Hmmm, I’m not really sure what to make of this one, I love Fantomex as a character, but I was kind of disappointed here. Andrew Hope is a new writer to me, and whilst he throws plenty of outrageousness and MAX-level stuff at the reader here, it doesn’t quite hang together for me.
Perhaps part of my problem here is the art, Shawn Crystal is a decent artist, but his cartoonish style doesn’t really fit my idea of what a MAX book should look like. It’s all very stylished and it means the violence doesn’t hit, and the sexiness doesn’t work either. Really, the best thing about this book so far is the amazing covers by Francesco Francavilla, It would have been so much better if he was drawing the interiors, but maybe Crystal will grow on me as the story develops into something even crazier and more suited to his style.
The story here begins with Fantomex stealing some kind of weird, flesh-gun from a secret research base and fighting a security guard in a bad-ass robo-suit. Fantomex of course defeats him, but as he makes his escape with EVA, a secret-agent (Rhona Flemyng) has followed him. He kicks her off of EVA, and she is dressed-down by her superiors, who bring in a mysterious group called ‘Grover Lane’ to help her track down Fantomex. Grover Lane quickly reveal themselves to be evil dicks, who kill all of Flemyng’s fellow agents, and one of them, another woman, reveals she’s going to rape Flemyng. I suppose Lesbian Rape is a bit shocking, but it didn’t really register for me, and did feel a bit sub-Mark Millar shock-tactics.
I did like how Hope wrote the central character of Fantomex here, we see him at his dickish best, but also how he does have a noble side, such as sending Flemyng flowers, and also how he just gives away his money. He’s such a strange, unique character, and I love it. Less good is how Hope handles Fantomex’s space-ship/assistant, EVA, who is written like a jealous wife, which doesn’t really jibe with her previous portrayals. But I can let that slide, the MAX line is not the Marvel Universe.
So yes, whilst I was a bit let down by this issue, I’m still going to give the series a chance, I love the character, and we’ve only just been introduced to the other cast members. Grover Lane’s brutality is surprising, but I hope that Hope is going to have more than just violence up his sleeve for the next issue, and that, as I said, the story can rise to the cartoonish levels of Crystal’s art, which is good, just not entirely suited to the story. I did really like Lee Loughridge’s colours here, as he uses some cool, pop-art, Benday dot stuff. He’s a fantastic colourist.