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Comic Book / The Great Phantom Peril

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"The Great Phantom Peril" is a Superman storyline published in Action Comics #471-473 (1977) and authored by Cary Bates and Curt Swan. It is notable for introducing one of main Phantom Zoners who is also one of Superman's few prominent female enemies.

As he is returning home, Superman finds a stranger poking around his apartment. As Clark Kent, he confronts the intruder, who turns out to be his new neighbor, an old man called Jackson Porter who claims the door was open when he came over to borrow a hammer. Mr. Porter seems kind and harmless, even if a bit delusional -he insists his deceased wife's ghost talks to him-, but Clark got nearly killed by his former next-door neighbor recently, so he can't help but wonder whether Mr. Porter will not be just so problematic. Nonetheless, Superman has bigger troubles to deal with right now: some weird and super-powerful specter is wandering around Metropolis, causing chaos and disappearing as it pleases.

Superman soon confronts the specter and learns his mysterious enemy is Faora Hu-Ul, one of most dangerous Kryptonians to ever live, who has found a way to get out of the Phantom Zone at regular intervals. Superman grows worried, and he would be even more alarmed if he knew Faora is impersonating the ghost of Mr. Porter's wife to trick the man into stealing one alien artifact from Clark Kent's apartment.

Eventually, Mr. Porter is fooled into using the stolen relic to fully release Faora from the Phantom Zone. Now she is free to enact a sinister scheme which not even Superman appears to be able to stop.


  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: After apparently driving Superman out of Metropolis, Faora breaks into the Fortress of Solitude and crushes the Phantom Zone Projector so nobody can get Superman out of the Zone.
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: Faora beats the Zoners up to force them to accept her as their leader.
  • Bad Liar: When he gets caught poking around Clark Kent's apartment, Mr. Porter claims he wanted to borrow a hammer and slipped in when he found the door open. However, Clark knows he locked his door.
  • Book Ends: In the second chapter, the narration box notes that "We started this episode at the Fortress of Solitude— and that's where we end it!"
  • Bring It: When engaging the "specter" for the first time, Superman notes it is standing still with arms akimbo, as if it were daring him to attack.
    Superman: "Still standing there... As if taunting me to come at him again!"
  • Bus Full of Innocents: Superman saves several cars full of innocent passengers which were being juggled by an uncaring Faora.
  • By the Hair: As Faora is snooping around the Fortress of Solitude, a Superman robot lunges from behind, grabs her hair and pulls backwards. Nonetheless, Faora tosses him off her easily.
  • The Cameo: Batman and Green Lantern Hal Jordan make a brief appearance in the final issue to play Mr. Exposition.
  • Car Fu: At the beginning of their first confrontation, Faora juggles three cars around, not caring about the people stuck inside. Superman quickly picks two of them and cushions the third vehicle's fall with a blow of Super-Breath.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Averted. Not even Superman can keep thirty Phantom Zoners at bay for long before being overwhelmed and pinned down.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Superman brings Mr. Xavier's scheme up, placing this story after Who Took the Super out of Superman?.
    • A footnote reminds readers that Lois mastered Klurkor in Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #18.
  • Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: Telepathic variant. When Faora demands to know how Superman figured out her plan, the Man of Steel retorts she was broadcasting it telepathically during their battle. Superman guesses she did not realize she was "leaking" information because her psychic powers were unknowingly amped during her stay in the Zone.
    Faora Hu-Ul: "Now, before you die, Superman, grant me one answer— What tipped you off about my dimensional phaser ahead of time so you could rig up that disguise of yours?"
    Superman: Why, you did, Faora! Those psychic powers of yours, plus years of telepathic palaver in the Zone, upped your mental abilities without you knowing about it! You were telepathically broadcasting your plans to me all through our first battle!"
  • Dog Pile of Doom: Half a dozen Phantom Zoners jump on Superman at once, but he slips out among them, circles back and rolls over the group as a human bowling ball.
  • Dynamic Akimbo: When Superman first engages her, Faora just stands up with her arms akimbo, daring him to fight her.
  • Enemy Mine: During the final battle, Faora commands the Zoners to attack Superman. None of them like being ordered around by her, but the Zoners hate Superman more than they despise Faora.
    Faora Hu-Ul: "Hear me, males! Kill him where he stands!"
    Kru-El: "We're obeying Faora?"
    Dru-Zod: "Destroying Superman must now be our first priority!"
  • Evil Gloating: Faora's calculated and brutal poking of Superman's pressure points leaves his body paralyzed, but instead of striking the coup de grâce she drags Superman around while going on about how great of a martial artist she is and how skillfully she manipulated gullible Mr. Porter. For when she finally decides to give the killing blow, Superman's paralysis has worn off.
    Faora: "A quick puff, Superman— So I can keep you just where I want you on a cushion of Super-Breath as I tell you about Dyr-Ynn— the dreaded "Phantom Touch of Death"! All it takes is a precise force applied to a secret pinpoint spot on your body— and zip! You're dead"!"
    Superman: (thinking) "Glad the braggart's taking time to explain all this! The effects of her last blow are wearing off—!"
  • Evil Is Petty:
    • After the Phantom Zoners are released from the Zone they utilize their godlike powers to destroy a Superman statue and engage in other acts of petty urban vandalism.
    • After apparently running Superman out of his city, Faora amuses herself by flying around at super-sonic speed and shattering every window in Metropolis.
  • Evil Plan: Faora builds a device which causes humans and Phantom Zoners to swap places. Once the Kryptonian criminals are free to roam around the planet while the whole of mankind is trapped in the Zone, she beats her fellow inmates and declares herself their queen.
  • Final Boss Preview: Faora Hu-Ul beats Superman so badly during their first engagement that he is forced to flee in order to rethink his strategy.
  • Glass-Shattering Sound: Faora kicks Superman's neck from behind, forcing him to cry out in pain. His shout's soundwaves accidentally shatter an unfortunate skyscraper's windows.
  • Green and Mean: Faora wears a pale-green and white skintight outfit.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: Superman grabs and uses Jax-Ur like a throwing hammer to beat up other Phantom Zoners.
  • Henpecked Husband: Considering Mr. Porter moves out and reluctantly steals a relic because he believes his wife so commands it, it is clear who wore the pants in the Porter marriage.
  • Human Hammer-Throw: Jax-Ur is the first Phantom Zoner to attack Superman. Superman easily catches his fist, swings him around and throws Jax into his partners.
  • I Know Karate: Faora Hu-Ul warns Superman she knows Horu-Kanu before proceeding to knock him around.
  • Impact Silhouette: As he is fighting the Zoners, Superman is slammed into the street, leaving a perfectly Superman-shaped hole in the asphalt.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: After getting them out of the Zone, Faora greets her fellow inmates by embedding psychic bolts through their chests. However, she holds back to "merely" cause them unbearable pain instead of killing them.
  • In Medias Res: The third issue opens with a page showing the Phantom Zoners vandalizing Metropolis. The next pages narrate how and why they escaped from the Zone.
  • Intangibility: The cover of Action Comics #471 shows Superman's fist going through Faora's spectral form.
  • Latex Perfection: In order to not be immediately recognized by the Zoners, Superman disguises himself as a blond, mustached man. Nobody figures his identity out until he removes his mask.
  • The Lost Lenore: Jackson Porter's wife, Kathleen, passed away fifteen years ago, and Faora Hu-Ul predated on and exploited his grief and loneliness by posing as her ghost. First, she talked him into moving next to Clark Kent, and then she tricked him into stealing an alien relic. As Supergirl points out, Mr. Porter was taken advantage of so easily because he feels incredibly lonely.
  • Man on Fire: Subverted. As fighting the Phantom Zone inmates, Superman shoots his eye beams and apparently sets several of them on fire. As they are panicking, another Zoner shouts it is only a visual trick, and Superman is merely burning up the oxygen around them.
  • Mercy Kill: Faora states Superman should have let her kill him because it would be a kinder fate than being trapped in the Zone.
    Faora: "He'll soon realize his death would have been the merciful way out!"
  • Microts: Superman learns that Faora was tried and convicted on the 52nd of Belyuth, in the year 10,000.
  • Mindlink Mates: Subverted. Faora uses her telepathic powers to pose as Mr. Porter's deceased wife, and she creates a psychic link between them which is strong enough to allow inter-dimensional communication.
  • More Deadly Than the Male: Faora Hu-ul is a cunning, ruthless killing machine due to mastering a Kryptonian martial art known as Horu-Kanu and the classic Kryptonian powerset plus telepathy and electrokinesis. All male Phantom Zoners fear her, and even Superman is incapable of defeating her in a straight brawl.
  • Neck Lift: Faora overhears Steve Lombard saying someone should pound on her. She promptly grabs his collar and lifts him to pound on him.
  • No-Sell: Subverted. At the beginning, nothing appears to be able to harm the "specter". It stands still while Superman lunges at its body -and gets bounced off backwards- and punches its head uselessly. When the specter's true nature is revealed, Superman understands why his blows were ineffectual: not knowing he was facing another Kryptonian, he was holding back.
    Superman: "Judging from his show of strength, I'll have to hit him with enough force to flatten a locomotive— Huh? My punch backfired— sent me sprawling..."
  • Offscreen Inertia: At the end of the story, Jackson Porter has gone voluntarily into the Phantom Zone. He was never seen again, so it is not known whether he got out of there or remained there and died when Mr. Mxyzptlk destroyed the Zone in DC Comics Presents #97.
  • Off with His Head!: As she is exploring the Fortress of Solitude, Faora easily slaps a Superman's robot's head off his body.
  • Oh, Crap!: Faora freaks out when she discovers her plan has somehow failed, and Superman is out of the Zone.
    Faora Hu-Ul: "Great Krypton! No! Not you!"
  • Power Glows: Clark Kent's artifact stolen by Mr. Porter -a figurine from planet Renzil- gives off a bright pink glow, a hint of the powerful dimensional energies stored inside.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: Superman is not impressed when Jax-Ur rushes to engage him.
    Jax-Ur: (throwing his fist) "All those years in the Zone— I always dreamed of a chance like this!
    Superman: (catching his fist) "One thing about all those years in the Zone, Jax-Ur— They didn't do much for you in the way of physical conditioning!"
  • Pressure Point: Faora Hu-Ul likes to use these techniques. Since she has Super Strength, they can even work on Superman, to the point that she forces him to run away.
  • Punch Catch: Jax-Ur tries to punch Superman, but the Man of Steel easily catches his fist.
  • Samus Is a Girl: Superman assumes the strange and super-powerful spectral figure unleashing chaos all over Metropolis is a male being until the mists surrounding the "ghost" vanish, revealing it is a woman.
  • Serial Killer: Back on Krypton, Faora was sentenced to three-hundred years in the Zone for murdering twenty-three people.
  • Strong and Skilled: In addition to the Kryptonian powerset plus several extra powers, Faora Hu-Ul is an extremely dangerous martial artist able to take on Superman himself.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • Faora does not feel concerned when Superman suddenly flies away because: "Not a single person on Earth can avoid becoming the helpless victim of my master plan. And that includes Superman!" Meanwhile, Superman was taking steps to foil her "master plan".
    • When Steve Lombard states you cannot beat someone by poking some silly pressure point, Lois decides to demonstrate their effectiveness on him:
      Lois Lane: "Notices the two extended fingers! I think this Faora overcame Superman with a secret fighting technique... One of the Kryptonian equivalents of Karate or Aikido! Not Klurkor— I know that art myself— but some other kind!"
      Jimmy Olsen: Of course! She knew the pressure points where she could inflict the most damage!"
      Steve Lombard: "Come off it, guys— If you expect me to believe one measly little pressure point could— Hey! Owwwwww!"
      Lois Lane: "I picked up this measly little trick from a policewoman pal of mine! If I used Klurkor or Karate— It would hurt even more!"
      Steve Lombard: "Okay, okay, I give! Just let go!"
  • Thrown Down a Well: At the end, Superman sends Faora Hu-Ul and all Kryptonian rogues back into the Phantom Zone.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Steve Lombard, the resident straw misogynist, disses Faora, the resident and super-powerful straw misandrist, where she clearly can hear him. Faora promptly decides to chop Steve in half, and the only reason she does not go through with it is that Steve -together with all humans- was sent into the Zone before her blow connected.
  • Trespassing to Talk: Superman returns to his apartment and finds Mr. Porter has slipped into and is snooping among his stuff.
  • Underestimating Badassery:
    • Faora does not take Superman's might, combat skills and fighting experience seriously, and she wastes time gloating instead of finishing him off at the first chance. When he flies away, Faora doesn't bother chasing after him because she is certain that "not a single person on Earth can avoid becoming the helpless victim of [her] master plan. And that includes Superman!" Meanwhile, Superman was taking steps to completely foil her plans.
    • When Superman flees, everyone believes he fears Faora. Even Supergirl, who should know better, thinks he has gone into the Zone out of fear, although to her credit she thinks something is amiss).
    • As the Galaxy Network crew is reviewing tapes of the battle between Superman and Faora, Steve Lombard expresses disbelief at Superman being defeated by a woman. Lois Lane -who is a Klurkor practitioner- guesses Faora knows some type of martial art which uses pressure points to disable and hurt her adversary. Then she demonstrates it on Lombard.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Faora chides Superman for hitting one woman. Nonetheless, her lecture is quite ineffectual since she is a serial killer who is able to -and later does- beat him up.
    Faora: "My, my, I'm surprised at you, Superman... I always thought you were a gentleman! After all, just because I'm from Krypton and invulnerable like you— that's still no excuse to hit a woman!"
  • The Worf Effect: Faora quickly establishes her villain credentials by forcing Superman to flee, and later bringing all Phantom Zoners to their knees in a single attack.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Faora mocks Superman for hitting a woman when he engages her. Since she is a Kryptonian who can give back as good as she gets, Superman hardly cares.
    Faora: "My, my, I'm surprised at you, Superman... I always thought you were a gentleman! After all, just because I'm from Krypton and invulnerable like you— that's still no excuse to hit a woman!"
  • You Are Worth Hell: At the end, Faora is sent back into the Phantom Zone; and Mr. Porter, who has been permanently deluded into believing Faora is his wife Katie due to the Zoner's mental manipulations, requests to be sent into the Zone so he can be with his "wife" again.