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Revenge of the Phantom

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Revphant

Glinke confronts the ghost of Bill.

"Revenge of the Phantom" is a story which was printed in issue 818 of Commando in February 1974 and later reprinted in issues 2188 (June 1988) and 4413 (3 August 2011). It was written by Alan Lomas and drawn by John Ridgway and, unusually for a Commando story, has a strong supernatural element.

Plot (spoilers)Edit

A tank troop led by Lieutenant Rex Faulkner makes its way through Italy in World War II. One of the tanks is destroyed by a German shell and subsequently replaced by a new tank, its crew led by Sergeant Bill Tizzard. Asked to pick a name for the tank from a list, Bill decides on "Sorcerer".

It is revealed that Rex and Bill had previously fought together: Bill's irresponsibility had resulted the loss of his tank and crew, and Rex risked his own life to save him.

Meanwhile, Major Stolle of the SS and his band of Nazis - which includes a superstitious Transylvanian volunteer nicknamed Rumania - are given the mission of disguising themselves in British uniform and pretending to be an an injured patrol. Their ruse works, and they lure in the Sorcerer before trapping its crew at gunpoint. Ignoring the Geneva convention the Nazis execute their captives; Bill, before being killed, vows revenge.

Elsewhere, another group of Germans, led by Unteroffizier Carl Fleishmann, lie in wait to ambush two more British tanks - including Rex's. However, they find themselves attacked by an unexpected thrid tank, and their bullets pass through it. In attacking the mysterious tank they give away their position, and are driven away by the other tanks. Rex and his cohorts press forward and come across the wreck of the Sorcerer and the bodies of its crew.

Fleischmann's superiors dismiss his story of the mysterious Sherman, and the Sorcerer is replaced with another new tank.

The Germans lay another trap by sending a tank into a small village, which the British are set to pass through. But the first British tank that it comes across is the phantom of the Sorcerer; the ghostly figure of Bill emerges and points at the German tank's gun. The gun misfires, and the German tank is destroyed.

Tales of the ghostly tank reach the German camp. Rumania believes the stories, but Glinke, the Feldwebel, does not. To express his derision he pours a botle of alcohol over his head, exclaiming "I prefer my spirits in a bottle any day".

The drunken Glinke then heads outside, boasting that he will take on the Sorcerer himself. Suddenly, the Sorcerer appears, and Bill emerges from the hatch. Glinke fires his gun but the tank vanishes, and the flash from the gun ignites Glinke's alcohol-soaked clothing, killing him.

The incident damages the Germans' morale, which falls even further when Rumania conducts a tarot reading and draws the card of death. The following morning Rex comes across a group of German deserters from an observation post, who would rather hand themselves in as prisoners than fight the phantom tank.

Their story gives Rex an idea. Using luminous paint, he has his tank painted as the ghostly Sorcerer and heads for the German line. Along the way he unknowingly approaches a minefield - but the real Sorcerer, invisible to him, appears and causes a rockfall, detonating the mines and saving his life.

When Rex reaches the German line the guards flee in terror from his glowing tank; Rex then proceeds to destroy the Germans' anti-tank guns. The Germans are thrown into such a panic that their officer Stolle is forced to start shooting his own men to keep them in line.

Stolle realises that Rex's tank is not a real ghost and sets a trap for it, placing a beckoning lamp in the window of the base and pretending that he and his men are asleep. Rumania warns him that it was his death predicted by the tarot cards, but Stolle responds by shooting him.

Stolle and his band man a tank and lie in wait for Rex. A glowing tank arrives - but it is the real ghost. Bill's figure points at Stolle's gun, and when it fires, the tank explodes. Other German tanks begin firing at the Sorcerer, and when Rex arrives he is surprised to see the Germans apparently firing at thin air; he and his men then destroy the remaining Nazi tanks.

His mission accomplished Rex heads off, and sees the figure of Bill in the distance. Dismissing it as a trick of the light, he gives a salute anyway.

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