What I thought of Fantomex #4

Thoughts about #1#2 and #3.

We reach the final issue of this four issue series.

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We start this episode on a cliffhanger as our Baddie decides to reveal his plan to kill as many people as possible using the meteor defence weapon they’ve all broken into. Unfortunately the authorities aren’t going to nuke the place from orbit because…

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So the only person who can save millions is Fantomex, except he’s incapacitated by Stirling’s powers but thanks to something introduced in the first issue, Fantomex is able to get free for the final showdown with Stirling which takes on Bottinesque proportions as the pair fight.

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Without giving anything away too much, the final confrontation is suitably satisfying, as is the resolution of the Fantomex/Flemyng relationship which sets up potential future meetings.

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There’s also a nice end with Eva which wraps things up and it’s The End.

So overall what did I think?

The series suffered badly from a patchy at best opening issue but as said at the time, there’s enough potential to carry on reading and anyone who did would have been rewarded with a solid action story that was well written and beautifully drawn by Shawn Crystal. Part of the problem sadly was the comic press and initial reviews which were on the whole quite scathing, but considering the utter rubbish Marvel and DC pump out, Fantomex stood out as at least trying something different. Alright, this isn’t a series brimming with originality but it’s something different from the reams of grim superheroes talking about how they were raped, or their parents killed but there’s actual puns, bad jokes and a lightness of touch missing from too many superhero comics.

Where the series had weaknesses was the meandering first issue left it trying to play catch up so Hope has to pull it back which is the equivalent of going in at half time 5-0 down in the hope that the 17-year old striker and the 40 something veteran sitting on the bench can pull it back in the second half and they did. Not without some problems though.

One of the problems is the treatment of Agent Flemyng. She’s beaten, possibly raped and generally slapped around waaaay too much. Now she does rise above all this and remains a strong character but if there’s any way for those early accusation of misogyny to stick, then it’s with this. I’d rather not see another female character in comics become a punchbag for men as that sends out an iffy message to women, though Hope generally does write good female characters in this (the flashback cameos of Fantomex’s mother is great, if somewhat too brief) story, this is a weak spot. The riff on The Champions was fun but I never felt the villains developed much at all, which is a pity but they were suitably bad bastards to make the reader root for Fantomex, Eva and Flemyng.

Of course one does have to take comics ‘journalism’ with a pinch of salt as this frankly shite page shows, the general standard of journalism, let alone criticism, in comics is around the level of a pissy teenager who’s just found out they’re always going to be a virgin.

There’s also problems with pacing. The second issue An Awful Lot happens, but at least Hope remembers stories are about characters so there’s an attempt throughout the series to make Fantomex and Flemyng actual 2-dimensional characters in a superhero comic as opposed to flat images of people doing kewl stuff for da kidz! Thankfully the art glosses over some of the problems as Crystal really is a potentially big talent in the making. Yes, he does need to work on his storytelling but his designs are lovely and his layouts are fantastically designed at times. He makes a good team with Hope and it’d be nice to see them work together on something again sooner rather than later.

Overall this is a worthwhile bit of fun, problems aside of course. I still think that with very few changes this could easily have been an all-ages book, and in fact Hope sets up an all-ages Fantomex perfectly here but with both Marvel and DC not especially giving a toss about kids buying comics I suppose they’ll carry on chasing the ‘core audience’. We really do need superheroes again to be aimed at the people who they were meant for, which is another thing I agree with Alan Moore about.

So, buy the trade when it comes out. Download the comics from the splendid Comixology site, but give it a chance. It deserves it.

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2 thoughts on “What I thought of Fantomex #4

  1. Thanks, Glenn. I disagree about the notion that superhero comics are to be made exclusively for pre-teens (12 year old boys). To me, that contradicts the term “all ages”. But really, culture has changed so much these days that the 12 year old boy of the mid 1960s is nothing like the 12 year old boy of the mid 2010s. I think they are more sophisticated and have a greater understanding of the world and cultures around them, so by extension, what passed for superhero entertainment back then would never work these days. Never. A number of older comic readers profess to this urge that comics go back to that “innocent” period of comic books, but nostalgia is never good for creating works of fiction. Comics need to be looking forward, like ALL media does. Where comics fail is focusing on events, rather than characters.

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  2. Superhero books shouldn’t be for boys, but girls and children generally because that’s what they are-children’s characters. This doesn’t preclude them from being read and enjoyed by anyone but the situation we have now is that say, Batman, isn’t being read by young kids because frankly you wouldn’t give Batman to young kids anymore and that’s a tragedy.

    I do think children have always been sophisticated enough to understand certain adult themes and concepts but the current execution of mainstream comics precludes them deliberately.

    It’s entirely possible to do comics for kids that all ages can read without having a rape, or a torture scene or making all the women look like prostitutes in an all white world.

    This is something I’m going to follow up at some point when I get round to it

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