Phantom Volume 2
By Ki-Hoon Lee/Seung-Yup Cho
Reviewed by Brian Henderson
K agrees to work for the anti-corporation organization Athena, mostly because they promise to help his girlfriend recover if he does. He goes off to their training facility in the middle of the desert to prepare to fight against the mega-corporations, still not quite convinced that the people he’s fighting with aren’t just as much terrorists as those they fight against. Unfortunately, the mega-corps discover their secret base and launch an all-out attack to cut off the head of the serpent. K and his fellow trainees are left to defend the base and allow the civilians to escape and finally, K is reunited with Cerebus, the super TC that no one but him can operate.
As I said in my review of the first volume, there are elements very similar to Area 88 and that’s never more clear than when K arrives at the training facility. Not only do they have TCs but they have a wide range of fixed wing fighters that they train in and a very good scene where they’re attacked by F-22 Raptors. I was almost expecting to see them break into a rousing chorus of “How Far to Paradise”.
If it starts to sound far too familiar, that’s because it is. The book is drawn almost exclusively from the giant robot cliche playbook and anyone who has any kind of experience with mecha manga and anime won’t make any new discoveries here. I found myself wondering early on when he would meet the precocious little girl that he’d bond with and it wasn’t long until Lily showed up. Cue the “let’s put the little girl in danger” motif, followed closely by K’s impassioned cry “why do my friends keep dying in front of me!” All that was missing was K using a handgun to shoot fighter jets out of the sky. Oh wait, that was in there too.
I don’t want anyone to think any of this makes Phantom a bad book, it’s not. It’s just not original in any way and doesn’t pretend to be. However, in the absence of originality, it’s still a lot of good robot-on-robot action, filled with drama, just the right amount of humor and if you have the right mindset, all the unoriginal giant robot tropes will make you smile like it’s an inside joke.