Francavilla FTW!

Francavilla FTW!

Fantomex MAX #1

Written by Andrew Hope

Art by Shawn Crystal

Colors by Lee Loughridge

Letters by Joe Sabino

Review by Joey Braccino

Fantomex MAX #1 is… interesting.

And I mean that in all it’s passive-aggressive glory.

After all the hub-bub about his new writing gig at Marvel and the is-he-or-isn’t-he-doing-Marvelman rumor-mongering, Andrew Hope’s MAX miniseries featuring everyone’s favorite pseudo-French super-thief dropped today.

And it’s… interesting.

Fantomex is (and always has been since his debut under the deft direction of Grant Morrison back in New X-Men) a tricky character to write. He’s got some quirky special talents—multiple brains, nimble acrobatics, gunslinging, and an artificial intelligence connected to his nervous system—but he’s also a throwback to French neo-noir amorality. Fantomex is, for all intents and purposes, a seductive, charming thief with super-powers and a mask. Sure, Rick Remender was able to take the character on an emotional intense journey as a central character in Uncanny X-Force, but emotional intensity isn’t exactly the focus of the MAX imprint.

Instead, Hope gives us a gritty, violent, graphic yarn light on continuity. The ladies in the book—from the damsel-in-distress, Agent Rhona Flemyng, to the predatory Alexandra Macready—rock low-cut tops and, in some scenes, no pants. Sure they carry guns and do kung fu, but they’re really just eye-candy or sexual stand-ins for what is otherwise a book that swaps engaging dialogue and storytelling for cusswords and gore. And it’s not even that gory or action-packed, really. Nor is it filled with espionage or intrigue. Missing is the energy of a heist comic or even the vibrancy of a superhero comic. Fantomex MAX #1 isn’t really anything aside from a bit of a throwback to ‘60s spy TV. And even at that, it misses the mark.

That throwback element, however, results in some of the best artwork in comics today. Shawn Crystal, a long-time inker for Marvel, brings a pop-art sensibility to Fantomex #1, mixing exaggerated lines with a Ben-Day stippling element reminiscent of Warhol and Lichtenstein. Lee Loughridge, comics legend, employs a stark color palette, filled with beiges, blues, and soft pinks. The result is a splendidly eccentric artistic amalgamation, and I much preferred looking at this book than reading it.

Verdict 

Skip it. If you do buy it, it’s a great visual experience, but otherwise, it’s an empty MAX book more interested in fitting in F-words than telling an innovative, engaging story. Bummer.

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About The Author

Joey Braccino took his BA in English and turned it into an Ed.M. in English Education. Currently, he brings comics back in a big way all day every day to public education. In addition to proselytizing the good word of comics to this nation’s under-aged citizenry, Joey is a firm believer in the academic and literary merits of cultural media more broadly—particularly film, radio, pop journalism, and social media. #Excelsior!

2 Responses

  1. The Mad Titan

    I agree with the review. I don’t know what to make of this book. If feel like I want to love it but just can’t. After 3 readings it’s still really wierd and lacking something I can’t quite put my finger on.

    The art is cool but the fingers and calves really bug me. The fingers look like they belong on a gecko. I’m not sure if this is just the style or the artist can’t draw fingers well so he stylized them. The calf muscles are HUGE on these characters and distracting when looking at the art. Which I do like.

    I’m not sold on the lack of backgrounds. I get the pop-art style, and I like it but a strictly dotted background with similar sized “panels” to a normal book seems a bit of a cheat.

    I’m going but at least issue 2. I say that but I’m sure Ill end up getting the whole series anyway. I want to like It, maybe I’ll “get it” once the while story is done but I just don’t know about this one. It is very nice to see something different though.

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