Chapterhouse Comics 2017
Written by Ray Fawkes
Illustrated by Soo Lee
Lettered by Andrew Thomas
24-year-old Paz Gallegos has been plagued with visions. Visions she doesn’t understand. Visions of a ghostly figure floating below the surface of her dreams. When her younger sisters abruptly go missing one evening, Paz finds herself in a desperate and dangerous race against the clock. After striking out at a member of the local gang Tres Sorrow, Paz is thrown off a bridge to her certain death. But instead, something awakens in Paz Gallegos, and she is transformed into the dreaded Fantomah. Now she is hell-bent on finding her sisters, no matter how much blood will have to be spilled on the way.
I’m intrigued despite the flaws of this first issue. We don’t see Paz’s visions per se at least not as affecting her day to day life or being the cause of the headache she claimed to have. That she was already somehow connected to Fantomah is something I look forward to seeing explored as well as learning more about it’s origins i this hispanic community. Ray is a strong writer and that he fails to really connect the two this issue surprises me.
Also Paz has a headache at work then passes out from it and the next thing we know she’s running to pick up the twins at school but she’s running late. Now that would’ve been a great opportunity to show us, the readers, the connection between the girl and the supernatural entity as well show us WHY she was late picking the girls up. What happened to her when she passed out? It’s a glaring omission that leaves you shaking your head.
You can see the inexperience in Soo’s work on the interiors here as well. The use of backgrounds then the random blank background show us she’s not used to working on a book like this. Also the inconsistencies in not seeing face details. However she’s also got some nice talent and with experience comes better work and I can see from this she’s got hella potential. The use of page layouts through angles and perspective are nicely done.
There is a point where Paz sees some guys she used to know who apparently run a slave trade. Well they are cogs in the wheel of one anyway. She accuses them of taking her sisters because of her actions earlier on. Now this is something not so nice or easy to touch upon, the slave trade of young girls. It gives Paz a reason to fight the gangs yes but again there’s a disconnect with how she knew that and how we see it. Plus we don’t know if they even had the girls at all. After the issue ends we’re still left wondering where her sisters are and that’s a little disheartening.
Despite all this there is potential here. Ray’s a strong writer and given some time to smooth things out and find a groove this could be big. There’s a great concept here and one that we don’t see a lot of, the whole female hispanic lead based upon a mythology of a culture we know little about. This is when you give a book until the end of the first arc to see if they can pull it together before dropping it because the hope and talent are there they just need to coalesce.