The Much Harder Way: Exclusive Preview of 'Phantom Stranger'

The Phantom Stranger’s never made things easy for himself, but maybe his piercingly sharp moral clarity can help with that.


There’s a line somewhere in Brian Azzarello and Eduaro Risso’s magnum opus, 100 Bullets, that seems to clarify an essential paradox in making a living by marketing your unique skills. The line goes “service, not servitude.” It’s a line that reframes the question, if you serve something greater than yourself, how much of your essential freedom are you compromising? The answer, at least for Azzarello and Risso is more complex than arguably Dumas’ Three Musketeers whose pledge of service is to a morally ambiguous idea of monarchy or even X-Men’s complex morality of protecting those who fear and hate them. What Azzarello and Risso seem to offer is, for those who choose to serve, the very act of service can be a liberator experience.

But in the pages of the upcoming Trinity of Sin: Phantom Stranger #22, released this coming Wednesday, series regular writer J.M. DeMatteis thinks even bigger.

One of the most endearing qualities of the Phantom Stranger, and one that’s made him so compelling throughout his publication history, has been his enduring push towards individual action, that comes from abundant moral clarity. It’s made the Stranger a virtual pariah in DC’s mystic/cosmic world, but it’s also helped shape the nature of storytelling around the character. Almost always, the classic Stranger stories have taken on the proportions of a kind of cosmic/mystical Western, where the Stranger will do things His Way, regardless of the price.

But a little bit because the current DCU has returned to naming the Divine Creative Principle “the Source,” this issue, where the Stranger goes up against that primal power, knowing he’s going to lose, also feels a little bit Eminem.

Please enjoy our exclusive preview of Trinity of Sin: Phantom Stranger #22.


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