First you may have missed: Phantom Lantern
My article release schedule has been a little off lately but I’m am working on changing that.
Today we will dive into the wonderful world of cosmic D.C. Comics and I give you the first appearance of the Phantom Lantern. So here we go “Phantom of the first-pra”
Over the long history of the Lantern Corps we have had a plethora of lanterns to choose from, in a range of colors that would give skittles a run for its money.
Not to mention users from all over the galaxy. What makes a “Lantern” at least in my opinion is when a being puts on a ring and is granted powers.
So this first is not for the first appearance of the character that becomes the lantern or the ring (although I will throw those in as a bonus…free of charge) but the first appearance of the character who is the Phantom Lantern as a whole.
I really enjoy the backstory for the Phantom Lantern as it borrows from deep D.C. history in a way that makes sense.
But it could just be me reaching a bit…. I will let you decide.
Frank Laminski first appears in Green Lantern #8, unnamed in a few cut-up panels on a page which most would call a cameo.
Then in issue #9 we get the full backstory of Frank Laminski and to sum it up it goes like this.
Frank always wanted to be a pilot his whole life, but when he got his shot to test an experimental plane known as the Flaming Spear he blew it.
He calls for help using these words “controls frozen I’m in a dive c-can’t pull out” (just remember this) and was then saved by none other than Green Lantern Hal Jordan.
Ok before I continue with the story I want to add in some deep comic talk about the actual first appearance of Frank. While his wiki page (at the moment) credits Green Lanterns #8 (2016) as his first appearance which I agree with in a way I would like to bring up another interesting possibility.
Showcase #22 (1959) while Hal is trying to court Carol, over the loud speaker it's heard that the Flaming Spear is in trouble. At this time we hear the pilot say “controls frozen I’m in a dive c-can’t pull out” (interesting) then Carol says to Hal the pilot's name is Frank Nichols before Hal heads off to save him as the Green Lantern. Now the discrepancy of the last name can be explained or not and some may argue that it is a different character but I will go with it being the same guy and say his 1st appearance is showcase #22. You can make your own decisions with the facts given. Moving on.
After Frank is saved by the Green Lantern he becomes obsessed with him and once he sees John Steward on t.v. as a 2nd green lantern, he decides he wants to become one himself. Trying his best to get selected by a ring Frank does every good thing he can think of for years even becoming a guard at Arkham and a Vigilante Hero at some point.
One day a ring did come to him, but as he went to reach for it the ring said “malfunction” and that he was in fact not chosen then flew off to Guantanamo Bay (which we know is where Simon Baz was). This devastated Frank to say the least and here is where his desperation turns dark eventually leading him to a meeting with Volthoom the first lantern where he tells him about the Phantom ring.
Now let’s dive into the history of the Phantom Ring. The Phantom Ring was first teased in Green Lanterns Rebirth #1(the one shot not the ongoing). But is not actually seen until the end of Green Lanterns #6 and it’s not until #8 do we get the full backstory behind the ring.
The ring was created by Rami (who 1st cameoed in the rebirth one shot) as a way to help protect the universe. While other rings had to choose a bearer, the Phantom Ring was made to be used by anyone at any time and work with any emotion like a universal ring.
Although created with good intentions this ring and its maker were rejected by the Guardians and banished.
At this point Rami began to see the dangers of the ring and even tried to destroy it (unsuccessfully) and he makes his way to earth leading to a meeting between a ring that can be worn by anyone and a man who will do anything for a ring.
This is where we get the character The Phantom Lantern! Green Lanterns issue #10 full page display with name, this is a full on first appearance with multiple pages. This issue has two covers and the Phantom Lantern story arc starts in the next issue.
Phantom Lantern in my opinion is a great character to go against the team of Cruz and Baz.
Although the ring was retrieved from Laminski, with such a fleshed out back story and great concept I doubt this will be the last we see of this iteration of the Phantom Lantern. (make more rings? Volthoom and the Phantom Lantern corps lol).
If you're betting on the ring the man or the combination there's some firsts here for you:
- Showcase #22 First Frank Nichols (Laminski in my speculation). If you don’t own one or haven't been saving for one this book is not for you. Being the first appearance of Hal Jordan, it is already headed to the moon in price.
- Green Lanterns rebirth #1 (1st ring tease) 1st appearance of Rami (cameo) 99k print run. 2 covers
- Green Lanterns #3 first full Rami 78k print 2 covers
- Green Lantern #6 first appearance of the Phantom Ring. 58k print 2 standard covers with comp issues stating “family matters” at the top. These comp issues do exist but are extremely rare the originals were said to be shredded before they hit diamond. If you see 1 grab it.
- Green Lanterns #8 First Frank Laminski (cameo) Phantom Ring/Rami origin. 52k print 2 covers
- Green Lanterns #9 First Frank Laminski (full) 49k 2 covers
- Green Lanterns #10 1st appearance of the Phantom Lantern. 46k 2 covers
While the print runs are not low, the prices for these books (minus showcase of course) are. Can’t hurt to grab both covers. Also, all the rebirth issues should also have 3.99 price variants from book stores so be on the lookout for those.
As always thank you for your time and remember Its better to have first and flip, then to never have first at all” — Valiant Horton