Last issue introduced Jennifer Knight, a secret journalist sleeping with a rising crime boss in order to get close enough to avenge the deaths of her parents. We got a brief glimpse into the future of Jennifer operating as the super hero Phantom Lady, but this issue reveals how she acquired her super abilities. After being kidnapped by the criminals, Cyrus, the crook/boyfriend threatens to torture her but leaves her dangling upside down, otherwise unharmed. She is ultimately rescued by best friend/kinda boyfriend Dane Maxwell, who was shrunk down to about six inches tall at the end of last issue. Dane is seemingly a Tony Stark-level inventor (but if so, why is he so down on his luck?) who has whipped up a jetpack and laser blasters to save Jen. Later, he gifts Jen with her Phantom Lady suit which allows her to become intangible (during which time she doesn’t have to breathe), manipulate dark matter and in a side effect, transports her targets into a cold, frightening limbo. The pair hide out at his parents’ lake cottage, where Jen can practice using her new powers. She dubs herself Phantom Lady and Dane Doll Man, to his chagrin. (I understand! It’s a terrible, old fashioned name. Why not at least Action Figure Man?) When they are finally ready, they return to Metropolis only to encounter a new super threat.
I wasn’t blown away by the first issue, but it was good enough for me to try the second. Sadly, it dipped a bit lower on my scale. The art by Cat Staggs was great! There’s something about the way that she draws Jennifer that I really enjoy. She looks like a real person not a drawing or some perfect goddess. That’s true of all the characters, but it particularly resonates with the star.
The way the story is structured is a bit wonky, though. The time shifts are clunkier than I would like. The mafia-like villains are boring and not creative. The new villain that pops up at the end has an awful name. And like I mentioned, Dane is a bit too deus ex machina. I mean he invents Jen’s powerful suit, a jet pack, laser blasters, a shrink ray… yet he’s a lowly, unemployed nobody. If he’d invented just ONE of those things, he’d be a gazillionaire! Instead he’s a love-struck, sidekick with a rotten codename.
There’s loads of potential here. Jennifer and Dane are likeable and have an evolving dynamic. Obviously, with the anouncement that writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray are following this book up with ‘The Human Bomb’ the pair are working toward a Freedom Fighters revamp. Hopefully Jen and Dane, along with the delightful Lucien Gates (The Ray), will get a chance to fight on in the New 52.
PHANTOM LADY #3
Written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Art by Cat Staggs
Cover by Stephane Roux