Actor John Leguizamo is teaming with La Borinqueña creator Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez and a stunning team of Latinx artists to develop PhenomX, a new comic book series that aims to "to inspire the Latin youth community and to celebrate the contributions of Latin artists to the comic book world." Leguizamo is just one of a number of celebrities who have worked with Miranda-Rodriguez to promote comics with minority characters and creators, with others including Rosario Dawson, Darryl McDaniels of Run DMC, and Sesame Street icon Sonia Manzano. Miranda-Rodriguez recently won the Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award, presented at the Eisner Awards at Comic Con International in San Diego.
The Clampett Award came for his work on Ricanstruction, an anthology series that saw various writers and artists team La Bourinquena up with DC Comics heroes. The funds raised by the anthology went to help reconstruction efforts in Puerto Rico following the devastation of Hurrican Maria.
Leguizamo, best known to comic book fans for his roles in the Super Mario Bros. and Spawn movies, launched his first comic book at New York Comic Con in October 2017. Drawing from his one-man Broadway show and the Spike Lee film of the same name, Freak told the story of Leguizamo's early life, from inception (yes, the first panel is a smiley curly-haired sperm) and immigration to stardom. Its shocking cast of characters, tinted by his memory and a retro color palette, includes his tyrannical father, suicidal grandfather, and exorcist grandmother. It impeccably illustrates the joys, pains, and most awkward moments of his youth, with artwork evoking the grit and glamour of Queens, New York, in the 1970s.
"John and I were drawn to each other because of our activism and advocacy. That was what initially bonded us," Miranda-Rodriguez told ComicBook.com at the time. "He was drawn to La Borinqueña because of the character's connection to real social issues."
Here's how the project, which is being crowdfunded via Seed & Spark, is described:
Sometimes, when the powers that be knock you down, you have to transform and bring the system down with you. Years ago, the Metamorphosis Project was an illegal experimental drug trial done by the US government to try to "rehabilitate criminals." It was a failure... or so everyone thought. In present-day New York City, radiation levels are on the rise, and police reports of super-powered humans running through the streets are hard to ignore.
Meanwhile, Max Gomez has a second chance at life and fatherhood. But with growing concerns about re-entering the outside world as an ex-con, Max doesn't know where to turn. That is until he's approached by Agent Potter, a former partner of Max's deceased brother Mark. Potter presents him with an opportunity: a chance to become something greater than he thought possible. Max is enlisted to join a new and improved government trial, to fight fire with fire, and capture the "failed experiments" running free in New York.
Max gains fantastic abilities, but he still feels like a prisoner. Secrets are still being kept from him, and his target grows stronger every moment. Watch Max as he learns that he's more than just a statistic... he's more than just an ex-convict... he's more than a phenomenon... he's PhenomX.