A man and his dog – it doesn’t get any better than that. The Phantom Dog delivers an emotional and powerful story revolving around the Phantom Zone where we see the heart-warming reunion between Kal-El and Krypto.
Willing to test the new technology, the Kryptonian Council, led by Jor-El, sentence the mad scientist Xa-Du into the Phantom Zone for unleashing horrors of the living death upon the people through his work in suspended animation. “I hope we’re done the right thing”, Jor-El whispers to himself after it has been done, clearly in regret. We are able to see different sides of Jor-El in these Action Comics books, something we don’t often get the opportunity to see given that Superman is more often than not the focus of most of the stories. Hence, these little moments are very much welcomed.
The story of Xa-Du’s escape and his subsequent capture back into the Phantom Zone isn’t particularly spectacular, but I believe that that is by design. Morrison made it such that the presumed main story is actually the side story where we see the introduction of Xa-Du as an enemy of Superman, who will have a role in the coming story. Despite this, Foreman’s artwork in the book might be my favourite so far in this series. Xa-Du comes across as a worthy threat to Superman due to his unique powers and ties to the Phantom Zone, and with horrific mummy-inspired design, it fights perfectly with the Halloween theme they were going for.
The main take away from his book is Clark’s reunion with his childhood friend, Krypto. Lost to him when he was still a baby, Clark has vague memories of his companion. When Xa-Du tried to reached through the Phantom Zone and to hurt his family, Krypto jumped in to defend them which ended with him being trapped in the Phantom Zone. While they had thought he had been lost forever, Krypto has always been by Clark’s side – during his journey through space to Earth, while he was growing up and even when he was battling enemies as Superman. A faithful dog he has always been even when his friend could not see him.
Morrison and Foreman (and Brad Walker) did an amazing job with this story. The story is beautifully written and the artwork compliments it perfectly – a lot of it has to do with the use of narrative boxes. Most of the story is told through the artwork with these narrative boxes to give us context, enough of which for us readers to have a clear sense of what’s going on. The Phantom Dog is without a doubt a standout book/story in the Action Comics (Vol 2) series, and possibly in the New 52 era.