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‘Phenomena: The Golden City of Eyes’ (review)

Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by
André Lima Araújo
Published by Abrams ComicsArts

 

“Everyone tells you, “You’re going to see something you’ve never seen before.” That’s what everyone said. Who doesn’t want to see something they’ve never seen?”

My love of comic books has undoubtedly changed as I have grown older. As a child and later on as a teenager, I would only consume the works of the big two, Marvel and DC. Sure I knew about a few independent comic books, Judge Dread, Usagi Yojimbo, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But the best and brightest stories in my mind were always found in notable book titles like The Avengers, The Spectacular Spider-Man, and World’s Finest.

Brian Michael Bendis began his work in the world of independent books but later became one of Marvel Comics’ most well-recognized and prolific writers on some of the characters featured in these books.

After a few years writing for DC’s, most notably Superman, Bendis has decided to return to his independent roots with the Phenomena: The City of Eyes Book One. It is a glorious return to form. Liberated from the strict and byzantine rules of following editorial and fan expectations, Bendis and Araújo have created a grand lustrous world of a future Earth that I cannot wait to revisit.

Phenomena is the story of a young boy named Boldon and his warrior friend Spike—survivors of phenomena that took over Earth years ago. We follow Boldon and Spike as they are forced to team up with another lost orphan of the world, Matilde. The trio of heroes goes on a globetrotting adventure that takes them to a magical, mysterious place called the Golden City of Eyes. As they quest across this dangerous new world looking for answers and purpose, they face off against dark forces big and small, changing the world better along the way. In each book in the series, our heroes travel to different parts of the magical world of Phenomena by various modes of transportation, each more fantastical than the mode that preceded it. Each journey is personal, and every chapter takes the trio toward a different, visually iconic destination. Each location, character, and chapter reveals clues to the shape of the world and how they got there—and, ultimately, their purpose.

In the world of Phenomena, Brian Michael Bendis and André Lima Araújo deliver a universe full of rich and unforgettable characters,  stunning images, and equally stunning art. My only issue with this book is that I wish it were in color. I can only imagine Araújo’s art if it were presented in full technicolor. Phenomena is a triumphant work representing both Bendis and Araújo at the peak of their game.

5 out of 5 Stars.

 

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