I was talking with some friends, a few days back, about Public Domain comic book characters.
There’s a true army of those – heroes (and villains) that failed to make it big in the heyday of comics, or whose publishers just went belly-up before they could make it big. You can find a list of these gone-but-not-forgotten characters, and details about them, in this Public Domain Super Heroes database.
Among the heroes mentioned there is an old… well, maybe old flame is the wrong word. Let’s say a character I was always fascinated with: Fantomah.
Quoth the above-mentioned database…
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.
And no kidding.
But in truth I am much more interested in a later reiteration of the character…
In still later stories she was “Fantomah, Daughter of the Pharoahs,” the queen of a lost civilization descended from the ancient Egyptians. She had a pet black panther named Fury. In this incarnation her enemies included Ghazia, “priestess of the vulture-headed goddess,” who commanded an army of mummies.
Yeah. Read it aloud…
Black panther named Fury.
The priestess of the vulture-headed goddess and her army of mummies.
You know I am a sucker for this kind of things.
And so I said to myself – what if I try and do something with the character?
Just imagine, the Daughter of the Pharaohs rules over an Opar-like Egyptian enclave in Dark Africa, and does her Phantom-style queen of the jungle/avenger number, complete with black panther, but when the going gets rough she turns into a mummy-like She-Hulk with magical powers.
And yes, her arch-enemy has an army of mummies. And don’t get me started about the Vulture-Headed Goddess.
Turns out somebody already resurrected Fantomah, that not only was featured in the comic series Hack/Slash, but appears in the anthology Something Strange is Going On… in a story by the excellent Jim Beard.
And there’s also others working with the grisly blonde.
But oh, heck, it’s a Public Domain character, so why shouldn’t I have a go at it?
Especially considering her other dancing partners expressed no objection?
And while I am certainly saving some of this – yes, the Vulture-Headed Goddess and her cult – for a possible Second Season of AMARNA, in the meantime I’ll try something new, with Fantomah at her most surreal, B-movie-sque, Saturday Matinee Serial-like.
Stay tuned, because it might be fun.