Review contains spoilers for those who haven't yet read The Phantom Stranger #0
Judas Iscariot is doomed by the Council of Wizards ("a powerful and officious gathering of Magicks and Mages assembled to pass sentence against those deemed guilty of upsetting the cosmic order of the world") to "walk this land until the debt for your(his) sin is paid." Powered by what appears to be the robe of Christ, Judas, now dubbed The Phantom Stranger, is finally given a specific mission from on high after a few millennia of wandering. It's a mission that is 2000 plus years in the making though, so it should be a doozy. It turns out that it is, and it involves a feisty red-headed cop named James Corrigan.
In an effort that is much, much better than the one put forth in the recently cancelled OMAC, DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan Didio pens the New 52 origin story of not just The Phantom Stranger, but another one of DC Comics' most storied, and sorely missed, supernatural heroes. While the action moves along incredibly fast and we don't get much by way of back story on James Corrigan, (whom long term DC Comics readers will recognize as the future Spectre), the issue is overall well plotted and written. It also establishes both the characters effectively and concisely. There isn't much mystery behind their origins, but that doesn't mean that Didio doesn't set up a few mysteries for the two to face and overcome either in the
Brent Anderson does an excellent job bringing both The Phantom Stranger and The Spectre to life, literally, with his artwork. His artwork is pretty straightforward and doesn't involve much panel experimentation or unique visual effects. A beam of light represents the arrival of beings from on high, and The Spectre looks just like he did in some of his earliest adventures. Crisp, clean, and concise, Anderson's art reflects Didio's crisp, clean, and concise storytelling.
While I would rather not have had The Spectre's introduction to the New 52 be a subplot of The Phantom Stranger's origin story, I'm nevetheless glad to see that Corrigan/The Spectre is going to be a part of the New 52. A character that isn't quite as popular or well known, like The Spectre, is a character that is perfect for a new writer with new ideas to work with. Maybe DC Comics can revive some of that groundbreaking storytelling that they were so full of at one point with a new take on The Spectre. Only time will tell...