ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘The Phalanx,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Phalanx #1

The Phalanx #1 is written, illustrated, colored, lettered, and designed by Jonathan Luna.  It’s published by Image Comics. The vigilante Spur is chasing a man named Diego Saint, who serves as the human host of the alien being called L15. When Saint/L15 tears a hole through time, Spur follows him into the year 1992 and encounters a group of superheroes known as the Phalanx. The Phalanx’s members – Colonel, Loch Ness, Cyon, and Valkyrja – enlist Spur’s help in finding Saint/L15 and stopping his race, the Proximans, from conquering Earth.

Image Comics celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, and it’s taken great strides in commemorating that anniversary. Supermassive launched an entirely new superhero universe. Spawn, one of Image’s flagship characters, has seen an expansion of his mythos across four titles, including King Spawn and The Scorched. A new anthology series, Image!, features creators from across Image’s history delivering original tales and stories set within the universes of their own titles. Luna, who’s launched creator-owned titles including Alex + Ada and Ultra at Image, even says in The Phalanx‘s foreword that the opening salvo of Image titles is what solidified his decision to become a comic book artist.

To that end, The Phalanx serves as a major tribute to Image’s early days. From its plot, many of Image’s early heroes, including Youngblood and WildC.A.T.S., were locked in battle with alien invaders, to the setting, it’s clear that Luna wanted to craft a comic that doubled as a love letter to all things Image. Even the characters themselves feel like they came from the ’90s. Loch Ness can transform into a massive monster similar to the Savage Dragon, while Cyon is an android with bright blue energy powers in the vein of WildC.A.T.S.‘ Jack Marlowe/Spartan.

While most homages to established characters often feel like characters with the serial numbers filed off, Luna manages to hit the same sweet spot that Invincible did with the Phalanx. His art also pays homage to the Image founders, including Jim Lee and Whilce Portacio. Add in the bright colors and the slightly larger than usual lettering, and you have a comic that would feel comfortable in a dollar bin at the local comic shop.

The story is also relatively self-contained: Spur chases Saint/L15 through time, ends up in 1992, and teams up with the Phalanx. There’s also the added wrinkle of Spur having knowledge of the Phalanx’s future adventures. The phrase “never meets your heroes” comes to mind, only with an added caveat: “never meet your heroes if you have future knowledge of their fate.” Puzzlingly, Luna doesn’t dwell too much on this, even though it could have been a really compelling story hook. As it stands, the story ends with the potential for more of the Phalanx’s adventures which I wouldn’t mind seeing.

The Phalanx #1 serves as a loving tribute to Image Comics’ inception, from the titular team’s heroes to its 1992 setting. This one-shot will probably appeal most to a select group of readers, particularly those who grew up on early Image. But I also feel that new readers will enjoy it, and time will tell if we see more of this team.

The Phalanx #1 will be available wherever comics are sold on June 1, 2022.


The Phalanx #1
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TL;DR

The Phalanx #1 serves as a loving tribute to Image Comics’ inception, from the titular team’s heroes to its 1992 setting. This one-shot will probably appeal most to a select group of readers, particularly those who grew up on early Image. But I also feel that new readers will enjoy it, and time will tell if we see more of this team.