"Sins": At the House of Mystery, Frankenstein bursts in carrying the limp body of the Phantom Stranger, who seems to be dying. The body had been left on the doorstep, perhaps in the hope that the [[Justice League Dark (Prime E
- It's almost funny-- in a sad, sick way. For centuries I have been forced to walk the earth alone-- while a man like you is blessed by the very god who condemned me.
Appearing in "Sins"
- Sin Eater (Philip Stark) (First appearance)
- Nightmare Nurse (First appearance)
Synopsis for "Sins"
At the House of Mystery, Frankenstein bursts in carrying the limp body of the Phantom Stranger, who seems to be dying. The body had been left on the doorstep, perhaps in the hope that the Justice League Dark could help, or at least bear witness to his passing. Constantine examines the wound and determines quickly that the Stranger was impaled with the Spear of Destiny. Laying him out on a table, Deadman searches the man's body for any trace of his soul, but to no avail.
The Stranger, meanwhile, finds himself sitting in a chair in an empty room, apart from an empty chair facing him, and a presence that he senses somewhere in the room. At his urging, a stranger with flames about his head steps out of the shadows and sits in the chair. The man taunts him, demanding to know just how many lives the Phantom Stranger had stolen or destroyed in his centuries of living among men. The man stares the Stranger in the face, and dares him to make a move to escape, but warns that if he does, he will never see the Stark family again. The Stark family, he claims, was never his to have. They were the family of Philip Stark, and the Stranger took them from him.
Back at the House of Mystery, Zatanna suggests that they can't hope to find the Stranger's soul on their own. They will need to call in help. John knows what that means, and is reluctant to call on the woman Zatanna is thinking of. She complains that they have no choice, and summons the one who can salve magical wounds: the Nightmare Nurse - healer from Hell.
Rebutting his captors accusations, the Stranger responds that he was better than Philip Stark was. The Phantom Stranger reveals through a vision how he had come to make Philip Stake pay for his crimes. The murder mystery author had been acting out his own crimes as "research", and he had even attempted to kill the Stranger. He had been planning to murder his own family when the Stranger took his life. He regrets nothing, having stolen the twisted love that would have driven Stark to kill his family and purified it, then taking it into himself as he became the father and husband that Philip Stark never was.
The Nightmare Nurse agrees to retrieve the Stranger's soul, but warns John that such magic comes at a price - to be negotiated later.
The captor explains that the Phantom Stranger committed a crime when he chose not to kill Philip Stark. Instead, he had dispersed the man's consciousness into the ether. It later reconvened in a kind of limbo that he later dubbed the Land of Non, and he transformed. Casting away the flames from his face, the man reveals that he is Philip Stark. Once he learned how to travel between worlds, he took his family back.
The Nurse discovers that a rage has overtaken the Stranger's soul and sent him into cardiac arrest - he has only seconds to live. Desperately, Zatanna reaches out, and yanks the Stranger back into the land of the living, just before he can get his revenge.
Despite his disorientation after finding himself in the House of Mystery, the Phantom Stranger has a clue about where his family was taken.
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