|First appearance||Marvel Age Annual #1 (1985)|
|Created by||Kurt Busiek|
|Alter ego||A. G. Bell|
|Abilities||Can interface to any telecommunications system|
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Phone Ranger is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Initially conceived as a one-off joke character, he has since become a legitimate presence within the comics universe.
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Phone Ranger first appeared in Marvel Age Annual #1 (1985), and was created by Kurt Busiek and James Fry.
Fictional character biography
The Phone Ranger's real name is A. G. Bell (a reference to Alexander Graham Bell, creator of the telephone). He was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and made a living as a telephone repairman in New York City.[original research?]
One day, Bell was called in to repair a telephone that had been smashed to pieces by its owner, who flew into a rage at the constant prank calls he had been receiving. In reality, the "prank calls" were distress signals from a tiny spaceship that had fled from a subatomic universe and somehow ended up trapped within the phone receiver. Upon examining the broken telephone, Bell realized that the aliens had left some of their technology behind within the phone. Replicating the technology, Bell fashioned a costume of his own design that allowed him to connect with any telecommunications system in existence, and the Phone Ranger was born.
The Phone Ranger made his official heroic debut when the Lethal Legion attacked the offices of Marvel Comics (which exist in-universe, publishing the exploits of the heroes with their permission). Desperate for help, writer Kurt Busiek had dialed lots of phone numbers, and on that moment the mysterious Phone Ranger appeared right in front of him. Phone Ranger claimed he was here to fight the Lethal Legion, also claiming that he existed to protect actual telephones.[volume & issue needed]
He fought Legion member Unicorn who defeated the super-hero.[volume & issue needed] Later, Phone Ranger was apparently shot in the head by the Scourge of the Underworld and was presumed dead.[volume & issue needed]
The Phone Ranger reappeared during the Civil War event, his survival being explained as the thick layer of optical fibers in his headpiece deflecting the bullet. Initially he refused to sign the Registration Act and was arrested by Spider-Man and Iron Man in Civil War Front Line, but he accepted registration after the surrender of Captain America and is listed as pro-registration in Civil War: Battle Damage Report. According to the Avengers Assemble handbook and volume 5 of the A-Z hardcover Handbook, Phone Ranger's role is mostly tech support
The Phone Ranger's true identity and his actual powers were unrevealed for most of his history. The Marvel one-shot Civil War: Battle Damage Report finally gave a definitive backstory for the character. The character's origin story actually references an obscure story published in Strange Tales #94 (1962), by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. A connection between this story and the character was first posited by writer John Kaminski at the unofficial Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe website. Whether Marvel was aware of this when they created the backstory is unknown.
- Marvel Age Annual #1
- Civil War: Battle Damage Report
- Phone Ranger at the Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe
- Origin story of the Phone Ranger (since made official by Marvel)
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