"Mezmeriza"

Artist Chris Shehan’s cover art for “Mezmeriza,” a two-part story in the “Spiralmind” comic book series about a mind-controlling woman with a circus that travels from town to town, turning people to monsters.

Nineveh – a city that grew so big, it tripped into itself – is now a desperate dive, a place of cults and monsters. Nineveh’s only light is Spiralmind, a hero equipped with high-tech battle armor, fighter’s fists and moxie.

Phi3 Comics and its “Spiralmind” series were created in El Paso in 2004 by longtime friends Benito Perez and Matt Rothblatt.

“It started with those 1940’s films, the Universal monster films, and then I’d see the black and white Superman shows as a kid,” Perez said. “I didn’t understand how come he couldn’t save people from monsters.”

Comic enthusiasts can check out “Spiralmind” at this year’s EPCON, April 15-17 at the EP Convention Center. The story mixes science and religion, the occult and superheroes. It tells the story of Ben Landry, a Jewish electrical engineer by day and a monster trouncer named Spiralmind by night. He tries to stop the return of the Nephilim, creatures created by crossbreeding the sons of God and daughters of men. They appear in the Hebrew Bible and several non-canonical Jewish and Christian writings, and some of these stories connect the Nephilim to the fallen angels.

“We said ‘What if certain things from the Bible were taken seriously?’,” Rothblatt said.

Helping Spiralmind fight these angry demons will be his connection with a mystical dimension of knowledge and power, also called Spiralmind.

“He manipulates the golden ratio Phi,” Perez explained. Phi, or the golden ratio, is a number – 1.61803399 – said to be one of the mathematical patterns of certain natural objects, i.e. the spiral pattern of the seeds in a sunflower, snail shells, the human cochlea and galaxies. “Manipulating that ratio allows him to go into different time domains, but also to travel to different galaxies and universes.”

There are two “Spiralmind” comic series. The main series combines the noir genre with demons.

“This is the only book I’ve worked on that hasn’t been in color,” said newest and current “Spiralmind” artist Chris Shehan. He did colors on the previous “Spiralmind” covers. “When you’re using black and white and grey, it’s more about shapes and shadows. A lot of people doing black and white comics, I feel, miss the boat on that. They’re not thinking, ‘How can I use black and white in a new way?’”

Shehan did art for another local comic called “Hell Paso.” He’ll make his Spiralmind debut in “Mezmeriza,” a two-part story about an evil Svengali-like mind-controlling woman with a circus that travels from town to town, turning people to monsters.

While the comics may not be complete before EPCON, art and posters will be available. Both of “Spiralmind’s” newest adventures are slated for a summer release.

The other “Spiralmind” comic is a colored “monster of the day” series of one-shots (single issue stories) where Spiralmind solves mysteries and clobbers baddies like Golden Age comics from the ’40s.

“We take it just as seriously,” Rothblatt said. “The comic stays true to the story – it’s just a different feel: more action-packed, less cerebral page turners for kids and adults.”

The next Spiralmind story is called “Muses.”

“The antagonist, Dante Evans, summoned these demons from another dimension, but they’re antimatter,” Perez said. “When they cross into our universe, it’s matter colliding with antimatter. Spiralmind has 19 days before the universe collapses.”

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