The Skull Ring is one of two ancient signet rings that are always worn by The Phantom. This ring is always worn on the right hand, the favored punching hand of the Phantom. It has been used since the time of the 1st Phantom. This particular ring has gained an infamous reputation all its own, as those evildoers that are punched with it, are left with permanent mark in the form of a skull, known as a Skull Mark.
There are many conflicting theories as to the true origins of the Skull Ring, but it is generally believed that this ring is far older than the legendary Phantom. There are several conflicting theories about the origins of the ring, but as much is certain that it once belonged to the Roman Emperor Nero and was used as a key to a special vault located in the catacombs beneath Rome, which was said to contain a fabulous jewel. Speculation persists that this jewel might have been the fabled Apple of Nero's Eye, a large emerald that was utilized by Nero as an eyeglass. The ring was said to have come into possession of the 1st Phantom through the Swiss scholar Paracelsus, who handed it over to him shortly before his death in 1541.
Even though it is not clear how, it is known that the ring cannot be melted down. Several fruitless attempts have occurred down the centuries, but to no avail. The ring can also be used as a kind of catalyst; if put in a fire, the flames will increase, yet it will not be warm to the touch when it is plucked out.
How the Rings Work
In a recent edition of The Last Phantom comic, it is finally revealed how the Skull Ring actually works and is able to leave permanent mark behind on the skin after someone is punched with it. As the series progresses, young Kit Walker (the future 21st Phantom) has flashbacks about his father, the 20th Phantom, and remembers the all the lessons imparted to him during his childhood and adolescence. As a boy, he learned the various skills and techniques which he might need when he takes over as the next Phantom. Kit asks his father about the rings on how do they work; how hard does he has to hit to get the permanent mark on their face. For many decades of comics published and it had never been revealed as to how this mark would really come. We know that with our simple rings that would be impossible to get even temporary mark!
According The Last Phantom writer, Scott Beatty, it is really NOT the punch itself but a specific juice from a Bangallan berry that is dabbed on the signets. This juice is an allergen, which creates a permanent and indelible tattoo. If a Phantom were to actually hit a person hard enough to leave a permanent imprint, he'd shatter a criminal's jaw and fracture his skull. By using the two rings in tandem a Phantom is able to strike a balance between good and evil, for without the marks, how would a Phantom know which is which?
According to The Phantom creator, Lee Falk, and as narrated in the "The Phantom's Ring", the 28th Phantom Sunday comic story, the Skull Ring is made of gold, it is ancient and it was given to the 1st Phantom by the jungle kings. The appearance of the ring has varied through the publication of "The Phantom", but it has always been giving a Skull Mark when the Phantom hits a criminal with it. In the Moore/McCoy/Lignante stories, the ring was worn at the right ring finger, but with the start of the Barry era, the ring is worn at the middle finger.
In the The Phantom 1996 film, the Skull Ring was the fourth skull - a sort of control device - utilized to control the Skulls of Touganda - three powerful skulls made of jade, silver and gold that possessed immense power. This ring was given to the 1st Phantom by the Touganda tribe shortly after their first meeting.