The first season of Peter Chung’s Phantom 2040 was an amazing title, and is unjustly ignored. It presented exceptional voice acting from actors such as Ron Perlman and Mark Hamill. It brought mature storytelling to cartoons against a dark, futuristic, corporate-ruled backdrop. Perhaps the reason that the second season of this show was never released for the consumer market after its initial airing, was that all of the negatives present in the first season were magnified in the second, and bogged down an otherwise excellent show.
The second season of Phantom 2040 picks up right where the first left off. The Phantom is still fighting Maximum Inc., which has teamed up with Gorda, an obese crime lord and smuggler, to defeat the Phantom and bring about Maximum Inc.’s plan to destroy the Earth’s eco-system while the worlds elite’s hide in safety. In the midst of this conflict, the Phantom, Kit Walker, is still investigating what happened to his father in a train accident that occurred 30 years ago.
A better view into the motivations of the story’s villains, the Maxwell family, is the second seasons strong point. Sadly though, the other villians in the story come out as card board cutouts. Graft, although well explored in the first season, never resolves any of his doubts. The glimpses of his “good” side seem to never have happened. Graft had so much potential as a villain, because he was not black and white. Sadly, his mixed motivations never came out and he is instead exiled into the role of stock baddy for the Phantom. The mythology of The Phantom is also more emphasized and this seriously detracts from an otherwise very cyberpunk show. One final positive thing to be said, is that most of the story’s plot does get resolved, although it doesn’t feel completly satisfying.
The production for the show also fell in the second season. The animation quality shifts dramatically from episode to episode, making a few of the episodes difficult to watch. Ron Perlman left the show and was replaced by Richard Lynch, who simply doesn’t live up to the voice acting that Ron Perlman provided. Mark Hamill has a larger role in the second season though, and still brings his A-game to the character of Dr. Jak, the TV personality.
It’s not surprising that the second season didn’t get a commercial release, seeing as it was simply not as strong as the first. What is saddening about this though, is that the story is largly rapped up in the second season. This leaves fans of the show without access to the completion of the story, even though unlike so many other shows, it was wrapped up in the end. The second season is available on YouTube though, due to the recording abilities of some amazing humans during it’s original airing.
Phantom 2040 Season 2 – 5/10