[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Publisher: Phoenix Studios
Writer: Kayden Phoenix
Pencils: Amanda Julina Gonzalez
Inks: Hannah Diaz
Letters: Sandra Romero
Reviewed by: Seth Singleton
Jalisco is a new comic from emerging publishers Phoenix Studios. In short, Alicia is a young woman who lives with her mother. Revolutionaries recruit Alicia into a world of intrigue when her mother goes missing. Alicia’s story starts with a mission to find her mother. Soon, Alicia is training with Adelitas committed to saving women throughout her country.
Positives — Phoenix Studios
Jalisco is a standout first issue from a new company. Jalisco and Santa are published by Phoenix Studios. Phoenix is the creation of Kayden Phoenix. Jalisco together with Santa introduces the Latina superhero series A La Brava. According to her website, Phoenix formed her company in response “to the lack of diversity among a sea of generalized characterizations.” What she witnessed as a writer and director from Boyle Heights inspired her next steps.
The studio was created with a mission, “To create a superhero mindset in every marginalized individual regardless of age, demographic, socio-economic class, etc.”
In short, the Universe of Latina Superheroes is comprised of solo titles. Accordingly, each book introduces the origin story of the heroine. In addition, each character will address a specific social injustice. Loquita, Ruca, and Bandita are scheduled for release later this year.
Phoenix is the writer for each title. Furthermore, the opportunity to create a universe with one source could introduce a new way for smaller companies to lay the foundation of a universe. In summary, Phoenix Studios takes a bold premise and pushes forward.
Great books address powerful themes head-on. In this case, Jalisco confronts the international problems of human trafficking and femicide. Every day women go missing. Many are no older than girls. The story goes beyond The Women of Juarez and over 370 women from the city of Juarez who were killed between 1993 and 2005. Solutions must go beyond the efforts of the United Nations. In this case, change comes from the people.
Positives — Folklorico
Jalisco is a dance. It is a variation of Folklorico dance. Folklorico features exaggerated ballet movements like pointed toes and exquisite choreography. Each variation reflects local styles. The techniques reveal the culture at the heart of the local communities.
Alicia uses Folklorico to remember her mother. Alicia’s teachers try to train Alicia how to fight in the ring. She is not a boxer. Instead, Folklorico holds the answer. Alicia’s dance steps and hand movements are the keys to defending herself.
Positives — Characters
In the first place, Alicia is wealthy. She trades the eggs her chickens lay for food and necessities. Alicia’s joy comes from the simple pleasures of home and dance. Alicia’s mother trains her every day. She is Alicia’s entire world. Her mother’s disappearance turns that world upside down.
Alicia asks the police for help. She goes to a local bar and asks the patrons for help. Everyone tells Alicia to move on with her life. Instead, Alicia finds help from Adelitas. Incidentally, these women know what happened to Alicia’s mother. However, telling Alicia is a different story. The Adelitas train Alicia to distract her from the awful truth and channel her loss into action.
The leader of Adelitas is a strong woman. Her name is Adella Santos. In this case, Adella Santos is the last of the original Adelita of the Mexican Revolution.
To begin with, Adella Santos brings Alicia into the fold. Consequently, she offers Alicia the chance to do more than find out how her mother died. In fact, she makes it possible for Alicia to change her future. Alicia is not the only young woman who needs her help. Instead, Adella Santos is the mentor for three women who are the future of Adelitas.
Positives — Art
In short, there is a lovely intersection of Disney and Looney Tunes that Amanda Julina Gonzalez’s pencils evoke. Incidentally, the art is accessible for younger audiences and is refreshing for older readers. Measured inks by Hannah Diaz strengthen each line.
Colors by Mirelle Ortega, Gloria Felix, and Addy Rivera Sonda capture daylight, sunsets, and the sepia tones of the past with vibrant shades.
Sequential art or comics relies on the imagination of the reader to fill in the gaps between panels. Subsequently, the gaps in time between specific panels in Jalisco are uneven. Incidentally, this can create a distraction if measured too critically. However, trusting the pace of the narrator is easier than implementing a personal expectation on the space between panels.
Kayden Phoenix trusts her readers to understand the spaces between Jalisco‘s panels. When a comic does not need to spell out every step the panels become a personal interpretation. Dialogue exchanges overlap. There are distinctive breaks in looks and movement. The moments are matched by actions. Each one reads like a snapshot from the past, present, and future. The iconography feels timeless.
Jalisco is the origin story of a different kind of hero. Alicia does not strike the triumphant pose. She is a warrior of stealth, poise, and resilience. In the fight between a truth and an ugly lie, Jalisco stands as the champion who gives truth a fighting chance.