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Marvel Legends
by yo go re

Take that, copyright law!

The Mysterious Fantomex... villain or hero? Only he can decide.

Fantomex was introduced just about the time Grant Morrison's New X-Men story went off the rails. He was introduced in the same story that gave us the stupid, stupid idea that "Weapon X" was actually "Weapon Ten," despite the 28 years of real-time history that said otherwise. He was based on the Italian comic character Diabolik, who most readers will recognize from the video for the Beastie Boys' "Body Movin'," which itself parodied the 1968 film Danger: Diabolik (also famous for being riffed on the final episode of MST3K). And Diabolik himself was based on the French character Fantomas, who was a villain, but proved so popular that people wanted to read stories specifically about him, and he was often portrayed as more of an anti-hero - sound familiar?

Since Fantomas is in the public domain, Morrison just scooped him up and dropped him in the comics. Fantomex was introduced as the most wanted thief in Europe, and he came to the X-Men for help after stealing proof of the government's complicity in the Weapon Plus program. Of course, his telepathy-proof mask made it tough to verify any of that.

It's hard to identify, since it hasn't been used too much yet, but Fantomex gets his body from Hasbro's two-pack Wolverine. That explains all the superfluous straps on his boots, gloves and thighs, and also why you can see veins though the sleeves of his coat (which came from Nick Fury). This isn't a perfect solution to creating a Fantomex action figure, but when you think about how everything except the head is a re-use of existing molds, it's turned out pretty well. Now clearly, an original sculpt would have been more accurate to the comics, but all things considered, this is good.

Not so good? The paintjob. It's applied well, but... wait, let's start at the beginning. Originally, Fantomex's costume was pure white, similar to how Fantomas was portrayed in the popular Mexican comics. The prototype shown at SDCC '09 was the same way. This figure, by contrast, has big jagged black lines all over his body. That would be his Uncanny X-Force costume, except the body of that is grey, not white. You know, because everybody on X-Force wears black and grey? So this figure splits the difference between his two costumes, and really does justice to neither of them. The lines are all incredibly crisp, and even line up decently over the joints, but we'd still prefer they weren't there. Or if Hasbro didn't think a plain white figure would sell, he could have one of this series' many variants: do an actual X-Force Fantomex and a classic appearance one, too. On the plus side, the white is white, not white with painted blue shadows. Hasbro, keepin' things simple!

Fantomex's mutant power is that his central nervous system exists outside his body, in the form of the flying-saucer-like E.V.A. (another reference to Danger: Diabolik, where the female love interest was "Eva"). Since that would have required an entire BAF or boxed set to pull off, they instead went with his ability to shoot guns, so his only accessories are a pair of grey pistols and a belt to hang them from.

He does come with a Build-A-Figure piece, of course: the right arm of Arnim Zola. Honestly, if you didn't know who the Series 2 BAF was, you wouldn't be able to guess it from this bit. It's just a glove and a baggy sleeve, which doesn't mean anything. Granted, not a lot of people wear orange robes and purple gloves, but this is comics - it's almost as common as green and purple.

Fantomex (whose real name is Charlie Cluster 7) originally told the X-Men he was named Jean-Phillipe, a reference to actor John Phillip Law, star of Danger: Diabolik. But he was really Weapon XIII, designed to be the cool stealth killer on the Super Sentinels, a team of mutant-killers presented to the public as superheroes. He struck out on his own though, and has become a fairly decent character. Again, we wish he didn't have the black stripes, but the fact that he's a Marvel Legend at all is kind of cool.

-- 04/23/12

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