Last month I did a review of Fantomex #1, so as if often the case with monthly comics, here’s a review of #2…
Before I dive in I will say this issue is much better structurally than #1 as we dive headfirst into the plot, but there’s things here and there which niggle, but I’ll get to that.
As we start this issue off, Fantomex is in a submarine at the bottom of the Marianas Trench.
We get a crisp and brief bit of exposition as to what Fantomex is doing and why he’s in this place. Nice simple superhero comics dialogue that isn’t clogged down with continuity, or fourth generation sub Alan Moore dialogue as you see in a massive amount of superhero comics today.
As I did last time I have to praise Crystal’s art. There’s a lot of potential with this lad’s art though I don’t find his depiction of Fantomex as a stupidly muscled superhero convincing. I find it amazingly forced, so that when he does draw him as this wonderfully flexible character it feels natural and fluid.
What doesn’t feel natural or fluid is this bit of dialogue that Andy Hope sticks in.
We don’t need the exposition about Nauls being called after a character from John Carpenter’s The Thing. It’d have been a nice in-joke to keep the character genuinely called Nauls rather than this couple of bubbles of Claremontesque exposition. Again though, Crystal’s art here is excellent.
I also have a problem with the dialogue here.
It’s the use of the word ‘cunt’ that seems forced. I’ve nothing against fucking swearing in fucking comics, but like Crystal’s muscly Fantomex it seems forced and trying too hard. The threat as it is without the word ‘cunt’ is fine.
There, that couple of sentences should clear out the Guardian readers.
Anyhow, Hope comes back with a blinding bit of dialogue a few panels later…
You won’t see any other comic in any genre this year with a Jimmy Saville reference…
I do actually think that when Hope is more comfortable in a slightly more jokey, more fun, even camp tone than the more traditional superheroics that’s come up in the two issues so far. I know this isn’t a style the hardcore superhero readers of 2013 enjoy as they want grim grimness with extra grimness on top and a side-order of mutilation and a big glass of gore, but there’s something nice about bad guys being bad, good guys caring about a bloke called Nauls and an anti-hero who isn’t a rapist thug but a charming gentleman thief. It’s simple but Hope never makes it simplistic.
This is an example of what I mean.
It’s fun. Frankly making this a Max title means that it’s cut out a potential larger audience. Ah well.
Anyhow, the rest of the issue is involved with setting up the plot, so there’s a lot more exposition, a conversation with a hologram that reminds me of a scene from Doctor Who, but I know Andy’s not seen the new series so it’s not a rip off or even inspired, and lots of people standing around talking. This is a problem of all superhero comics going back decades in that at some point you’re going to have people standing around explaining who is doing what to whom and why, but Hope makes these scenes pass as quickly as possible, plus Crystal’s art makes it easier to sail through.
After several pages of setting up the meat of the plot, the issue leaves both our heroes (Fantomex and Agent Fleming) in peril. I won’t talk about this yet as obviously it’s to be resolved next issue, so you’ll wait til then.
All in all, Fantomex #2 is a vast leap on from the first issue. It’s got a great tone at times as Hope’s voice begins to be found, and Crystal’s art improves though tone down the superheroic cliched muscles! I do still think that both creators are struggling to be comfortable with the main character but they’re doing as good a job as possible, and as said, I do think the Max format is just an excuse for tits, gore and swearing to make it seem ”mature” but in this case, it doesn’t seem at all suited to the story as it could very easily be made a book read by a wider audience.
Also, Jimmy Saville being referenced in an American superhero comic. That’s glorious…
Be back next month for #3!