The Phantom is 21st in a line of crime-fighters which began in 1536, when the father of British sailor Christopher Walker was killed during a pirate attack. Swearing an oath on the skull of his father's murderer to fight evil, Christopher began the legacy of the Phantom which would pass from father to son, creating the impression of an immortal and mythical figure.
Based in an imaginary African country Bengalla, with definate Colonial undertones, the Phantom has no superpowers; he relies on his strength, intelligence and the myth of his immortality to take action against the forces of evil.
The Phantom was the first fictional hero to wear the skintight costume which has become a hallmark of comic-book super heroes and was the first shown in a mask with no visible pupils. Initially created in 1936 he is also widely accepted as being the progenitor of many of the current more famous comic book characters such as Batman and Captain America as well as being a transitional figure with elements of earlier pre-superhero characters such as Tarzan and Zoro.
During WW2, soldiers received care packages containing comics. The soldiers stationed in Papua New Guinea shared these comics with the locals, and the Phantom became extremely popular among the tribes. The Papuan people who could read English would read the stories and share the images with others. The character's image is often painted on ceremonial shields or alongside other tribal art. This is sometimes referred to as "tribal pop art.