The Giant-Size X-Men one-shots have tried to balance focusing a spotlight on one particular character while continuing a narrative surrounding Storm’s impending death, and some have been more successful in maintaining that balance than others. The latest in this line is writer Jonathan Hickman and artist Rod Reis’ Giant-Size X-Men: Fantomex, and while there are intriguing aspects of this comic for long time fans of the character, the overall balance is unfortunately quite off. It all results in an issue that takes a long time to not say very much, nor does it move the overall plot forward in any substantial way until the very end, and its zeniths aren't sufficient to overcome those flaws.
After a quick look at Fantomex's origin, things continue to move forward in time, and each sequence has Fantomex journeying into the World to meet his progressive twin clone. Each time he comes in he has a different group with him, and these sequences showcase the character's cunning and wit well.
Fantomex is a get-the-job-done kind of guy, so if that means using others as live bait so be it, but he does it with all the flair and charm of James Bond. That's always been a hallmark of Fantomex, and Hickman showcases that aspect of his character wonderfully throughout.
Because the story primarily takes place in the World, Reis is able to let his imagination run wild, playing with not only the visual style of different sequences but also the book's layout and style. At one point readers even discover a page that follows the twist patterns and flips upside down, and this willingness to take chances is a perfect compliment to who Fantomex is as a character, as well as the World he sometimes calls home.
For all the enjoyment I received seeing the Hellfire Club made to look like imbeciles, none of those adventures into the World held much relevance to the overall plot, as that only moves forward in the last few pages. Granted, those pages are fantastic, and sufficiently hooked me as to where Giant-Size X-Men is going next, but if I'm reading a one-shot about Fantomex it would be nice to actually see a payoff for this particular aspect of the story in his own issue. It feels like reaching the end of a race and, right before crossing the finish line, someone moves the line several feet forward.
If this was a traditional series I wouldn't think anything of it, but here it's too much like a bait-and-switch, and I can't help but think there was some room to trim those other stories, still convey the main point, and get the payoff all in the same issue. Or, at least leave readers having run miles to only progress a few feet.
There's a lot to like here, especially for fans of Fantomex, but honestly, it feels like this comic doesn't know what it wants to be. It's not a fun and lighthearted tale made to simply celebrate the character, nor is it a major step forward in the Storm-centered narrative. It's something in between, and it left me feeling unfulfilled at the issue's end.
Published by Marvel Comics
On August 5, 2020
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Rod Reis0comments
Letters by Ariana Maher
Design by Tom Muller