The Phantom Unmasked: America’s First Superhero

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The Phantom Unmasked by Kevin Patrick is a well-researched and documented treatise on the first American masked superhero. Using extensive research, interviews, and primary source materials, Patrick explores the Phantom’s origins, his spread to international renown, and the staying power of one hero’s dynasty.

The first note about this book is that it is very much an academic work rather than an exploration of the Phantom designed for popular consumption. The works cited and notes are extensive, there are copious in-text references, and the book contains a lot of information and data presented in an unbiased and matter-of-fact manner. This unfortunately means that it is frequently dry and could stand a little bit of Patrick’s voice to make it easier to read. Thankfully, though, this also means that Patrick does not veer away from some of the harder topics associated with the Phantom, such as the presence of racial prejudices in the earlier comics and how the comic has evolved over the years to help mitigate those problems. I was impressed with the equitable presentation of the harder topics and his acknowledgement of the issue, as a lot of texts on early superheroes tend to obfuscate or dismiss similar situations.

If you enjoy reading up on the history of superheroes, this is definitely a good book for you to pick up. It contains a lot of information about the Phantom’s origin and spread, which helps to inform the whole rise of superheroes as a whole, both in America and abroad.

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Star Count 4/5
Format Trade
Page Count 262 pages
Publisher University Of Iowa Press
Publish Date 2017-Nov-15
ISBN 9781609385002 Buy this Book
Issue December 2017
Category Pop Culture


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