Tuesday, February 15, 2022

"You fiend! You shall die by your own evil creation!" A tribute to Fantomah!

Who was Fantomah?
Fantomah, the "Mystery Woman of the Jungle," is a mysterious goddess-like being who protects the jungles of Africa. She has vast magical power, to the point of being practically omnipotent, and can transform herself into a frightening blue phantom/skeleton creature as well as a floating skull with blonde hair. Like her fellow Fletcher Hanks creation, Stardust, Fantomah often used her vast magical powers to sentence her enemies to bizarre and brutal punishments. For instance, in Jungle Comics #7 she transforms a band of greedy diamond miners who oppressed the natives into one man, then sends that man to an "unfound world" to be enslaved by hideous green fanged monsters, then sent into a pit of cobras, and then absorbed into a wall by a giant hand. Besides greedy treasure hunters and slavers she wreaked her brutal vengeance on such bizarre foes as Org, who controlled giant spiders with a hypnotic drum, and Professor Zomax, who wanted revenge on nature after being successively attacked by a lion, an elephant, gnats, a snake, and a gorilla. ..

She is so weird. I love her.
Sadly after Fletcher left the comic they made her into something more generic.
When Fletcher Hanks left the comic books industry in 1941, Fantomah was the only one of his characters to continue to appear in the Golden Age after Hank’s retirement. The unknown creative team that replaces Hanks would tone would down Fantomah to a regular Sheena-clone with some mystical power. Interestingly the first post-Hanks story did try to make Fantomah look like she under Hank, but with a more revealing swimsuit design.
In March 1942, Fantomah was retcon to be the princess of a lost civilization with ties to Ancient Egypt. Beyond the new backstory, she also gains a new Egyptian queen inspired get-up and a panther companion named Fury. Interestingly this incarnation of Fantomah was the longest-lasting, with this status quo lasting until Fantomah’s last Golden Age appearance in Jungle Comics no. 51 in 1944... Unlike many of her Golden Age peer, it wasn’t until the 21st century that would be any effort to revived Fantomah. Beyond some reprint in AC various reprint titles and a cameo in a group shot in Femforce, Fantomah would not return to comics until 2009.
Since nothing is obscure on the Internet Fantomah has inspired fan art, cosplay and even action figures. Lets check out some of it as well as some more of the original artist's work.


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