Review by C.J. Bunce
A new series of graphic novels begins this week Abrams ComicArts. Phenomena (available at comic shops and here at Amazon) begins with the first volume The Golden City of Eyes, a hardcover graphic novel about a pair of Littles who become a part of another traveler’s epic “hero’s journey.” But first the hero must reclaim his sword. Continuing the mash-up sci-fi and fantasy adventure stories found in Jean-Claude Mézières’ Valerian and Laureline, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Cowboy Bebop, writer Brian Michael Bendis and Portuguese artist André Limr Araújo create a future Earth where a kid named Boldon from Borzubo (which used to be Toronto) arrives in the metropolis of Versalani. On his way to the City of Golden Eyes he meets a sleeping Comedor and foils a Borcus…
Spike is a Cyper, a lumbering Drax type alien who thinks Matilde, a young woman with cool gechomech tech has his blade. Matilde is a bit like Spider-Gwen and Lotus from Legend of the Condor Heroes. She’s trying to make her way like everyone else. Boldon tries to befriend Spike (who doesn’t like Boldon’s voice) as all three characters repeatedly come together against common foes on the way to the city of Golden Eyes, which may be London of the future.
But what big change happened, a change that divides the way the future works compared to the past?
And who are the Lumifrere?
Phenomena has the fantasy adventure feel of the D&D duo Minsc & Boo and their friends, a hero’s journey, rooted in Asian cultures, like Akira Kurosawa movies, Hayao Miyazaki anime, and Jin Yong novels. Bendis’s world is creative and clever, with curious characters grounded in both classic science fiction and fantasy. Araújo’s layouts are gorgeously detailed, with world-building in every corner (who are those little creatures running around throughout the story?).
Always returning to vivid layouts of the trio together on their way to their best adventure, Araújo creates the next science landscape that began with Jean-Claude Mézières’ Valerian and Laureline.
Take a look at these layout pages:
With black and white (uncolored) artwork, Phenomena should be considered must-read material for comic book readers, especially fans of science fiction and fantasy beyond that of the major comics publishers.