REVIEW: ‘Phenomx,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Phenomx #1

Phenomx #1 is published by Image Comics, written by John Leguizamo, Aram Rappaport, Joe Miciak, and Damian Slattery, art by Chris Batista, inks by Sabrina Citron, colors by Christopher Sotomayor, and letters by Andworld Design. Luis Alvarado is doing time for a crime he didn’t commit. With his parole coming up, all he wants is to behave himself until he gets his chance to convince a judge to let him out so he can spend his time with the only person who still seems to believe in him: his son. But due to a twist of fate, an ultra-secret government program has other plans for Luis.

While Phenomx #1 serves as the beginnings of a classic government experiment superhero origin story, it also brings with it a whole lot of social commentary surrounding its protagonist. While the story weaves this commentary through its numerous scenes, it does so in a way that rarely slows the story down. There are no long monologues or preachy moments. Instead, the circumstances Luis has to deal with due to being Latino is worked into the interactions he has with those around him in a way that is obvious but still natural feeling.

Beyond its social commentary, Phenomx #1 delivers a well-executed and thought-out superhero origin. While Luis’s character is a bit rough around the edges, he comes across as a person who generally means well. He feels like he has a bit of a chip on his shoulder, but if I were going through the things he is, I’d probably have the chip there too.

The cast that Phenomx #1‘s writers surround Luis with brings further layers of authenticity to the story. From the head of the government agency that pressures Luis into service right down to his little boy, every personality feels real. The reality that inhabits this tale brings a stark contrast to the often larger-than-life characters that generally inhabit superhero tales.

As this issue’s story introduces some of the super-powered characters that inhabit this world, the story informs readers of vital information on these characters via dossier files that appear unobtrusively on the page. Giving information like name and power type, these files function for practical purposes, as well as providing a little extra visual style to the book.

The part of this book that comes as a bit of a mixed bag is the art. While I love how everything outside of the superhuman elements of the story is kept in line with the realistic tone of the story, the characters feel a bit too wooden in many of the panels. I also feel that the choice of point of view often plays it too safe. While the view is never poorly chosen, it never manages to immerse the reader in the unfolding events.

The linework’s reinforcement of the story’s grounded nature is further aided by the well-balanced choice of colors. While the colors rarely pop in this book, the nature of the story and most of its locales don’t invite too much flair from the colors.

Rounding out the presentation in this book is the lettering. The letters here deliver the story in a clean and easy-to-follow style that never inhibits the art’s presence in the panels.

So, when all is said and done, Phenomx #1 delivers a unique and grounded first step in its hero’s story. The smoothly worked social commentary allows the book to make statements clearly, while never slowing the story down to do so.

Phenomx #1 is available now wherever comics are sold.


Phenomx #1
4

TL;DR

So, when all is said and done, Phenomx #1 delivers a unique and grounded first step in its hero’s story. The smoothly worked social commentary allows the book to make statements clearly, while never slowing the story down to do so.