Stone entered the negotiations with a weapon faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, one in a cartoon sense that permitted Stone to leap tall buildings with a single bound.
"It was the ballots mailed by readers to the Phantom Rescue Team, demanding The Ghost Who Walks be returned to the Daily News by Christmas," said Stone.
For every single negative ballot urging editors to kill The Phantom, there were 145 positive ones demanding he be immediately reinstated on the comic pages.
The single round was fired into the ceiling after Stone demanded the chains
binding The Phantom be broken. Stone retaliated by dumping the ballots on the negotiating table. The hijackers capitulated on the spot.
"Reader response of that caliber hits like a Stinger missle," reported Senior Editor Stone. "We fired ballots across the table like bullets, burying those three dudes in an avalanche of reader outrage."
Stone had nothing but scorn for the captors - three crazed Daily News editors who last month abducted The Phantom outside the Jabba jailhouse in Zabadabah and whisked him to a secret location in suburban Philadelphia.
"For openers, I had to check out the outfits on these three stooges," explained Stone. "All three were decked out in checkered suits, derby hats, and were smoking those El Ropeo cigars. They reminded me of boardwalk shysters."
Quite a clash, Stone continued, when you considered how smartly The Phantom was dressed, attired in his gray dancer tights, hood, codpiece and thin mask stretched around his eyes, which have no pupils. Stone said The Phantom appeared tired, and told him he was hungry.
"He asked for a frozen Milky Way," said Stone.
Phantom Rescue Team volunteers tomorrow will release a precise count on the ballots received, along with news on when you can anticipate Mr. Walker's triumphant return to the Daily News.
Rescue Team members also plan to update readers on what they missed during the now-historic blackout of The Phantom's adventures.