Genre

Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult, Middle Grade

Audience

All Ages

Author’s Worldview

Catholic

Year Published

2021

Themes

Superheroes, crime, justice, faith, action, adventure, truth, courage

 

Reviewed by

Corinna Turner

This is another excellent production from Voyage Comics, skillfully bridging the gap between Christian and secular fare.

Martin Claver has overcome the debilitating leg injury he sustained as an ace fighter pilot in World War I to rise from the ashes as the Phantom Phoenix, dedicated to fighting crime in lawless 1920s Chicago. But when he uncovers evidence of corruption among the police—who don’t appreciate his efforts—he may need the assistance of new acquaintance Josephine Wilson, a female officer and a trailblazer in the Chicago Police Department.

This exciting beginning takes the reader back to the roots of superhero stories with its classic setting and a refreshingly clear-cut moral focus lost from more recent superhero offerings.

Themes of justice, courage, and seeking God’s will make this book attractive to all devout Christians. Also, Martin/The Phantom Phoenix is a devout Catholic who turns to a holy old priest for advice. Catholics may also appreciate how very humble our hero is, evoking St. Joseph. Formerly homeless, he now lives in a church basement/boiler room and works as a church janitor. Heroine Josephine is brave, kind, and feminine, immediately raising the reader’s hopes for friendship (or more!) with Martin. Elements such as this enliven and refresh the otherwise timeless superhero-fighting-corruption plot.

Although the holy old priest and the other cops, villains, etcetera are white, our protagonists are both black, inspired by real historical figures, Eugene Bullard and Grace Wilson, but, just to make it doubly refreshing, nothing is made of this fact. It simply is.

The images are well-drawn, and I read the book in one go. This first issue sets up interesting characters and leaves a strong desire for more. The text is not so subtle in getting points across as in a full-length work, but with limited space, every word in a comic book has to count.

The Christian content, though clearly present, is equivalent to what might be found in original classic comics, therefore this book would suit most Secular readers as well as Catholics, as long as they like superheroes and comic books with a moral focus. It will especially suit fans of classic comics. Readers of all ages will enjoy this book, from children right through to adults, and issue 2 is already out.

If you’re fed up with the increasingly grey morality of modern superhero stories, this gripping new comic book series with refreshingly likeable characters is for you.

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