Outstanding Review from Amazon 5 Stars:
5.0 out of 5 stars Long-time PHANTOM fans couldn't be happier April 13 2003
By Will Ravenel
To really appreciate the 1996 PHANTOM, it helps to know who he is: whereas other costumed heroes depend heavily on at least one super power and are forever in your face about it, the PHANTOM is the only one who relies on good genes, a white Palomino, a pet wolf, a loyal tribe of pygmy poison people (the Bandar), and a personal fortune to get him past bad times and bad people. He also has this stone fox of a girlfriend (Diana Palmer), a skull throne [THE Skull Throne], and the coolest home on the face of the earth, the Skull Cave.
Many "super"-type heroes have elements of the PHANTOM's lifestyle: Batman, for instance, ripped off the Skull Cave with his Batcave and his wealth; but unlike the PHANTOM Batman isn't saving the world 24 hours a day. Batman clocks in at sundown, works all night, then sleeps it off the next day. Presumably, too, crime in Gotham City isn't always afoot; Batman, as billionaire socialite alter ego Bruce Wayne, mixes it up with the nation's wealthiest 1% whenever possible. And who built the Batplane, the Bat-o-cycle, the Batmobile, the Batboat, etc? If Batman's got his own pygmies building this stuff for him, let's see 'em! And what kind of "hero" ADOPTS a teenage boy (Robin) and votes Republican?
The PHANTOM, on the other hand, would drop everything to come to the aid of some pygmy whose ox ate too many dung beetles. When the Bandar have a bake sale, the PHANTOM bakes a pie. Diana been away for a month and hasn't had a chance to write? The PHANTOM broods for about two seconds and puts on a hat, sunglasses, and a checkered trenchcoat, leaves town for the States, and breaks heads until he finds her and knows she's OK. Is that love or what?
Batman, as I mentioned, definitely uses his wealth to give him an edge over the bad guys in the application of technology to whatever skills he's otherwise developed, such as detective work (including working undercover and surveillance) and crime scene analysis. Batman applies his wealth to his own defense as well--the miniaturized gas masks, the canisters of chemicals in his utility belt to bail him out of an endless array of tight jams, and the aforementioned Bat-vehicles aren't cheap. And when he's not sleeping, eating, socializing, and home-schooling Dick Grayson, he's MAKING REPAIRS on all these things. Presumably. And what's with the smoking jacket?
The PHANTOM, on the other hand, is wealthy like nobody's business. In his Treasure Room he has, among other things: a goblet cut from a single diamond once owned by Alexander the Great; the Golden Fleece; Excalibur; The Holy Grail; and a specially-designed display case with a single, slightly withered apple inside with two bites taken out of it! I think he has a LITTLE LULU collection in there somewhere too. What impresses me, though, is that with all these chests full of precious stones and jewels and coins and all the rest, this guy is as rich as Scrooge McDuck and you'd never know it.
When he's not out in the world actively opposing bad people on behalf of the innocent, he's doing community service or speaking to schoolkids about the rule of law. And when there is NOTHING to do, he sits on that Skull Throne waiting to spring into action. No fancy weaponry, just a couple of pistols and a right-handed punch hard enough to leave the permanent impression of his skull ring on whatever bad guy's jaw it lands on. No "PHANTOM car/boat/bike/copter/plane" either--just one great big white horse he takes everywhere. Now you know.