Phantom 2040 is an animated science fiction television series loosely based on the comic strip hero The Phantom, created by Lee Falk. The central character of the series is said to be the great-grandson of the comic strip character. The unusual character design was made by Peter Chung of Æon Flux fame.
Phantom 2040 is one of history's few animated series to focuse more on intelligent storylines and character development than action sequences, although the latter was also featured. Based on Lee Falk's long-running (since 1936) The Phantom comic strip, the series sent the "Ghost Who Walks" into the not-too-distant future.
In the year 2040, environmental disasters and the economic Resource Wars of the early 21st century had decimated the fragile ecological balance of an Earth once teeming with life. Everywhere, the privileged and wealthy continued to thrive in expensive real estate that towered above the suffering masses. The victims of Earth’s misfortune had been forced to survive on scavenged refuse from the past on the mangled streets of forlorn city-states.
In Metropia, the largest and most powerful of the city-states, the powerful corporation Maximum Inc. had commandeered armies of robotic Biots to create a cold, steely urban center, consisting of huge, residential towers intertwined with TubeTrain tunnels. Maximum had plans to build Cyberville—an immense survival shelter where only the wealthiest and most elite humans would retreat to when Earth finally succumbed to its slowly deteriorating state.
The only hope for the survival of humanity was the Ghost Jungle—thousands of square miles of mutated vegetation that could be the planet's salvation. This secret source of life was submerged beneath Metropia where no one could find it, but fortunately, college student Kit Walker Jr. had been chosen by fate to save the world, donning the black mask and purple suit of his people’s savior, the 24th Phantom.
The role of the Phantom had been passed on from father to son since the 1500s, leading the world to believe that the Phantom was a single being. Kit, the 24th in the line, was young, unsure, and inexperienced, but he found within him the courage and might to battle the evil that threatened to destroy the Earth.
Phantom 2040 debuted in 1994 to rave reviews, though it survived only 35 episodes before it was relegated to weekend repeats in 1996. The show won praise for its subtle teaching of such values as individuality, freedom, and the volatility of humanity.
- Kit Walker The 24th Phantom, Kit was not trained for the role like his ancestors were. His father died when he was still a baby, and he grew up not knowing about his heritage. When Guran tells him about the Phantom on his eighteenth birthday, he is initially disbelieving, but takes on the role. His equipment includes a stealth suit for invisibility, a wristband that contains a powerful computer ("analytical"), and another that contains a smart-rope. He also had a multi-purpose vehicle named "Hero", after the 21st Phantom's horse. Voiced by Scott Valentine.
- Guran Kit's mentor, whose family have been aiding the Phantom for generations. Like Kit the name "Guran" is passed down from father to son. Voiced by J. D. Hall.
- Jack Archer A scientist and professor at Kit's school. One of the few who knows the Phantom's true identity. He eventually opened his own detective agency. Voiced by Alan Oppenheimer.
- Tran A young cyber-surfer, who also knows Kit is the Phantom. Voiced by Dustin Nguyen.
- Sagan Cruz A Metropia law enforcement officer, who is attracted to Kit, but is unaware of his dual identity until discovering both Kit and Heloise in The Phantom's lair. She is d is skeptical about the Phantom's motives she learns to trust him. She has a cyborg police dog named D.V.L. (a reference to the 21st Phantom's wolf, Devil).
- Aunt Heloise Kit's only living relative, Heloise is the daughter of the 21st Phantom. Voiced by Carrie Snodgress. She kept the truth from Kit, hoping he could lead a normal life but realizes it his destiny to become the Phantom.
- Rebecca Madison The series villian, head of Maximum Inc. and widow of the 23rd Phantom's killer, Maxwell Maddison. Her plans to turn the whole of Metropia into her private kingdom are foiled by the Phantom. Voiced by Margot Kidder.
- Maxwell Madison Jr. Rebecca's son, whose intelligence is belied by his laziness and disinterest in almost everything. When he does have an opinion on something, he presents it as coming from his cat, Baudelaire. Voiced by Jeff Bennett.
- Graft Rebecca Madison's main enforcer, a cyborg who wishes to kill the Phantom with the promise that doing so will mean Rebecca cloning new arms and legs for him and can finally return to a normal life. Voiced by Ron Perlman in the first season, and Richard Lynch in the second.
- Doctor Jak A cynical TV journalist who reports the Phantom's activities with a flip spin. Voiced by Mark Hamill.
- Generation Unto Generation (part 1)
- Generation Unto Generation (part 2)
- The Sum of the Parts
- Fire and I.C.E.
- Reflections of Glory
- Shadows from the Past
- The Good Mark
- Ghost in the Machine
- Dark Orbit (part 1)
- Dark Orbit (part 2)
- The Biot In Red
- The Gauntlet
- Three Into One
- Life Lessons
- The Magician
- Swifter, Higher, Faster
- Lasers In The Jungle
- Down The Line
- Control Group
- A Boy And His Cat
- Rite Of Passage
- The World Is My Jungle
- The Ties That Bind
- The Woman In The Moon
- Matter Over Mind
- The Sins Of The Father (part 1)
- The Sins Of The Father (part 2)
- The Sacrifice (part 1)
- The Sacrifice (part 2)
- The Second Time Around
- The Furies
- Moments Of Truth
- The Whole Truth
Phantom 2040 also came out on Sega Genesis, Game Gear and Super NES, and like the animated series, it got very positive reviews. It was possible to play as both the Phantom and his alter ego, Kit Walker. The game had over 20 different endings, all depending on the choices the player made when progressing through the story.
"Phantom 2040" was also adapted into a comic book series, by Marvel Comics in 1995. Only four issues were published. The stories were only loosely based on the TV-series, and had a different tone than the dark, complicated animated show. The series were written by Peter Quinones, pencilled by Steve Ditko, and inked by Bill Reinhold. Each issue featured a free poster, drawn by people like John Romita Sr.
Availability on VHS and DVDEdit
Many episodes of the series have been released on VHS and DVD, but a definitive collection is yet to come. A DVD called "Phantom 2040: The Ghost Who Walks" became available in late 2004, and includes the first five episodes of the series edited into a "movie". Many other episodes have been released on VHS.