These just out…

From DC Comics, Scooby Doo #155, which features two tales by yours truly, “Over the Boardwalk!” and “It’s A Mystery!”, a Velma solo story, both illustrated by Fabio Laguna.

And from my pals at Moonstone Comics, The Phantom: Generations #10, featuring a prose story illustrated by Joe Bucco. Just to give you a taste, here’s the first few hundred words…

“A King’s Ransom”

© King Features Syndicate, Inc.

“Speak,” commanded Nader Shah, king of the Great Iranian Empire. “What have you brought me?”

“Riches,” said Darius, a dark eyed captain in the Shah’s army and husband to one of his daughters. “Sent in search of treasure to fill the royal coffers, we…”

“I know what I commanded,” the Shah snapped. “I ask again: What have you brought me?”

“This, most respected father,” the young soldier proclaimed with pride, pulling back the clothe to uncover the prize he knew would secure his future in court. He revealed on the litter beside him twin glistening, gold statues, each as big as a young man and encrusted with jewels and gemstones that shimmered brilliantly in the sun-washed royal chamber.

“From the legendary land of Bangalla in Africa,” said the youth, “did we wrest these and other treasures from…”

The Shah’s awe crumbled into despair, his vision of refreshing the Persian treasury depleted by his wars of conquest with this prize gone.

“Are you mad, Darius?” the old Shah thundered. “To invite the wrath of the Ghost? No! Take it away…no treasure is worth the ruin rained upon those who defy Bangalla’s protector.”

“He is but myth, my lord…” Darius said.

“He is not myth. He is doom and death and when he comes, boy,” hissed the Shah, “be certain the Phantom comes for you!”

I am, at last truly a ghost who walks.

The idea rose, unbidden, in his head, a dry, papery whisper of a thought he pretended not to hear. Such thoughts came from the darkest part of the soul, the deepest well of fear that would, if he paid it heed, whimper I surrender and let him die. Die now, rather than trudge on across endless sand and unbearable heat and a thirst so deep he might have wept had he but the tears in him, suffering another day, perhaps two, but no more, before death claimed him anyway. If his end was inevitable, out here, lost and sick beyond hope in the fiery Hell that was the great Persian desert, why persevere and prolong the agony?


Now. Fall to the burning sands. Let them consume you with their heat.

Die now, oh, Ghost Who Walks. None can say you did not do your duty, that you did not fulfill your destiny.

Sleep, Ghost, said the whisper. None would deny you your rest.

A breeze like a blast from a smith’s forge swept past him and stirred the long, loose jallabiya he wore over a suit of purple, played with the headdress that covered a face also hidden beneath hood and mask.

None would deny you your rest, said the breeze and the sands made to dance by its passing agreed.

“Farewell, dearest Anneliese,” the Phantom said, though no sound passed from his parched throat and lips as he dropped to his knees.

His eyes lifted with effort to the sky made so hot and bright by the blazing sun that the blue was all but banished from overhead, the air tinged gold. The shimmering curtain of golden light danced and flitted about before him. It swirled into shapes and forms, it became Anneliese and then it was his children and in the next moment, the face of Nuhalla, his friend since ever he could remember.

None would deny you your rest.

Anneliese. Kit. Kirsten.


They would deny you this. They would see you fight on, even with hope gone. They would do no less.

Without the Ghost Who Walks, Nuhalla would die.

“Later,” the Phantom whispered to the soothing voice of rest and reason. On legs barely able to hold him, he rose and took the next step.


And, swaying from side to side, collapsed on his face in the hot, welcoming sand.

A cool wave washed across the Phantom, as though the earth had split beneath him to release a river of refreshing waters to wash his soul to Heaven while his body gave itself back to the dust from whence it had sprang. He was not surprised his suffering was done, merely sad for it to end this way, not falling in battle against an insurmountable foe but stumbling to an ignoble end, the victim of bad mapmaking and a crooked camel dealer who sold him a sick animal that perished two days into his desert trek.

And sad for Nuhalla, to whom the Phantom would need explain his failure to return the stolen idols of Power and Fate to the priests of Bangalla when they met, soon, in the hereafter.

“Is he alive?”

Sad for the wife he must leave and the children he must desert, yet knowing little Kit would, one day soon, carry on the line, and lovely Kirsten…Lord knows she had spirit and courage enough to do the same were such a life as this woman’s work.

“He’s breathing, I think.”

Another wave washed over him and the Phantom turned his face to the cooling waters.

A sharp pain in his ribs sent him gasping.

but my suffering is done

A rough hand grabbed him by the chin and fetid breath replaced the wash of the water on his face. Had he misjudged his ultimate destination?

“He’s alive. A European, by the look of him,” growled a voice in Arabic. “Kick him again.”

He had.

“What European wears such garments?”

He was alive.

“What European wanders around the desert without water or a camel, eh?” and they all began to laugh.

“A foolish one,” croaked the Phantom through his still parched throat and opened his eyes.

He was laying in the shadow of a silk lean-to erected in the sand to offer shade to his rescuers while they paused on their journey to consider his situation. There were seven of them, dark men of all shapes and sizes, swaddled in the loose, flowing colorful robes cinched by belts weighed down by swords and knives and headdress of Bedouin tribesmen. Their camels, large, awkward-looking animals saddled in fine leather and embroidered clothe, stood nearby chewing and oblivious to the brutality of their environment.

“He speaks!” roared one, a big man with a black beard and dark, dancing eyes as he laughed in delight.

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