The Children of the Phoenix opens with a battle. A young woman is one of the favorite subjects of her queen, who is an eight-armed Amazon warrior. But there is a great threat upon the land, and the time has come for the subject to fight her ruler and the ritual of Zaruga to begin. Young Ki’ara must battle Queen Joumana so that she will brave and strong enough to defeat the Children of the Phoenix.
Cut to the Children of the Phoenix, who seem far from threats to that strange kingdom. Four teens are watching a house burn down, a house that holds the bodies of their mother and little sister, slain at the hands of their father. From the fire, two of the group visit their friend the Professor, who knew their parents and their secrets. But soon the professor is shot, and mysterious supernatural events ensue.
This is the first chapter of a story that will likely take some time to come together. The two disparate parts of this story don’t seem to flow together at this point. They seem like entirely different stories grafted together into one comic book. Of course, as this series plays out, the stories will converge and we’ll discover exactly why the Queen is so afraid of these children. But at this point the two halves do not add up.
Writer Radi Lewis, along with artist Ernesto Vicente, does do a good job of making the two halves of the story seem compelling. I was intrigued by the battle in the first half. What is this kingdom that the two women live in? Why does the Queen have eight arms? Why do the Children of the Phoenix pose a threat to the kingdom when they seem so afraid of the events in their real life? And why does Joumana choose a successor in a warrior who seems too weak to be a real threat to her?
Similarly, who are these kids and why don’t they seem too devastated by the deaths? Why does one of them have the power to see another dimension? What kinds of deep dark secrets do their parents have, and why do they involve this mysterious kingdom?
I just wish there was more of a direct connection between the two halves of the comic. There seem few if any hints about how the two worlds connect with each other, and more of those kinds of hints would have made the story a bit more compelling and cohesive. As it is, the reader feels a bit of shock in the transition between the battle scene and the scene at the fire. The book would have benefitted from more interaction between the two halves of the story. I also wish there had been more of a transition between the fire scene and the scene with the Professor. I think those two events are connected, but Lewis and Vicente don’t do much to connect the two events, and I also found that transition to be quite jarring.
I like a first issue that leaves a reader with lots of questions and only a smattering of answers. Radi Lewis’s script is intriguing, dropping small hints all along the way that will probably pay off later in the series. I’m looking forward to spending more time in this mysterious world.