he Nineteenth (grandfather of the
the Phantom of our day) was known as the strongest of all the Phantoms. His
son, the Twentieth,
recalled seeing his father lift a horse and carry it across a brook.
In 1908, the Nineteenth went to Castle Vacul in Carpatia, at the request of
the descendants of the Count of Carpatia. A previous Phantom (the
Seventeenth) had marked the castle with his Good
Mark in 1875, so the Nineteenth was bound by honor to make good his
promise of protection.
The Count had been murdered by a brigand named Black Boris, head of The
Vultures, a Europe criminal organization. Black Boris had disguised himself as
the slain count and ruled the domain as a cruel despot. The castle Vacul had
become the operational base of The Vultures. The Phantom overcame and exposed
Black Boris. Since the count had died without an heir, the Phantom suggested
Carpatia rule itself with a Citizen Council. One of the Council's first acts
was to grant Castle Vacul to the Phantom. To this day it remains one of the
Phantom's secret hideouts in Europe.
The Nineteenth's most famous adventure involved his attempt to rescue a
South American explorer and his daughter who had become lost in the jungles of
Bengalla and captured by a mysterious tribe known as the Rope People. This
tribe lives in the region of the Great Trees whose tops grow tall enough
(almost) to touch the sky. The Rope People have their entire village built
high in these trees, and hardly ever touch the surface of the earth. They are
the greatest builders in the jungle.
Astride his great steed Lightning (sire of Thunder, the Twentieth's horse),
the Nineteenth rode into this dense forest in search of the lost explorer. The
Phantom, too, was captured by the Rope People, who forced him to perform four
feats of strength and endurance in order to prove himself worthy to live.
First, he captured an elephant with his bare hands. Next, he moved an enormous
boulder, bigger than any normal man could manage. Third, and avoided capture
by the Rope People's armed hunters for a full day, although he himself was
unarmed. Finally, he faced the forest giant in a battle to the death, but at
his moment of victory, the Phantom refused to kill his defeated opponent.
Because of his unusual strength and extraordinary nobility, the Phantom so
impressed the Rope People that they granted freedom to all three captives. The
Rope Poeple made a pact of friendship with the Phantom. He became a legend
amongst them, and they carved pictures of his exploits on their walls.
The Nineteenth later married the explorer's daughter, but never recounted
these events to his son, the Twentieth.