During the sixteenth century, a man named Christopher Walker was sailing on the seas of Africa with his father, when they fell prey to pirates' attack. The pirates slaughtered the ship's crew and blew up the ship. The only survivor was young Christopher. He was washed up onto the Bangallan Beach. He then took his father's skull and swore an oath upon it, "I swear to devote my life to the destruction of piracy, greed, cruelty and injustice! And my sons, and their sons, shall follow me!"
Thus originated the first Phantom. He became friends with the various local tribes and dedicated his life to fighting injustice and cruelty. The violet costume was standardized by this Christopher 'Kit' Walker.
In 1936, Lee Falk created a mysterious costumed crime fighter on the request King Features Newspaper Syndicate to create a new feature. It began as a daily newspaper comic strips on February 17th, 1936. He planned the story for initial few months and then drew them himself for the first two weeks as sample strips. Lee Falk was inspired by different myths and legends as that of the well known El Cid and King Arthur and some of the fictional characters as Zorro, Tarzan and Mowgli. Initially, the Phantom's alter ego was a rich playboy by name Jimmy Wells. But in his later stories that introduced the Singh Brotherhood, moved the Phantom to the jungle and making him more of a jungle legend. There were many other fictional characters that carried the name "Phantom" such as The Phantom Detective and The Phantom of Opera. So he thought about calling this masked man as "Gray Ghost" but somehow he liked the name "The Phantom" better.
In A&E American Cable TV documentary about the Phantom, Falk mentioned that he was inspired by Greek busts for the idea of the Phantom's pupils not being shown through his mask. The Greek busts had no pupils and Falk thought that gave them an inhuman and interesting look. Falk, in another interview mentioned that the skin-tight costume was inspired by the popular Robin Hood, who wore such a costume in the movie and stage adaptations.
The current Phantom is the 21st of the line. After a long courtship he married his childhood sweetheart Diana Palmer in a lavish 1977 jungle ceremony notably attended by two African presidents and fellow Lee Falk creation Mandrake the Magician. Soon afterwords Diana gave birth to twins, a boy named Christopher "Kit" Walker-Palmer and daughter Heloise Walker-Palmer. He is primarily assisted in his adventures by a tamed pet wolf called Devil and a white horse named Hero, whose speed is legendary. His best friend since childhood is Guran, the now current chief of the Pygmy Bandar tribe.
The 21st Phantom remains a devoted family man knowing that in his line of work, whatever time he has with his family is precious, but always holding strong the family tradition of fighting injustice wherever it may take him. Their young son, Kit, is in training to someday take the sacred "Oath of the Skull" and become the 22nd Phantom.
The Phantom is known as " The Ghost Who Walks ", and is believed to have lived for more than 400 years. But in reality, this is just a myth. The Phantom is an ordinary human being. Almost every Phantom has married a woman of Royal Blood. They have had sons, most of whom have shared the name, Kit Walker. When a father Phantom retires from his work as Phantom, his son takes his place, swears the oath and becomes the new Phantom. Then the father is buried inside a secret burial chamber inside the Skull Cave.
But it is not only the son who becomes the Phantom. Evidences of female Phantoms have also been found. Sometimes a daughter would take on the task of the Phantom in a similar Phantom outfit. This way the Phantom lives on, and has become a jungle legend.
The Ghost Who Walks: When the Phantom is in his outfit and battling injustice, he is known as such. In this form, jungle people and other tribes know him to be a ghost who has lived for more than 400 years. In this form, the Phantom patrols the Bangallan area with his base of operations being deep inside the jungle.
Mr. Walker: This is the manner in which the Phantom presents himself to the outside world. He wears a long overcoat with blue trousers and a hat. His face is concealed in dark glasses. No one even knows his first name, all call him 'Mr. Walker'.
Mysterious Commander: Unknown to The Jungle Patrol, the Phantom is the Commander in Chief of the unit. He leaves messages and orders inside the Colonel's locker which he accesses via a secret tunnel. No one knows who the sender is, so they refer to him as "the Mysterious Commander".
Julie Walker: Read Julie Walker
The Phantom - Versions
Over time, many publishers had published The Phantom in many different versions. Sometimes as himself, the 21st Phantom, some stories on his various ancestors and some stories based on his son Kit Walker and daughter Heloise Walker.
Gold Key, Charlton, King Features Syndicate
Marvel - The Phantom: The Ghost Who Walks (1995)
- In 1995 Marvel published a 3 issue mini series with this title.
- The Phantom was having the aggressive nature similar to that of various other Marvel characters.
- Unlike the regular version we all know, Phantom illustrated here is more strong, opinionated.
- He is more modern involving strong bullet repelling armor suit and geared up with advanced infrared view finder and collapsible special armor within the gloves that can resist a sword hit.
- The bullet repelling armor is something that has been missing in many Phantom versions and truly gets the character close to being a "Ghost".
- The story spins around with lot of politics going around the Bengallan area and involves bureaucrats in big conspiracy while the Phantom is keen on resolving issues in favor of Bengali population.
DC Comics (1988-89)
- Between 1988 and 1989, DC Comics published a 13 issue series of the Phantom.
- These were more close to the canonical Phantom as created by Lee Falk but with new short stories spanning one or two issues each.
- DC for some reason stopped publishing any stories on The Phantom after this series.
Phantom 2040 (24th Phantom)
- Phantom 2040 was introduced as part if the 1994 television series was the 24th Phantom, the grandson of Kit. In a futuristic Metropia, the new home, the Phantom fights against the Maximum Inc., an evil organization set to control the world.
- Following the TV show, Marvel published the new volume Phantom 2040 in the year 1995.
- Dynamite introduced the son of the original 21st Century Phantom, Kit Walker as the new Phantom.
- Dubbed as the 22nd Phantom, Kit has given up the Phantom lineage and seemed to have indulged in philanthropic activities in New York.
- However several inevitable incidents bring him back to be the new Phantom and we get our new tech savvy, stronger and more angry Phantom that we have ever seen.
- He has the special invisibility power by which he is more convincing to be ghost than ever before!
- The ongoing story arc is in progress revealing what has become of his father, the 21st Phantom.
- Read more about him here: Kit Walker
- Egmont started publishing self-produced material in Sweden and Norway around the 1960's.
- The current task-force behind the 21st Phantom stories, "Team Fantomen" creates Phantom stories for this publishing.
- The first man to wear the skull ring, and a mask similar to the Phantom, was a Knight named Christophe D' Errant who lived around 1160 to 1210 A.D., during the Holy Crusades.
- A Skull Throne was discovered in France.
Peak Human Conditioning: Every version of the Phantom is trained from birth in the fighting arts and is cross-trained in numerous other athletic disciplines. As a result, each Phantom is as strong, fast, agile, flexible, and enduring as humanly possible.
Master Marksman: Each iteration of the Phantom is expertly trained in all weapons, especially firearms. As a result, the Phantom almost never misses his mark.
All Phantoms in the lineage wear a belt with weapons attached to it. It has a skull mark at the center of the buckle. Centuries ago Phantom’s belt had a scabbard attached holding a sword. The Phantom is known for his adept swordsmanship.
The 21st Phantom usually carries around a single dagger and twin .45 pistols attached on either side of the gun belt. The Phantom is a sharp shooter; he never misses a mark!
Once the 20th Phantom was killed by a gangster Ramu who back stabs him and snatches his gun belt as his prize and proof of killing. The 21st Phantom finds the killer and retrieves it back and restores it in the Skull Cave in one of Lee Falk’s famous stories about the gun belt.
The Phantom wears two rings that can permanently mark whomever they touch. The ring on his left hand features four overlapping sabres forming a cross known as "The Good Mark". Those touched by it are under The Phantom's protection and the mark itself is said to give the wearer amazing luck.
The right hand ring bears a Skull, and those that receive its mark (usually via a strong right hook) are branded a victim of The Phantom's wrath and bad luck seems to then follow them around. The 21st Phantom is skeptical of the mystical qualities of his rings, but they are legendary amongst the natives of Bangalla and the criminal underworld.
Old Jungle Sayings
There is no story of The Phantom where the people of jungle quote an "Old Jungle Saying" that either they heard from their ancestors or from old man Mozz. Below are some of the popular sayings that linger in the minds of people, both good and bad, in and around the deep woods of Bengalla.
- "The Phantom has a thousand eyes and a thousand ears."
- "The Phantom can be at many places at once."
- "You never find the Phantom, he finds you."
- "Nobody argues with the Phantom and wins"
- "Never point a gun at the Phantom"
- "When the Phantom asks, you answer."
- "No man can refuse the voice of the Phantom."
- "The voice of the angry Phantom freezes a tiger's blood."
- "Better to stare into the tiger's eyes than into the cold eyes of the angry Phantom."
- "The Phantom will never refuse a challenge."
- "Phantom, rough on roughnecks"
The Phantom Country
The "Phantom Country" is the name given to the fictional country of Bengali, as referred to in the early editions of the Phantom comics. This consists of various significant locations surrounding the "Deep Woods". Most of the Phantom's adventures are in these locations. However there are times when the Phantom travels out of the jungle just like an ordinary man and walk the streets of cities around the world or even over the sea.
Read more about the Phantom Country here: Bengali.
This was the first live-action Phantom movie from Paramount pictures. The movie casts Billy Zane as The Phantom, Kristy Swanson is Diana Palmer, Catherine Zeta-Jones as Sala, the leader of the an all-female gang of air pirates known as the Sky Band and Treat Williams is the villain, Xander Drax. Simon Wincer has directed the movie and story by Jeffrey Boam, the writer of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. On the outset, The Phantom is to stop Drax from obtaining a weapon of doom, the legendary "Skulls of Touganda". There is also the Singh Brotherhood, a gang of pirates one of whom was the killer of the 21st Phantom's father. The 21st Phantom recovers his father's gunbelt from the brotherhood and avenges his father's murder as cited in Lee Falk's popular story of "The Belt". The movie was filmed on different locations like Australia, Thailand and Los Angeles.
For the title role, Bruce Campbell was another option but Billy Zane was a huge fan of the comic strip and was earlier being introduced to the Australian Frew comics on the set of Dead Calm. Once he finally got the role, Zane prepared by pumping iron for nearly a year to fill the Phantom's costume. He refused to wear a costume with molded muscles like the Batman costume. He also carefully studied the comic panels to get a good understanding of the character's attitude and body language.
TV Series: Phantom 2040
The Phantom 2040 was a animated series telecast between 1994-1996. It is the year 2040 and 24 generations of Phantoms have passed by. The "Ghost Who Walks" continues to fight against crime and injustice in year 2040 as the 24th Phantom. In this time period, the Phantom has now moved to a new jungle "Metropia" which is a surviving homes for mankind after the resource wars. Kit Walker continues the Phantom's legacy, this time against Maximum Incorporation, a wealthy syndicate determined to destroy a small part of the world even if it means to destroy the rest of it. The new Phantom also fights against terrorists of free orbital movement, the mystery of his father's death and various other thugs with their own path of crime. Sagan Cruz is his girlfriend who is part of a special police unit that is charged with hunting down the Phantom. All in all this is an incredible mix of science fiction but still retaining the Phantom's legendary traits of a jungle.
The credit of the series goes to multiple directors and story writers.
An animated TV series was telecast in 1986. This has a team of characters from King Features Syndicate - Flash Gordon, the Phantom, and Mandrake the Magician fighting the villain, Ming the Merciless in the year 2015. Also featured are the children of the main character league. Rick Gordon, Jedda Walker (daughter of the Phantom), Kshin (adopted son of Mandrake), Mandrake's assistant Lothar, and Lothar's son L.J.
The show ended after completing 65 episodes.
There was also short comic book series published by Star Comics (reprint of Marvel Comics).
Phantom 2040 video game was developed by Hearst Entertainment and published by Viacom in 1995 for the Sega Genesis, the Super Nintendo and Game Gear. It is based on the Phantom of 2040 theme. Maximum, Inc. is all set to control the world. As head of Maximum, Rebecca Madison will stop at nothing to overpower anything on the way to control the world. Unless the Phantom can overpower her. The Phantom has to find the evil Rebecca in the vast city of Metropia fighting his way through Vicious bosses and hordes of programmed humanoid robots (BIOTS).
He has heavy-duty weapons including a smart gun, inductance rope, homing missile among many others. He can use two weapons at once to double the chances of survival. User can control the Phantom's destiny while going through more than 60 levels.
Animated Feature Film
The animated movie Phantom 2040: The Ghost Who Walks, from Hearst Entertainment, Inc./ King Features Syndicate, Inc.is based on the popular television series, Phantom 2040. In the year 2040, the fate of the planet depends on the intelligence and courage of the young Kit Walker who is now the Phantom in the year 2040. He must battle the evil and destructive Rebecca Madison who plans to destroy all of the earth's resources. The Phantom can stop her only be the way through virtual worlds and "remote brains".