"Gerontion": Naomi Walker begins her first night as a custodian at the Paradise Gardens Retirement Home. An orderly named Ashe welcomes her inside the dilapidated building and offers to show her around. The patients are kept in poor health under the most unsanitary conditions one can imagine. Bu
Vertigo Visions: The Phantom Stranger #1 is a one-shot with a cover date of October, 1993.
Appearing in "Gerontion"
- Paradise Gardens Retirement Home
- Book of Punishment
Synopsis for "Gerontion"
Naomi Walker begins her first night as a custodian at the Paradise Gardens Retirement Home. An orderly named Ashe welcomes her inside the dilapidated building and offers to show her around. The patients are kept in poor health under the most unsanitary conditions one can imagine. But despite all of that, there is only one patient that Ashe warns her against – the Phantom Stranger.
But this is not the Phantom Stranger that most people would recognize. He is old, fat and barely even a shadow of his former self. He is a man who is quite literally, without a soul.
Late into the evening, Naomi stares outside and sees the shade of the Phantom Stranger lurking at the window. Frightened, she places a call to the police. The housekeeper finds her and draws her away from the window insisting that she dine with the other servants. As she enters the servants' quarters, she finds that the residents of Paradise Gardens are pretending to be members of the staff. They are eating from bowls of soup made up of grime and maggots.
Disgusted, she flees from the dining area and runs upstairs. The corpulent Phantom Stranger intercepts her and tells Naomi that she is in Hell. In fact, the entire retirement home and all its residents are part of a shade dimension that exists between Hell and Earth. Naomi is in Hell because of a past sin, and the Phantom Stranger is there because he needs to locate his missing soul, which had been ripped from him by the demon Asmodeus. Asmodeus is the orderly, Ashe. The only way to save the other lost and damned souls is to acquire the Book of Punishment. In his current state, the Phantom Stranger is too weak to do so on her own.
The police officer that Naomi called earlier arrives, but this is actually Asmodeus. A large umbilical cord stretches out from him and attacks Naomi. Naomi Walker's sin is revealed. When she was very young, she made love to an angel who impregnated her with a divine seed. That seed eventually became Asmodeus. Now the demon wants to return to the womb that birthed him.
The Phantom Stranger blocks Asmodeus' advance, while Naomi scrambles to grab the Book of Punishment. Reading from the book, she enacts the binding spells that send all condemned souls to their proper places, including the Phantom Stranger's.
Asmodeus is spirited away along with the other tenants of Paradise Gardens. With this hellish veil lifted, Naomi comes to remember that she is actually a woman named Naamah – the manager of the infernal retirement home in Hell. She remembers now that it was the Stranger who deceived her and fathered the demon Asmodeus. The two old acquaintances depart – each one returning to command their personal stations in life.
- The Phantom Stranger appeared last last in Hellblazer #63. He appears next in Swamp Thing (Volume 2) #137.
- No trivia.