Jonathan Hickman and Rod Reis tackle one of the X-Men’s most enigmatic supporting characters in Giant-Size X-Men: Fantomex #1. Continuing the series of Giant-Size issues, Reis and Hickman give readers a science-fiction chapter with action and intrigue.
The issue begins with a prologue, exploring the creation of Fantomex as part of the Weapon Plus program. Fantomex and The World almost feel like Hickman creations themselves (thank you Grant Morrison and Igor Kordey), and so it’s no wonder that this fits right into some of the mythos that Hickman has built at Marvel. After this prologue, Hickman and Reis then take readers on a journey through Fantomex’s life, revealing his repeated incursions into the time-distorted laboratory called The World.
These incursions see Fantomex encounter a number of characters, old and new, as Fantomex repeatedly tries to check on something within The World’s vast defenses. The mystery builds as Reis invents new dangers for Fantomex each time he enters with a new team of allies, from the visceral and concrete to the ethereal and psychedelic.
Reis’ ability to keep the readers on their toes makes Giant-Size X-Men: Fantomex a delight to read, and the organized page layouts in the outside world contrast nicely with the disorganized panels and spreads when inside the World, creating for a sense of disorientation without losing the reader. It’s an artistic choice that doesn’t draw attention to itself, but it’s definitely felt, especially as the issue progresses and the appearance of the World gets more and more unusual.
Reis’ character designs and poses are also top notch. Reis has opted to give different variations on Fantomex’s costume throughout the different encounters while maintaining the same underlying aesthetic. There are only so many ways to make a new white bodysuit and mask, but Reis makes sure each one stands apart from the others.
For all the costume changes, this isn’t an issue that builds Fantomex’s in a way that could be considered definitive. Hickman and Reis seem to recognize that part of the appeal of the character is that readers don’t know much about him, and while there is some new information provided here, it creates more intrigue rather than diminishing it. For some readers, that is perfect, but others may find the issue to be lacking in depth.
That being said, fans of Hickman’s enigmatic science fiction are going to find a lot to love, as are fans of Fantomex. Rod Reis’ artwork is mind-bending and gorgeous. Though the issue doesn’t immediately spell out its connection to the larger story with Storm, it slowly becomes apparent in a satisfying way.