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For John Leguizamo’s New Superhero ‘PhenomX,’ Representation Matters

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at October 1, 2021

“I was a huge superhero fan when I was a kid,” said actor/director/writer/comedian John Leguizamo, “but I really wanted to see characters in the comics who looked like me.”

Several decades into a successful career in film and stage, Leguizamo (John Wick, Super Mario Brothers) is launching his own comic, PhenomX, featuring a story and creative team rooted squarely in Latinx culture. Since the medium is relatively new to him, he’s enlisting the help of one of the most successful comic creators/publishers/entrepreneurs of the past three decades, Image Comics co-founder Todd McFarlane, co-creator of Venom and creator of Spawn.

Leguizamo and McFarlane met on the set of the 1997 live-action adaption of McFarlane’s signature creation, Spawn, where Leguizamo played the diabolical clown, Violator. The two renewed their relationship at a comic convention a few years back. After Leguizamo adapted his one-man show Freak as a graphic novel, he wanted to get deeper into the medium by launching an ongoing superhero series and reached out to McFarlane.

“I couldn’t ask for a better mentor than Todd,” said Leguizamo. “He not only transformed the entire business, but he also created the best-selling superhero of color [Spawn is African-American], so I’m hoping to follow in his footsteps.”

McFarlane said he was happy to lend a hand, especially to such a strong creative project. “If the situation was reversed and I had to act in a movie, I’d be grateful for John’s help. In this case, I’m the one with useful skills.” McFarlane is drawing a variant cover for the first issue and publishing PhenomX through Image Comics after a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2020.

The Latinx creative team launching Leguizamo’s new hero includes artist Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez—author of the comic series La Boriqueña, who is serving as editor and creative director for the title as well as cover art by Jim Muñiz, José Marzán, Jr., and Juan Fernández, with colors by Chris Sotomayor. Additional creators include writers Aram Rappaport, Joe Miciak and Damian Slattery, artist Chris Batista, inker Sabrina Cintron.

“The genesis of this story is the psycho-social erasure of Latinx people,” said Leguizamo. “We’ve been in America for 500 years, we contribute significantly to the economy and the culture, but we’ve largely been invisible in popular entertainment.”

In PhenomX, the adverse environmental conditions in Latinx neighborhoods of New York make the residents more likely to manifest superpowers. Protagonist Max Gomez is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit, then, in a desperate bid for freedom, volunteers for experiments in the prison hospital that activate his latent abilities as a shape-shifter. He agrees to help authorities track down super-powered villains in exchange for early release.

Leguizamo says he’s planning on PhenomX being an ongoing series and has already plotted the first three “seasons” worth of story arcs. Needless to say, there’s already entertainment industry interest before the first issue has even seen the light of day. Leguizamo confirmed they are in talks with executives on the streaming side. McFarlane pointed out that this is the kind of property that gets a lot of interest because DC and Marvel superheroes are already locked up by WarnerMedia and Disney


“John is well regarded in the Latino entertainment world,” said McFarlane, “and we are both hoping that his character not only makes an impact here but across the globe, regardless of your background. Cool comic books should have a place everywhere.”

PhenomX #1 will be available at comic book shops , and digital platforms, including Amazon, Kindle, Apple Books, comiXology, and Google Play on Wednesday, November 3 (SRP $6.99).


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