It’s another X-week here at the Marvel Rundown! Last week saw the release of the latest in the Dawn of X line of books with X-Factor. Long story short: it was fantastic. This week, we’ll be highlighting Giant-Size X-Men: Fantomex, the latest Marvel Method one-shot from Jonathan Hickman and his New Mutants collaborator Rod Reis.

All that and more, ahead on this week’s Marvel Rundown!

Giant-Size X-Men: Fantomex #1

Giant-Size X-Men: Fantomex #1

Story & words by Jonathan Hickman
Art, story, and cover by Rod Reis
Lettering by Ariana Maher

The current series of Giant-Size X-Men one-shots has had more hits than misses, and this week’s issue featuring Fantomex is definitely the best of the bunch. Despite a connection to the initial Jean Grey and Emma Frost one-shot, this reads as a relatively standalone tale about a brotherly connection and a weird time-warped zone. Which, oddly, appears in Hickman’s work pretty frequently? Am I making that up?

For some reason or the other, Hickman’s best X-Men work post HoXPoX has been his work with artist Rod Reis. Their New Mutants run was a focused, delightful arc that offered some big laughs. Reis is a phenomenal talent with an eye for clear action, expressive characters, and unique designs. His rendering of Fantomex’s repeat destination, The World, is impressive and looks different with each recurring visit. You get the sense that The World is unlike any other place on the planet, with varying geographies and creature designs. I’m not familiar with Fantomex at all so I was incredibly impressed with the range of outfits and designs Reis adorned the character with. For all I know these may be his various looks over his publication history, but they looked really cool.

From Giant-Size X-Men: Fantomex #1

I used ‘focused’ to describe Hickman’s New Mutants work, and it seems like an apt term for this issue as well. It’s entirely standalone, and you can read this without having read any of Hickman’s previous work or any recent X-Men story. Like I said, I’m not familiar with the character at all so I get the sense that he’s an outsider, someone who has his foot in a lot of corners of the Marvel Universe but doesn’t necessarily belong to any one side. He’s probably a villain? I couldn’t say. I don’t want to say much about the plot because the fun of this issue for me was discovering what exactly was going on along the way, but his repeated journeys to The World were really fun and oftentimes hilarious affairs since he had such a blatant disregard for the people he’s brought along with him.

Final Verdict: I’m giving this a BUY. This over-sized one-shot is a brilliant and focused tale that can be read without having read any previous issue. Reis’ art alone is worth the price of admission.

From Giant-Size X-Men: Fantomex #1

Rapid Rundown! 

  • Deadpool #6
    • Wade Wilson invades Krakoa in a story I didn’t know I needed. Kelly Thompson is no stranger to Marvel’s merry mutants, having co-written Uncanny X-Men prior to the HoX/PoX relaunch as well as helmed a Rogue & Gambit series, and it was nice to see her tackle Rogue again and follow-up on the hijinx with Deadpool from that series. Kevin Libranda‘s art is vastly different from that of regular series artist Chris Bachalo, but it fits in well with the look of the X-line of books, appropriate for the story in this issue. I only occasionally check in on Deadpool as I find the character can be…a little much, and he came close to being that in this issue, but luckily Wolverine was there to stab him a few times and shut him up. A really fun done-in-one story that just might have me coming back for more from this series. —JG
  • Empyre #4
    • Entering the back half of the Empyre event, and the story seems to be running out of steam. For as important as the battle in Wakanda has been made to sound, we’ve ultimately seen very little of it (I know there was an entire tie-in miniseries around the battle that was scrapped post-Diamond shutdown, which in retrospect seems like poor planning on Marvel’s part), instead spending most of our time with the leaders of the Kree/Skrull and Cotati empires. Obviously those are important pieces of the story, and this issue fleshes out both Hulkling and Quoi’s current positions. I did particularly enjoy a twist that took place involving She-Hulk (though I admit I’d been anticipating it since early in the series), but otherwise it just didn’t feel like there was much meat in this issue to sink my teeth into (I suppose that’s what all the tie-ins are for, though). Here’s hoping this event can rebound and finish as strong as it began. —JG
  • Lords of Empyre: Celestial Messiah #1
    • The long-awaited Marvel debut of writer Alex Paknadel has finally come. This Empyre tie-in with art by Alex Lins delves into Quoi’s relationship with his parents, specifically his mother, and makes extensive use of flashbacks to tell its story. This was an engaging and gripping read. These are all-new characters to me but Paknadel finds an emotional core that really resonated. Couple that with some unsettlingly beautiful artwork, and you have the best tie-in of this event yet. —HW
  • Star Wars #5 
    • This was a ton of fun. It’s been a hell of a long time since the last issue was released but I was able to keep up with what was going on. Luke still has that innocent farmboy disposition and it might have gotten him into a whole lot of trouble. This was a tightly-paced, fun issue that filled in even more gaps that I never really thought about when it came to the film series. HW

Next week, Empyre continues its weekly rampage, and the Marauders finally set sail again!