The Children of the Phoenix, Volume 1
Written by Radi Lewis; Illustrated by Mike Borromeo and Barry Cervantes
Chameleon Creations; $9.95
The Children of the Phoenix is an interesting idea; amateurishly produced. It’s about a couple of secret races that battle each other through history. One is a race of shape-changing demons called the Jin that wants to harm humanity; the other is a family of continuously reincarnated people who protect us from the Jin.
That’s not an entirely original idea, but Lewis does some cool things with it. He focuses a lot on the family and spends some good time introducing us to them and fleshing them out as unique characters. They feel like a family and you’re rooting for them by the end of the book.
He also humanizes the Jin by making them more than stock, hive-mind kind of creatures. He doesn’t spend a ton of time on them, but we see that they have individual personalities and that there are fundamental differences within their group about how to deal with the Phoenix family.
Finally, Lewis throws in an unexpected twist at the end that leads into a pretty good cliffhanger. I’m very curious to know what happens next, if only the package of the next volume is more professional than this one.
I got an uncorrected proof copy to review, but I’m getting less generous about those lately. Yeah, some or all of the numerous, glaring spelling and grammatical errors may be corrected in the final product, but I have no way of knowing which or to what extent. The lettering, for instance, looks like someone bought a comics font package and just went to town with it without really understanding what he or she was doing. Some of the balloon placing doesn’t make sense and the type is in different sizes and sometimes doesn’t quite fit in the balloons.
The art isn’t where I’d like it to be either. There are precious few backgrounds, the people look quickly sketched out, and there’s not much thought given to perspective. I was generally able to tell what was going on in the story, but there’s one point where a couple of the boys get into a conflict with their dad and baby sister and I couldn’t tell if everyone was serious or just joking around.
The art didn’t help there, but the dialogue also failed to explain things. When you’ve got a kid holding his sister hostage with her arm twisted behind her back, and the kid and his brother are calling their dad “old man” while daring him to stop them, I need to see some smiles if they’re kidding or Dad getting angry if they’re not. Hell, the way they’re treating their sister, he needs to get angry whether they’re kidding or not. The way it reads, they’re taking it seriously and he’s not. It’s a weird scene of kids rebelling against a father who really doesn’t seem to care, but is otherwise portrayed as a normal, loving dad.
There’s an editor listed in the credits, but the book needed some major tweaking before it went to press. It’s a worthy endeavor, but everyone involved should have worked on it longer before releasing it into the world.