Sometimes you just have to grab a random title off the shelve and review it, which brings us to Fantomex MAX #1, new this week.
I’m going to be honest, I don’t know much about Fantomex. The first time I ever heard of him was in A+X #10 in which he “teamed up” with Black Widow. It was satisfactory. I think he has the power of misdirection, if I remember correctly. I also think he is French. Okay, okay, I’ll come clean… I know these things to be true because I do my research before writing. Some other fun facts is that he was created by Grant Morrison and Igor Kordey, based on an Italian comic, and he is an international thief. This is probably as much as is needed to really enjoy Fantomex MAX #1… which I suppose is possible.
Full disclosure, I wasn’t overly familiar with either of these creators before diving into Fantomex MAX #1, but I think that’s okay. Fantomex MAX is written by Andrew Hope, which, according to Bleeding Cool, is apparently a big deal:
Andrew Hope was the artist on Shadowmen in the early nineties, a comic book written by the teenage Mark Millar and published by Trident Comics.
(If you’re keeping score, that’s 1 point for Fantomex MAX.) The art is by Shawn Crystal, who has drawn a lot of Deadpool. Initially, the art reminded me a lot of Aeon Flux, the avante-garde, animated sci-fi series that was MTV in the ’90s. (I would call that another point for Fantomex MAX.) It had something to do with that hyper-reality, spindle-y-ness of the characters bodies (which, as I look at pictures of Aeon Flux, I don’t know how my mind connected the two, but it did). I dig it. In fact, the whole design of the book is spot on. There’s lots of interesting compositions and half-tone galore. There’s also a dude getting punched through the head, so, there you go (this is the MAX imprint, after all).
Andrew Hope’s writing is fine. It’s not overly compelling, but we are also talking issue #1. Since I don’t know the story, all I can really judge is how well did he voice the characters. Since I don’t know the characters, I guess he gets a pass (we will assume he voiced them well). His set up is as follows (kind of plot spoilers ahead!):
- Fantomex steals some kind of organic weapon.
- A government agent is unable to stop him, so she is teamed up with some secret elite squad of agents who are going to track this guy down and recover the organic weapon.
- Fantomex, being the sexy super thief that he is, reaches out to said government agent in effort to initiate a tryst.
- Secret elite squad starts freaking out and killing all kinds of people, ultimately deciding to hold government agent hostage in order to get to Fantomex.
- End issue.
Man, it’s a thing, that’s for sure, so I guess I’ll need to get Fantomex MAX #2 to figure out what is going on. Oh, and one thing to note, there sure is an entire page in French. (Impressive, Andrew Hope. I think that earns you another point.)
Before finishing this review, we need to take a moment to talk about the MAX imprint. This is, of course, Marvel’s way of getting a bit more riské with the content. The titles come with an explicit content warning on the cover, profanity is used, and usually sexual overtones are involved. I think the point of MAX is to allow creators to craft “mature” content and for it to be intentionally known that this is what’s going on (I guess regular titles kind of only get to be PG13). This unrestrained creative opportunity should allow for greater complexity and more serious storytelling, I suppose. This is not the case for Fantomex MAX #1, however. Where maybe this element will be better utilized in later issues, as for issue #1, the “MAX” content is nonessential to the story and feels a lot like when video companies would release “unrated” versions of DVDs to try and drum up more sales (most of the time the “unrated” just applied to the DVD commentary). Should this be held against the Fantomex MAX creative team? Maybe. Or, maybe you chock it up to “fan service.”
Bottom line: Is Fantomex MAX #1 worth your hard earned dollars? Honestly, I don’t know. In a time where lots of good comics are being put out by a lot of publishers, Fantomex MAX #1 might not make the list. However, as I’ve said before, we’re only at issue #1. We’ll keep our eye on this thing, and, who knows, maybe it will turn out to be a “must have” trade. Only time will tell.