The New 52 is a year old now and the new reality is forming. The Phantom Stranger has always been a character of mystery in the DC Universe. He is and has been around key moments and is very powerful, yet we are always kept wondering just who and what his purpose is in the cosmos. The New 52 gives direction to this character. It is an interesting and bold choice in many ways. Unlike Marvel, DC has never shied away from writing about and using the Christian God for characterization. In fact they are very mush a company that has acknowledged Christianity, Judaism, and Islam in their Universes. Marvel of old acknowledged that many believed in a supreme being, but that its pantheons of gods and goddesses were not connected. They were only superhuman beings that had been worshiped on Earth.
Why go into all of this religious talk? Because the identity of the Phantom Stranger has been revealed. He is Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of the Son of God. In the DCnU his is part of what is being termed the Trinity of Sin. A council of Wizards passed judgment upon him and now he wears the thirty pieces of silver he was paid to betray Jesus as a necklace around his neck. No mercy was given when he asked for it. He is returned to the world a Stranger. Vast powers are his to command. He wears a robe, a simple robe of cheap cloth. It is the robe of Jesus. That is what his cloak is after being reshaped over the centuries.
So the Phantom Stranger wanders the Earth, forever apart from those around him. He is told that he will be called upon to aid those that will serve good. We get to see his first assignment that has been thousands of years in the waiting. It is the Stranger that aids in the events that lead to the creation of the Spectre. Not sure if it is the main DCnU Earth, or Earth 2 where this is all happening. It will be interesting to see which it happens on. The kicker for the Phantom Stranger is that his help will always require him to betray those he helps. A constant reminder as to why he wanders the Earth.
It is a brave twist and I like how they are approaching this Trinity of Sin thing. I forget who the Question was before, but he is one part of this group and Pandora is the other. I have a feeling that Captain Marvel will be involved in the overall story. I hope all the Phantom Stranger issues are as good as this one was to me.