REVIEW: ‘Phenomena: Book One’ by Brian Michael Bendis, André Lima Araújo

Get ready for Vol. 2 of ‘Phenomena,’ by checking out our review of the first volume – a fun and unique space tale.

Editor’s Note: Ahead of the release of Phenomena: Matilde’s Quest later this month, Abrams sent us a physical copy of the first book to review.

Phenomena, Vol. 1: The Golden City of Eyes by Brian Michael Bendis

Brian Michael Bendis is responsible for helping to create some of the best comic characters in recent years, including Jessica Jones and Miles Morales. I enjoy his work and was thrilled when I had the chance to read and review Phenomena: Vol. 1 ahead of the release of Vol. 2. I admittedly hadn’t really heard of this title, and I’m a bit upset that I somehow allowed it to fly under my radar. It’s not one of my favorites of Bendis’, and I’m not quite sure what star rating I would give it, but I did enjoy it overall.

The story follows a young kid named Boldon as he goes on the hunt for the Golden City. Early on in his journey, he stumbles upon a Cyper named Spike, and a mysterious character that seems keen to cause the duo plenty of trouble. The story is at times ridiculous, and other times, utterly charming, and yet, it manages to be an enjoyable ride despite its bumps. Boldon and Spike are great together; Boldon is reckless and Cyper is very much all business, no play. The addition of the mysterious character – who I’m not naming as to avoid spoilers – proves to be a great addition, too. They play well off of the two main characters and help to add more depth to the story.

Phenomena: Vol. 1 is under a hundred and fifty pages, and yet, despite its short length, the story doesn’t always feel as though it’s fast-moving. This is, naturally, due to having to set up this world and its history and workings. But there’s still plenty to be established in this world, and by the end of the first volume, readers are sure to have more questions than answers. Something that should, hopefully, be tackled in the next installment now that the world has been established.

One of the main issues in the book is the artwork inside of it. The artwork is well done – André Lima Araújo has crafted some fantastic linework in this graphic novel. However, the lack of color does make it difficult to really appreciate the story being told as a whole. Normally, I don’t mind when a graphic novel is in black and white. In fact, sometimes it does serve the story better. In this instance, though, the lack of coloring seems to work against the story. The shading isn’t all that defined. And honestly, it makes it hard to get captivated by the story in the end. There are battles that are hard to follow. The locations seem to be lifeless and bland. If there was even a slight pop of color, or perhaps even more defined shading, this book could be perfect.

Overall: I’d definitely recommend giving this one a read. It’s short. It’s fun. And Spike is a great character.

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