Review: Phenomenal #1

Phenomenal is a story with big aspirations, but poor execution. It’s a shame because it’s not a bad-looking book and the concept isn’t terrible. It’s the structure and storytelling that really holds it back. That and the page count. This story could have easily been broken into two and expanded to be clear and developed better. Unfortunately with it being independently produced, it’s doubtful that that was an option. The story follows two sisters that are demon hunters. They don’t know their real parents, but they were raised by two other demon hunters that found them and kept them as their own. The girls are all grown up now and their adopted parents are dead. The story picks up after a battle in which one of the sisters is dazed and confused. She can’t remember what she was doing, but then suddenly she knows she needs to find her sister. That doesn’t pan out as a demon captures her and locks her in a room next to her sister. They begin talking about a powerful object in their possession and when the demon has heard enough it busts in and possesses the younger sister. It wants the older sister for her power, but what her power is, well that’s never fully explained.

The story jumps around to the past a lot trying to build meaning to the events happening in the future. That’s why I think it should have been two issues because if there was an entire issue dedicated to the past and then the future it would have made for a better story. As it stands, you don’t actually need anything from the past because it’s all out of context.

The dialogue is the roughest part of the issue. Everything is exposition practically. The parents conveniently discuss that they found the kids with the kids ease dropping for no other reason than to reveal that they’re not their kids; the sisters talking about the magical object that the demon is looking for and worst yet is during the final showdown…

With no indication throughout the issue one of the sisters is suddenly telepathic and talks to her demon possessed sister and says: “I’m telepathically communicating with you. Balthazar doesn’t hear this.” There’s more, but that’s verbatim for how she talks.

Issues 1 - comixologyv2 - title fix.indbThat is the very definition of convenient writing. No work was done to explain to the reader that the character was telepathic or that she can pick who she talks to in a possessed body so she just explains it. Hell I would have believed that they knew each other’s actions because they’re siblings and extremely close to each other or if she had just talked to her sister telepathically and there was a narration explaining that, it would have been fine or at the very least not as noticeable. That’s the killer though, there are narrative captions that could have been used to explain or exposition and they’re not. Character exposition is used instead making the narrative captions pointless.

The art is okay. It’s forced to jump around a lot and I think that breaks the flow of the story and makes it hard to adjust to the art or pick up on strengths. Maybe because I stared at the final page for a long time while writing this, but there’s a coffee mug on the table of an otherwise convincing fast food scene… also our characters both have their WcDoo Café coffees in front of them so I had to wonder who the third coffee cup was for and why they got a mug? I know its nitpicky, but the perspective of the page puts it right in line with the “The End” at the bottom of the page. Your eye is drawn to it making it noticeable.

I know that the creative team put a lot of work and excitement into this issue. I can tell that much, but it’s not something I can recommend to others. There might be some fans out there for it, but it’s unfortunately the embodiment of the negative stereotypes that indie comics receive. It’s not fun writing a review like this for an indie title and trust me, I could have been much harsher but that wouldn’t have been constructive. Hopefully the creative team’s next outing is stronger than this one.

Score: 1/5

Writer: Rodney Roger Artist: Rommel Fabian Publisher: R-Comics Price: $1.99 Release Date: 7/16/14 Comixology Link