By Jim Shepherd

The Witchmen – First appearance of Hoogan/Hoogaan

When Hoogan’s Revenge first appeared in a Frew edition (number 1028 in 1992), there was no supporting editorial explaining how this character etched his name in the Phantom’s Chronicles.

To put everybody in the picture, Hoogan made his debut in the Lee Falk daily strip, The Witchmen, which ran from 10 January through to 8 April in 1972 and first appeared in Frew comic book in number 486 in the latter part of the same year.

In The Witchmen, Hoogan had a slightly different spelling, Hoogaan, but it was the same character, Hoogan/Hoogaan the head of the witchmen.

Early in The Witchmen, an epidemic breaks out and quickly strikes native tribes. President Luaga’s offer to send medical teams into the jungle to help stamp out the epidemic is refused by Hoogan, who convinces other witchmen that Luaga intends to poison all the tribes.

The Phantom makes a secret visit to Witchmen’s Peak where the witchmen meet and tries to talk sense to Hoogan. When he fails, he realizes he is hopelessly outnumbered and makes a dramatic 200 foot dive from the top of Witchmen’s Peak into a deep lake. The Phantom survives the near-impossible plunge and manages to swim underwater and climb out without being seen. Hoogan and his fellow witchmen are convinced he has been killed and word spreads through the jungle that Hoogan has killed The Man Who Cannot Die, The Ghost Who Walks.

Hoogan then reasons that with the Phantom out of the way, he only has to kill President Luaga to become supreme ruler of the territory.

He convinces his followers that he will kill the President by sticking needles into a voodoo doll image of the President.

The Phantom, as Mr. Walker, visits the President and warns him of possible danger, but the President laughs it off. Then, quite dramatically, the President falls seriously ill. The Phantom realizes the illness has nothing to do with the voodoo doll and discovers the President has been poisoned by his own chef, a follower of Hoogan.

That problem solved, Luaga is given the appropriate antidote and the Phantom, whom the witchmen still believe to be dead, makes another visit to Witchmen’s Peak.

This time, he convinces the other witchmen that Hoogan is a fake, humiliates Hoogan by knocking him senseless in front of his followers and takes him into Morristown to face trial.

Hoogan is given a long prison sentence but vows to seek vengeance.

To that end, he spends much of his time in prison studying and preparing himself for his eventual freedom when he plans to overthrow Luaga.

Hoogan also spends plenty of spare time working on a plan to finally kill the Phantom. This is the central point of Hoogan’s Revenge.

The witchmen realizes he is physically incapable of taking out The Ghost Who Walks. Who better than a jungle fighter, trained to kill? Hence his decision to contract a man who knows as many tricks of the trade as the Phantom. Maybe more!

Hoogan’s Revenge is an incredible story!

If you do not have a copy of Frew number 486 (The Witchmen), out reprint numbers have been number 665 and number 875.

Here are a few more points of interest from The Witchmen adventure!

We learn that President Luaga, for reasons which remain unexplained, carries with him at all times, the antidote to the poison contained in the juice of the Banga vine, which his chef used in an attempt to kill him!

The story carries the first reference to Bangalla. Look for the sign on the side of the medical team’s vehicle, ‘Bangalla Medical Team’.

There are also a couple of curious spelling contradictions! The Llonga tribe is also referred to as the ‘Llongo’ and in previous stories, the Ougaan tribe has been called ‘Oogan’ and ‘Oongaan’. Take your pick!