For 24 generations the Phantom has been a mystical figure who protects the jungles of Africa with the help of the Bantu tribe. In reality, he is a family of superheroes, each passing on the mantle and responsibility of being the Phantom to their son, making it seem as if there was one Phantom who had lived for centuries. Now, in 2040, the Phantom has moved to a new jungle - Metropia, one of the surviving homes of mankind after the resource wars. The 24th Phantom is Kit Walker, and he continues the Phantom's legacy in the struggle against Maximum Inc., a mega-corporation determined to salvage a small part of the world even if they must destroy the rest to do it. At the same time, the new Phantom must deal with other challenges, including the terrorists of the free orbital movement, the mystery of his father's death, various rogue agents with their own agendas, and Sagan Cruz - his girlfriend who is part of a special police unit charged with hunting down the Phantom. Written by
The second episode begins with a "recorded" voiceover that is preceded by a sound effect originally created by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop for the UK radio series "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy". It is the sound the Guide makes before responding to a question. See more »
Given that "Phantom" creator Lee Falk was never that wild about this show, "Phantom 2040" adhered as close to Falk's formula (hero mantle is passed down from father to son for over 500 years) as possible. Also, the futuristic updating helped garner viewers who were oblivious to the fact that The Phantom is widely viewed in the U.S. as an archaic hero, at least to those only peripherally familiar with the character.
Sci-Fi writers Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens managed to update the legend of The Phantom, throwing in a rather interesting twist; the mantle of "The Ghost Who Walks" was not able to be passed on from the 23rd Phantom to his heir, as he was presumably killed in an accident 16 years prior, making Kit Walker, Jnr. only 2 years old at the time, therefore completely unaware of his father's activities.
18 year-old Kit Walker, Jnr. has been sheltered by his Aunt Heloise (the 23rd Phantom's sister) from the Walker Family Legacy in hopes that the first Walker male in almost 500 years will have the chance at a normal life. When the 23rd Phantom's former comrade-in-arms, Guran, appears from Africa to ensure that Kit knows his family's history, the sparks begin to fly.
The young Kit at first dismisses his responsibility, then acquiesces when he realises the import of The Phantom's work at stamping out piracy, greed, & cruelty, this time in the form of the E-Ville corporation, Maximum, Inc.
The story lines were, for the most part, serialised, an oddity for an animated series, but "Phantom 2040" is much more than an average animated series. This could easily have been a live-action series & it's encouraging to see writers take creative risks like they did here. The series never talks down to its audience, & the writers hired for this project serve to prove that: Marc Scott Zicree & veteran Sci-Fi author Harlan Ellsion top the list of this well-written show.
While this series only lasted 2 seasons, it did have a beginning, middle, & ending, although I suspect the Reeves-Stevenses were hoping to go into a 3rd season, which would've been welcomed with open arms if the writing had stayed as consistent & interesting as it did throughout its 2-year run.
While other series received more acclaim than "Phantom 2040" (the most blatant ripoff being WB's "Batman Beyond"), few were as stylish, ("Aeon Flux" creator Peter Chung did the character design) & even fewer were as tightly plotted. Even though this series never got the accolades it deserves / deserved, at least it got made, it was well-made, & proves that the audience can watch a serious Sc-Fi animated series without being pandered to.
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