Monday, April 13, 2015

Dear Kit Walker (Phantom)

Kit Walker aka the 21st Phantom, the Ghost who walks, the Man who cannot die
Skull Cave, Deep in the heart of Bangalla, Africa
C/o Lee Falk

Dear Kit Walker

As kids, most of my friends were fascinated by you. The fact that you were 21st in a series of Phantoms going back in time to the year 1536 added considerably to your appeal.

The makers took pains to build on your ancestors’ stories, which I found fascinating, influencing my views about the significance of the back story. But there were several inconsistencies in history and storylines so I always skipped them in favour of you.

The idea that the first Phantom swore to fight evil on the skull of his father’s murderer was an interesting part of the premise. Each new Phantom accepted the responsibility from his dying father, swearing the oath,
“I swear to devote my life to the destruction of piracy, greed, cruelty and injustice, in all its forms, and my sons and their sons shall follow me.”

Yours was a crusading tradition steeped in patriarchy, but back then I never questioned it. I did occasionally wonder what would happen if a particular Phantom sired only daughters or if a son refused to take on the legacy of crime fighting.

The skull was to leave its mark on many aspects of your universe, the Skull Cave and the Mark. Roughnecks learned to fear the mark left by your signet ring when it collided violently with their external anatomy. Legend said the mark never left.

You had another ring with the “Good Mark,” with which you marked those who were under your protection. Even the animals of the jungle recognized the mark. 

Where possible, you would be accompanied by Devil, your wolf, and Hero, your horse, but otherwise you were a one-man army. You had no superpowers; you were all too-human, and had to rely on your wits, your physical strength and intelligence and a few weapons to fight crime.

I wondered sometimes whether the skintight costume did not inhibit easy movement and how on earth could you see through a mask that had no slots through which your eyes could peek.

I used to think it was very cool to trick people into thinking you were immortal when actually you weren’t. I guess the costume was needed to maintain your identity. But didn’t you ever realize that you were compromising your identity by relying on the tom-tomming of the jungle drums for your communication? There was always a possibility that the secret might leak.

After all, no one but your family and closest friends, certainly not us readers, has ever seen your face unmasked. For jungle lore decreed that those who see your face will “die a terrible death.”

Those jungle sayings were a hoot. 

“Phantom has a thousand eyes and a thousand ears.” 

“Phantom moves with the power of a charging bull elephant.” 

Phantom moves softer than a stalking great cat.”

I realize today that those sayings couldn’t possibly have been true, but they added to your legend, and that was all that mattered.

For those who came in late, the Ghost who walks still walks.


  1. This is a superhero that I don't think I have ever read or seen any videos about. I just know the name. So, now I know a little more. Thanks. Your posts are so clever.

  2. who can forget the purple suit. The phantom was the best part of the illustrated weekly. You made me take a nice walk down memory lane.

  3. Denise, as children, we gobbled up every strip of Phantom we could lay our hands on. Guess we were starved for entertainment, but I still remember those strips fondly.

  4. Suzy, I too took a trip down memory lane with this one. I loved Phantom. I haven't read the strip in years though.

  5. My earliest introduction to the ghost who walks was through the daily column in the was in fact the first superhero strip I remember reading!

  6. I have never missed a column of Phantom in the newspaper. Even borrowed comics from brother. The fact the Phantom swore on the skull of his father was very intriguing and kept me hooked to his adventures.

  7. I remember too, Little princess, how avidly I lapped up those strips. I couldn't have enough. The guy was something, wasn't he?

  8. Rajlakshmi, I too remember borrowing comics from friends, my brothers' friends, anyone. The mark that he left on the baddies' faces amused me no end. I used to wonder if it would ever go away.

  9. This is delicious writing, Cynthia:)

  10. I hate to admit it, but I'm not very familiar with the phantom and I used to read a lot of comics.

  11. Not much of a comic buff, so this character I didn't know about :) But I like your posts.

  12. I used to love reading Phantom comics. That was surely a visit down nostalgia lane. I used to lap up all those sayings. I simply adored Phantoms Garden of Eden and even today dream of such a place. Enjoyed your post Cynthia :D
    You are welcome to check my A-Z posts here:

  13. Vinay Leo, he was the big daddy of all masked crusaders, so be sure to check him up online whenever you have some free time on your hands.

  14. Jeffrey, I do wish you'd rush to the nearest screen and correct that. Phantom was amazing. I'm sure you'll like him.

  15. Sundari, ah, a fellow Phantom enthusiast. I loved that island where he honeymooned. There was gold dust everywhere, remember that?

  16. I was an avid Phantom reader. I loved what you said about his costume. Made me nostalgic.

  17. Oh, yes, Janaki, that purple suit was so cool.

  18. I so want to read the phantom stories now :) I am loving your posts Cynthia :)

  19. I could never get enough of Phantom comics and it's the same even now after decades of reading those comics. For me, no other superhero can hold a candle to the Phantom & the movie did not do justice to the comics. if I remember correctly, there was a female Phantom in the lineage or maybe Diana Palmer dons a female Phantom suit and gets caught by some crooks. The tree house, the Golden Beach, the Jade hut, the Jungle Olympics.. Oh! I could go on and on and on... :) That was a good one Cynthia

  20. Thank you, Swathi, yet another excuse to wallow in nostalgia. But Phantom deserves the trip down memory lane.

  21. Oh, yes, Prathima, there was a female Phantom, but I can't remember much of her. I don't think I read too many stories with her in it. Back in those days, people used to bind comics together. And I would 'devour' them whenever I came across a bound copy. Devour is the word.



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