separate characters.
Version I -
The mysterious Bob Phantom was one of MLJ (of Archie fame) Comics Line's first forays into having a superhero. He first appeared in Blue Ribbon Comics #2 in 1939, and in several issues of Top-Notch as a back-up feature until that publication switched to a humor format. He resurfaced occasionally in the Crusaders. This Bob Phantom was Walter Whitney, reporter. This version had invulnerability, the ability to teleport, and could create a cloud of yellow smoke (often, but not necessarily linked to the teleportation). His secret id. had an antagonistic relationship with the local police. He also got a sidekick in 1941, a female reporter named Jinx Friday. After about 25 appearances in various MLJ in the early forties, he disappeared. Since then he has appeared only sporadically an may have wandered into public domain.
Version II -
When DC had the rights to the Archie Superheroes in the early nineties they introduced a new Bob Phantom in the pages of the Comet. This Bob Phantom became a costumed hero by accident. He was Bob Brooks, television producer. Brooks came up with the identity of Bob Phantom as a method of getting an interview with the Comet. This Bob Phantom had no superpowers. His equipment consisted of goggles, a wirepoon & climbing line and a paint gun. Since he looked the part, Brooks was able to secure his interview with the Comet. But during the interview two crises happened simultaneously. Comet flew off to handle one of them, and left Bob Phantom to deal with the other crisis.
Reluctantly, Bob was left to fight a villain with a powersuit and force field. The villain's forcefield had no problem stopping bullets - but lucky for Bob, it was defenseless against paint pellets. And the paint gummed up the works of the powersuit, leaving the villain unable to move. To Bob Phantom's utter amazement, he had managed to save the day.
While Bob became a superhero reluctantly, his saving the day did manage to impress a certain lovely lady who was <ahem> "into that sort of stuff." So, did Bob continue in his daring-do? Unfortunately, the Impact line folded shortly thereafter, so his further adventures are unchronicled.
But, in 2008 DC Comics reacquired the rights to the Archie Line (successor of MLJ). The Mighty Crusaders appeared as a DC title in 2010. Will Bob Phantom reappear? Only time will tell . . .
Bob Phantom I had the ability to teleport and could deflect bullets. He was also tough enough to fight off three lions with minimal effort, or throw a grown man through the side of a plane.
Bob Phantom II had only the equipment listed above and his wits.