DCU Spec – The Phantom Stranger

by Douglas Ohlandt

041023B-1024x536 DCU Spec - The Phantom StrangerNow that James Gunn has made his big announcement of the upcoming DCU productions, we’re able to dive deep into characters we know will be coming soon and speculate on others who could be making appearances in these projects or ones yet to be announced. Let’s take a look at the Phantom Stranger.

First Appearance

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The Phantom Stranger is one of those DC characters who is something of a cipher. So little is confirmed about the character’s origin or powers that he could work extremely well in the new DCU.

It wouldn’t be at all surprising to see the Phantom Stranger show up as a guide or someone offering up clues regarding a potential sticking point in continuity.

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The Phantom Stranger made his first appearance in The Phantom Stranger #1. Cover dated August 1952, there are an appreciable 102 graded copies in the CGC census. The most recent sale was a 3.5 graded copy going for $1,852 in the March 17 ComicConnect auction. It’s a record in the grade – if you don’t count the slashed $4,200 paid in August 2022.

Previous sales in the 3.5 grade are $1,500 in 2021, $1,700 in 2020, and $1,100 in 2017. It’s a normal trajectory with a not surprising slight spike in 2020. That 2022 sale just smells wrong. If you look at a comic’s sales patterns and notice an outlier, it’s worth tossing that sale aside in terms of determining what to pay and walking away from any dealer who insists on using that outlier to set pricing.

 First Silver Age Appearance

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The Phantom Stranger’s initial Golden Age series would only last six issues, and he disappeared completely until 1969’s Showcase #80. With 362 graded copies in the CGC census and a more recent vintage, this first Silver Age appearance of the Phantom Stranger is a much more affordable comic than its Golden Age predecessors. Keep in mind, however, that this comic is a reprint of material from the Golden Age series; the only thing that marks this as a first Silver Age appearance is the cover.

Sales in the 8.0 grade have averaged $319 in 2023 after averaging $287 in 2022 and $226 in 2021. So, we see a general upward trend in values although there have been highs and lows in there. It’s pretty affordable as minor keys go and could see a spike in value if the character does appear in the DCU.

Second Ongoing Series

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As with Showcase #80, the first three issues of the Phantom Stranger’s second series – The Phantom Stranger #1, The Phantom Stranger #2, and The Phantom Stranger #3 – are all reprints. It isn’t until The Phantom Stranger #4 that we begin to see original stories.

Based on sales in the 9.0 grade, it would appear that values for The Phantom Stranger #1 are starting to lift after a March 30 fixed-price eBay sale for $275. However, one sale does not make a trend. Values had been on a downward trajectory prior, reaching as low as $202 as recently as February 25. This after spiking as high as $319 in March 2021. A

n educated guess tells me you should be able to find a 9.0 below $275.

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If you’re really looking for value and you’re speculating on the Phantom Stranger, you’ll want to look at that first original Silver Age issue – The Phantom Stranger #4 – as a comic worthy of investing a little if hoping for a potential return. The issue features a great Neal Adams cover, as well as interior artwork by Adams, and is the first time we see the Phantom Stranger in the look with which he has since been associated, consisting of not just his black hat but a cloak rather than a black trenchcoat.

There are only 62 graded copies in the CGC census, and there has only been one sale in 2023: an 8.0 selling for a slashed $110 on January 14. If FOMO ever hits for the Phantom Stranger, folks could very well be looking for the first issue that features the character as he’ll likely appear in any DCU films or series, and current prices are very low.

JLA Membership

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The Phantom’s Stranger’s second series would last for 41 issues and the early 1970s would mark a highpoint for the character. The Phantom Stranger even joined the JLA in Justice League of America #103 – sort of. While offered membership, the enigmatic character disappeared before accepting.

With only 48 graded copies and no sales since July 2022 – a 9.0 going for $125 – this issue is more of a run filler for JLA completists. If you can find it in a higher grade for less, it’s definitely worth considering for your collection.


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The Phantom Stranger’s origin story has never been definitively told, although Secret Origins #10 from 1986 hypothesized no fewer than four possible origins, three of the four Biblical in nature with a fourth involving a time loop.

You’re better off looking for raw copies of this book. There are only nine graded copies, whereas raw copies likely abound in the cheap bins in shops and at shows.

Present Day

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As befits his nature, the Phantom Stranger has a tendency to come and go in DC comics. The character hasn’t been utilized overly much by DC since the New 52, in which he was revealed to be Judas Iscariot. Any New 52 appearances aren’t worth analyzing as graded comics as there are so few. T

he character has a great deal of potential that has been untapped in DC’s comic books and that could make him an enticing one to include in the DCU. Just know that he will likely never be considered a primary character but could serve as a linchpin who helps in the forming of a Justice League Dark if Gunn and crew decide to go in that direction.

Are you a Phantom Stranger fan? Do you think he’ll be a part of the DCU? Let us know below.

000080221A_Games_2-Footer DCU Spec - The Phantom Stranger*Any perceived investment advice is that of the freelance blogger and does not represent advice on behalf of GoCollect.

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