Imagine if you will the concept of Luke Cage — wrongfully imprisoned, experimented upon, given superpowers — and then add a Latinx twist along with a sprinkle of a father's redemption story, that would likely get you to the front door of PhenomX #1, an engaging but improperly paced origin story that delivers on charm and comes up short on plotting.
Max Gomez got dealt a bad hand. Racially profiled and railroaded into jail for a crime he literally could not have committed, he also grew up in a neighborhood that was subject to a specific form of irradiation, so that's got its own challenges. All of those things led to him being estranged from his son and disenfranchised from his future. Enter a secret federal government program that wants to use him as a weapon to clean up a mess they made, and Max is on his way to power and possibility.
The script from Aram Rappaport, Joe Miciak, Damian Slattery, and actor John Leguizamo works hard to inject humor and great dialogue into the work. That lifts the possibly dour subject material into something more akin to the approach of Ant-Man, and that's a good choice. Likewise, the sequential art from Chris Batista, Sabrina Cintron, Christopher Sotomayor, and Andworld Design is dynamic and interesting.
The challenge here comes from the structure. Flashing back from an action scene, the origin of this new powered character is abruptly cut short without any kind of resolution of denouement. The last page of the book is just hitting the brakes, not coming to an actual stop of anything, and that's disruptive of the solid vibe that was happening. Whether that's a factor of the creators not knowing that they were running out of pages or whatever, it's hard to swallow.
That said, perhaps collected or with future issues, this will shine as brightly as its dialogue. For now, it's a swing and a miss. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.
By John Leguizamo, Aram Rappaport, Joe Miciak, Damian Slattery, Chris Batista
Wrongfully imprisoned and desperate to regain his freedom, Max Gomez agrees to become a subject in an underground government experiment. When the trial gives him phenomenal shape-shifting abilities, Gomez learns his new "freedom" requires surviving a superpowered war fought on the streets of NYC.