FACT CHECK: `Phantom' did not talk of 'China virus' in 1957

A 1957 comic strip of superhero `Phantom’ demonstrating how to cover face with a mask is being widely shared on social media.

By Newsmeter Network  Published on  2 Dec 2021 4:53 AM GMT
FACT CHECK: `Phantom did not talk of China virus in 1957

HYDERABAD: A 1957 comic strip of superhero `Phantom' demonstrating how to cover face with a mask is being widely shared on social media.

In the strip, Phantom is heard saying "Tie as I do. This will protect you from the 'China Virus' in the valley."

The strip is being shared in context to a conspiracy theory that the COVID-19 pandemic was pre-planned. "Would you believe this was published in 1957?" reads the message.

Users are indicating that the COVID-19 pandemic had been planned a very long time ago.


The claim that the 1957 Phantom comic strip spoke about "China Virus" is false.

NewsMeter performed a reverse search on the comic strip and found a tweet that mentioned the title of the comic as 'Valley of no return'. (archive)

Using this as a hint, the fact check team searched for the comic 'Valley of no return' and found that it was first published in 1958 and was written by Lee Falk and illustrated by Wilson McCoy. The fact check team then searched further using keywords such as 'McCoy's and The Phantom Comics' and found the original strip. The original strip reads: "Tie it on as I do this will protect you from the 'sleep death' in the valley."

https://ausreprints.net/issue/49801 (for the valley of no return)

https://comics.ha.com/itm/original-comic-art/comic-strip-art/wilson-mccoy-the-phantom-daily-comic-strip-original-art-group-of-3-king-features-syndicate-/a/121727-11109.s (for original strip)

The original strip refers to the Phantom instructing other characters to tie a mask around their face after dipping it in water, to protect them from 'Sleep Death' in the valley. The comic revolves around "sleep death," a mysterious illness plaguing people in "The Valley of No Return" and protection against it.

This comic strip was published in 1957 amidst the flu pandemic where health officials encouraged using masks to prevent the disease from spreading.



The words "China virus," an inaccurate reference to COVID-19, were not used in the original comic. This text was digitally altered.

Thus, the claim is false.

Claim Review:1957 Phantom comic strip talks of “China Virus”
Claimed By:Social Media Users
Claim Reviewed By:Newsmeter
Claim Source:Social Media
Claim Fact Check:False
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