By Kelly Gaines
To begin honestly, I was drawn to the Fantomah title because I recognized the name from Jon Morris’ The League of Regrettable Superheroes. Regrettable superhero is not a nomenclature any writer wants attached to their character, but If you’ve been following The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, you’ll notice another “regrettable” character (Madame Satan) has made quite the come back in her modern incarnation. So with Madame Satan’s blessing, I was eager to see how her fellow regrettable was faring in her current title.
Fantomah #4 is a solid read. A reader with limited knowledge of Fantomah and her powers could dive into the series without feeling completely lost, which is an accomplishment considering some titles have the tendency trip up readers mid-issue. The basics are self-evident: Fantomah (human identity Paz Gallegos) is a protector of children, draws power from an ancient source, and has a terrifying face attached to an ordinary body. With those facts in mind, issue #4 puts you right in the middle of the action.
Fantomah is in a race against the clock to save her sisters and competing against an enemy that may be equally as ancient and twice as powerful. Despite her ghoulish appearance, Fantomah is a force of good- one that is proudly unafraid to risk everything in the name of protecting innocents. The fight between Fantomah and Arturo is visually constructed with suspense in mind, making an already existing plot become a nail-biting, page-turning anxiety attack (in the best way)! While the action is a strength of the issue, it also points to the main weakness. From start to finish Fantomah #4 feels extremely fast paced. Conversations turn into fights almost instantaneously, and while that certainly makes for exciting reading, I felt as there were scenes that could be drawn out to give a little more character development. What was going through Maria and Isabela’s heads during captivity? Did Arturo rush through his goodbye to Emily out of vengeance or callousness or what? Or did the goodbye just read rushed from the outside? The events of this issue could probably be broken up into two separate issue. It was still a good read, but to really grow the legs necessary for a long-running book I think there needs to be a little more up close and personal time with the characters. Fantomah seems to be a title that will be dealing out a high body count, and developing the internal connection between reader and character can only help to tug at those heartstrings when the time comes.
Paz is in tune (whether she wants to be or not) with the call of those in need of justice, and though the issue did feel a little short, I’m invested in seeing where that call takes her. If you’re looking to spread your comic wings and find a different sort of superhero, a fan of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, or a fan of Jon Morris and his ‘Regrettable’ hero and villain books, Fantomah #4 is definitely worth a look.