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Red Phantom

Michael Drown is an actor who starred in vaudeville shows at Gotham City’s Magus Theater circa 1915. The building survives into the 21st century as one of the structures that remains intact after much of the surrounding area was destroyed by a behemoth created by Dr Hugo Strange. In the wake of the destruction the neighborhood was renamed Monster Town.

Acting was the epitome of Drown’s life and he often worked late in the theater despite the warnings from his lover that the theater’s neighboring vicinity became dangerous late at night. Tragically Drown’s lover was correct to be concerned. Late one night Drown encountered a thief who shot and killed him in a robbery; the thief getting away with a pitifully small amount of money. The manner in which Drown’s spirit became bound to the architecture and alls its interior elements as well as his ability to transform into a red hued demon is left to reader imagination by writer Steve Orlando. Over the span of more than 100 years Drown protected the theater and everyone worked or attended a performance from any sort of crime. The Red Phantom name may have been Drown’s idea or a nickname attributed by Gothamites.

In the present day of the Gotham City Monsters mini series the protagonist Melmouth, a character created by Grant Morrison) is resurrected on the Magus’ stage in a ritual that costs an unsuspecting audience their lives. Drown having taken on the role of protecting the theater from crime during the past one hundred years makes the Magus Theater a perfect location for a ritual which Melmouth, the protagonist of the Gotham City Monsters mini series. The desecration and deaths of an unsuspecting audience whose lives became the magical catalyst in the ritual angers Drown. Now that Drown is freed of his ties to the theater, specifically an ornate mirror, he joins several other monster figures, Frankenstein from the SHADE comic, Killer Croc, Lady Clayface, and Orca, to track down and stop Melmouth’s greater plans as well as release Andrew Bennett (I, Vampire) from Melmouth’s thrall.

Orlando creates a kinship between Drown and Lady Clayface; Drown having been captive to the theater’s brick and mortar, a transformation which kept him alive though lonely and separated from his lover (or husband to use Drown’s word), and Lady Clayface who believes her spirit is trapped inside her body which is literally living clay after being transformed by the criminal KOBRA organization.

Drown plays an integral part in defeating Melmouth and imprisoning him within the same mirror Drown in which Drown was bound. With the mission accomplished, Drown returns to the Magus with the intention to repair and renovate the theater and has not been seen since the mini series’ conclusion. A character like Drown offers an opportunity to explore the early 20th century LGBTQA community and or the social changes between the early 1900s and present day Gotham should a writer ever feel inclined.

Steve Orlando gave Drown the ability to change from his human body into a demonic form which he called the Red Phantom.

Drown first appeared in Gotham City Monsters #1 and his relationship with an unnamed man is mentioned in issue #2.

Created by Steve Orlando and Amancay Nahuelpan. Art by Nahuelpan and Trish Mulvihill

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November 5, 2021
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