In this highly interesting 224th daily story deftly scripted by Tony DePaul and excellently illustrated by Paul Ryan, the renegade Wambesi killer seeks to unleash a new wave of terror on Bangalla, only to meet his match in the Phantom.
Most adventure strip stories featuring recurring encounters between the protagonist and a villainous foil often degenerate into a festival of repetitive fisticuffs. Not here! The story opens with an all too brief encounter in which the Phantom quickly subdues a physically weakened and sick Chatu. As the story progresses, we learn that the Python seems to be the victim of his own deviousness and is infected with the deadly Ebola virus in an attempt to harness it for destructive gain. And the Phantom himself might have been exposed to the threat!
The Phantom’s struggle in this story is against his own convictions and moral compass when faced with an apparent Hobson’s choice. When Guran whips up a limited batch of a cure for the deadly virus, the Phantom administers it to Chatu — in order to uphold the principles of justice he stands for. The title of the story is apt. The Python now loathes his existence even more, for he now owes his life only to his most hated enemy’s strong conviction in truth and justice.
As an added bonus, the story presents the strong kinship between Guran and the Phantom. Though conflicted, Guran grudgingly acknowledges the Phantom’s reasons for administering the cure to Chatu. This tale proves beyond a shadow of doubt why the Phantom stands out among other costumed superheroes — “Justice for the Python” is a story with a soul, in the strong tradition of the comic strip which has endured for more than 70 years.
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The daily strip art of 27 December 2008 featured in this post is copyright King Features Syndicate, and is merely presented for informational purposes.