Fantomex takes center stage in Giant-Size X-Men – Fantomex #1, on sale from Marvel Comics this week. Writer Jonathan Hickman and artist Rod Reis, with letterer VC’s Ariana Maher, weave a tale, looking at the history of the character and a previously unknown relationship.
To speak of Hickman as “writer” and Reis as “artist” doesn’t quite tell the full story. Comic artists might appreciate that the two men are credited as working on “story and words” and “story and art.” I don’t know if Hickman, as Head of X, is planning on starting a new trend of acknowledging that the artist is as much a storyteller as the writer, but it’s a nice sentiment.
Writing or “Story and Words”
For readers hoping to find out the details of how Fantomex got his own body back from Xavier, who thought that that pre-Hickman plot point would be explored in any way, this story is not for you.
What Hickman creates instead is a historical, cyclical narrative with some cool cameos and references to previous stories, all while exploring a relationship set up in the opening pages of the issue.
It isn’t a bad story, and it is a more personal story for the title character than the Nightcrawler and Magneto issues were, but it is unclear how this might fit into his larger Krakoan narrative. Or is this just Hickman’s chance to writer individual character stories that don’t fit into that narrative? Given the high concept nature of “the World,” which Fantomex attempts to break into multiple times throughout the issue, a sci-fi writer like Hickman may have simply wanted to play around with the idea.
Art & Colors or “Story and Art”
Reis’s art is beautiful in this issue. Given Fantomex’s multiple break-ins to the World, Reis is able to make each one of those encounters look unique. Not only is Reis’s character work on normal characters gorgeous in this issue, but the continually reimagined threats in the world are given unique designs, ranging from cartoony to monstrous, while the environment of the World is rendered increasingly abstract and esoteric.
Again, one wonders if Hickman and Reis just wanted to tell a story that takes advantage of the sometimes zany and high concept sci-fi nature of the World. While the plot of the story could be a little hard to follow at times, the art makes up for it.
Maher does a good job lettering the story. The lettering doesn’t overwhelm the page and supplements Reis’s art perfectly. In one scene, when two characters are upside down, Maher’s letters add to the visual effect, complementing and accenting the scene well.
Unlike a lot of the X-titles, this issue lacks any propose pages, and even the character intro page at the beginning is pretty sparse on details. This might’ve been the one issue where an expositional prose page might’ve come in handy, but Hickman, Reis, and Maher tell a very visual story, a rare feature in the Dawn of X.
As with most of these Giant-Size issues, I keep expecting to see character stories that focus on how the title character is adjusting to the new post-Krakoa world and maybe even addressing any lingering plot points about the transition between the pre-Hickman X-era and the current one. The purpose that these one-shots serve to the overarching narrative is unclear still, but Hickman does play a long game, and details that one thinks they can ignore early on sometimes pay big dividends.
What did you think of Giant-Size X-Men – Fantomex #1? Tell us in the comments below!