Fantomex finally gets his own series, but is it the one we have all been crying out for? Read on in our review below! Mild spoilers ahead!
Written by Andrew Hope
Illustrated by Shawn Crystal
• The X-Men’s own International Super-Thief in his own MAX miniseries!
• Sexy secret agents, weird weaponry, vintage champagne and a damsel in distress.
• All the uncensored action you could ever want in a comic… and MORE!
Confession time: Fantomex is my single favorite mutant. I think he’s hilarious, badass in a self-aware ironic way that youngsters like me love, and even though he’s just another Wolverine wannabe archetype he’s ultimately self-aware and on a much more subtle level than, say, Deadpool. Also, he’s constantly doing a fake French accent. How could I not love him?
If it sounded like he hated women, I guess. Because ultimately, that’s the vibe “Fantomex MAX” #1 gave me.
Now, I know that the MAX imprint is separate from continuity. It’s a very GRITTY and very REAL imprint where RATED M events can happen or be performed by your favorite characters without them having to look the Marvel Universe proper in the eye. That said, there’s no mandate that says MAX titles NEED to be filled with swear words and sexual content, right? Because Andrew Hope writes like someone being held at gunpoint by a frustrated twelve-year old who desperately wants a book with the same level of maturity he does.
Fantomex (or FantoMAX since I’d really like to separate this version of the character from my beloved Jean-Philipe) is on a mission to steal a living gun with his living spaceship while being tracked down by a secret agent and her even crueler and deadlier superior officers. In all honesty, that’s a pretty interesting set-up. It’s even cooler to have said female agent, Rhona Flemyng, be one of the points of view within the comic. What’s not so cool is having her description be “DEDICATED. INTENSE. LOOKS GREAT IN SKINTIGHT LEATHER.” Or having Rhona be in her underwear at any available moment.
But this is comic books! Women are half-naked all the time. Even though that’s still not ok, I concede the point. Maybe this comic isn’t actively misogynist, just cheesecaking like a ton of other comics do. Still a really awful thing to do, but at least it’s not going out of its way to be disrespectful towards women in ways we have rarely seen bef- oh, is that the book’s two separate rape jokes I hear a-callin’? Yep! One of the members of Rhona’s team continually threatens to rape her, but that’s okay! It’s a joke! Because the alleged rapist is also a woman.
[CUE THE PATRIARCHY LAUGHING]
Remember the time I called Kick-Ass 2 a disgusting pile of crap for its use of attempted rape as a punchline? Yeah, my mind hasn’t changed on that even a little.
The misogyny doesn’t even stop there, and ends up being more casually ingrained into the comic in one of the stupidest ways possible. You know EVA, Fantomex’s living spaceship? As the only other female in this book without a physical form, she is relegated to the trope of “clingy psycho girlfriend” constantly ripping Rhona for potentially stealing her man and being dismissed like nothing but an annoyance by FantoMAX for nearly the whole book. Pretty odd considering that the relationship between Fantomex and EVA has always been a mutually respectful one, and that EVA is usually the voice of reason for the relatively unstable Fantomex. Essentially, they were a relationship that was doing just fine until EVA was cast as the bitchy wife.
Well, at least she’s just a ship right? No way they can sexualize he- OH FLIP MY PANCAKES THEY DID.
Normally in reviews like these I try to act a little sympathetic to the artist for being dragged down by an ignorant script, but Shawn Crystal’s art here is also pretty bad. The overall pop-art feel for some of the panels is great and Crystal is definitely enjoying the free-slow style of his panels, set against a background of Ben-Day dots that also appear in the interiors, beautifully colored by Lee Loughridge. Crystal even draws some really great FantoMAX, though usually when he’s in the mask; FantoMAX’s eyes are still hilarious in some panels. Unfortunately, in some panels Crystal just absolutely forgets how torsos work. Not in the usual “Comic Book Girls” way where women twist their bodies in shapes that would break their entire bodies in other mediums. That occasionally happens, but no, Crystal genuinely forgets how bodies work in some fight scenes. I genuinely cannot describe one of the fight scenes outside of saying that it looks like someone slipped during a rehearsal for West Side Story and someone’s fist managed to slip through three different people.Continued below
Other than that, Crystal’s art is definitely very expressive. He’s totally getting the faux-70’s style this book calls for and his panel layout/Ben-Day collaboration with Loughridge is fun. But Crystal still draws every woman in some demeaning pose; at least the back-breaking experienced by women elsewhere is experienced by both genders here. So that counts for something.
Really, I may sound frothing mad at this book, but I’m not, son. I’m just disappointed. Fantomex is seriously one of my favorite Marvel characters and to see him featured in such a disgusting book is really disheartening. I know that he’s supposed to be part satire, and the MAX line is meant to be Sooper Dooper Mature, but if there’s any self-awareness to be found here, it has escaped me. just as any interest in this book has from my mind. Sorry Fantomex, hopefully you can try for a new writer as part of All-Now Marvel Now!
Final Verdict: 2.3 – Not just a bad book, but a disgustingly disappointing one. Also casually hateful too.