Fantomex Max #2

Issue Date: 
January 2014
Story Title: 

Andrew Hope (writer), Shawn Crystal (art), LeeLoughridge (colorist), VC’s Joe Sabino (letterer), Francesco Francaville (cover artists), Jordan D. White (editor), Axel Alonso (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (Exec. Publisher)

Brief Description: 

Grover Lane take Nauls and Flemyng to a base beneath the permafrost. There, a multinational project was assembled, a laser to destroy the meteor which will hit Earth in 2025. Fantoemx is to retrieve the skeleton key to operate the device, allowing Grover Lane to hold the world hostage. Since they need Nauls to operate the device, they begin to torture him. When Nauls holds on, a strange tentracle comes from Stirling’s forehead and attaches itself to Naul’s head. Flemyng knocks Nauls out to save him. Displeased, Stirling gives Flemyng to MacRedy, who rapes her. Fantomex travels into the depth of the Mariana trenches, where the skeleton key is in an underwater base of eccentric genius Michel Shivas. When Shivas’ hologram cannot appeal to Fantomex’s sense of morals, the base is flooded and Fantomex is attacked by a kraken.

Full Summary: 

EVA is somewhere deep in the Mariana Trench. It was too easy, embarrassing, he thought. He almost feels bad for him, Fantomex remarks. Not everyone can be as smart as him, EVA agrees. But once he gave them this silly task, it was easy-peasy to put two and two together. Fantomex continues, saying that Stirling wants the skeleton key to the most destructive device ever created by man. Not for altruistic reasons, he’d bet. What’s the reading on the hull pressure? 15,700 PSI, she replies. It’ll hold. But she warns him not to linger down here. This thing wasn’t built to withstand these pressures.

They’ve arrived, he announces as the capsule floats in front of a tower. Impressive feat of engineering, he admits. They are definitely at the right place, unless this is the Lido for buried ultra, high-tech fortresses.

EVA announces there is a definite computer intelligence inside. That moment, a giant cyborg octopus – the defense – attacks and grabs the capsule.

Fantomex admits they are in a pickle. How long until hull breach? Thirty seconds, he is told. He has a really bad idea that she’s going to hate him for in the morning

100 meters below the permafrost, the members of Grover Lane and their prisoners, Agent Rhona Flemyng and Nauls, are riding down an elevator. MacReady is nervous about bringing Fantomex in. Stirling doesn’t consider him a threat. He will retrieve the key and then they will eliminate him.

Flemyng tells the nervous Nauls to get it together. He tells her he is the backup operator. That is some shitty timing. Nauls is a nickname; his real name is Peter Withers. She ever see that movie The Thing about that alien? They watch that movie all the time here. Well, he’s the only black dude here on the base, so he’s gotta be the rollerskating dude. Who are these guys? They killed everybody!

Gaunt demands what they are doing over there. Trying to come up with some kind of plan? Flemyng tells him Nauls is terrified. They need to give him some space before he goes into shock. Gaunt grabs her by the throat and crudely threatens her.

That moment, they arrive at the bottom. Stirling admonishes Gaunt these people are their guests. There will be plenty of time for fun later.

Still in the Kraken’s clutches, Fantomex orders EVA to electrify the hull with as much power as she can in a short burst. EVA protests this will leave them with almost no power to get to the surface. Now! he shouts as the hull begins to crack. EVA complies and zaps the Kraken.

She tells him they are almost out of juice and switches to battery power. Power is restored to all nonessential services. She’s established contact with the structure’s security protocols. And is working on the structure’s doors right now.

Soon, the small capsule floats inside and Fantomex suggests playing the Alien theme. Pressure drops and he sees the inside of the airlock, the walls of which are adorned with whimsical cartoons of maritime creatures.

He marvels about the dry walls and the vibration on the other side. Among the drawings are also some nastier creatures albeit rendered in the same style. Mr. Shivas has quite the sense of humor. Love the ‘Pixar meets Lovecraft’ theme.

A mechanic voice welcomes him, telling him he’d have put the kettle on if he’d known he was stopping by.

Elsewhere, Grover Lane and their prisoners have arrived at their destination. Flemyng asks what this place is. Stirling remarks Nauls can tell her a wealth of information about this place but the Cliff Notes version is this is the last hope for humanity. It was created and founded by seven countries working behind the scenes. Flemyng remarks it looks like some kind of launch room.

It’s a firing room, Stirling corrects her. All the equipment here runs billions of calculations every second. Plotting countless variables and what if scenarios. It’s tied directly into the internet updating thousands of statistics. Population growth, crime rate, weather mapping, fauna extinction. It’s trying to predict how the end of the world will look. On March 23rd, 2025, a comet will impact the Earth somewhere around the south of France, and life as they know it will cease to exist. The impact will destroy western Europe almost immediately. The Earth in a thousand miles radius will liquefy from the heat. In hours, the surface of the Earth will be devastated by a series of earthquakes and tidal waves surging across the globe. Billions will be killed in the first few hours. Ten years later the last survivors of the human race will shuffle toward inevitable extinction. Unless they have something watching over them. Keeping them safe. Something like this orbital comet defense initiative designed to fire an intense, super-concentrated laser for a sustained period of time at the comet in order to throw it off by a degree or so.

But Grover Lane wants to use the device themselves. But in order to use it they need the service of Fantomex, “the man who can steal anything.” As he explained, seven nations funded the project and the safeguard against any one nation using the incredibly destructive power is that there are seven keys and all must be used simultaneously. Even the great Fantomex couldn’t pull that off. But as it turns out, the designer was fairly altruistic. In the event of global warfare, the ability to use the device to prevent a guaranteed apocalypse was of primary importance, and so there exists an eighth master key. They don’t know where it is but Agent Flemyng’s number one fan will find out if his reputation is deserved.

Flemyng asks what makes them think he will do it.

MacReady answers he has been impossible to catch, not impossible to reach. Flemyng’s heart is the one thing he has never been able to steal. He’ll come through.

Grabbing Nauls with a grin, Stirling explains that when Fantomex delivers the key they still need someone who knows how to operate the device and that is where Mr. Nauls comes in. But they know he won’t happily agree to their wishes. Which is why they’ve decided to torture him first.

Under the ocean:
The hologram which addresses Fantomex shows a casually dressed, stout man with spectacles. It’s an honor. To what does he owe the pleasure of being robbed by the greatest thief in history? The honor is his, Fantomex replies. It’s not every day one gets to meet a simulacrum of the greatest inventor in history.

The hologram asks how he found this place. If he says Google street view, he’ll be seriously pissed. It was relatively simple for a man of his means, Fantomex replies. Once he was given his task, the dominoes fell quickly. His main flaw was the consistency of the purchase orders set up by his dummy corporations. The type of waterproof concrete he purchased was designed for pressure found only in one place on Earth: the Marianas Trench.

The hologram tells him Fantomex has a big reputation for being a pain in the arse to the powers that be. For a thief, his altruism is pretty cool. But he needs to leave.

Fantomex replies he is undaunted by the words of a hologram. He’s been living with one for a number of years now, and a much more appealing one. No, he thinks he will remain here. He may be under duress, but the fascination is all his own. He had some time to do some research on him too, which rather whetted his appetite. Michael Shivas, the first trillionnaire in history.

The money isn’t important, Shivas replies, but it helped him get where he is today. Money not important? Fantomex scoffs. It’s second only to what he does to get it. Shivas figures that’s not why he is here. The only thing of value is his intellect and he can’t steal that.

Taking out a small device, Fantomex replies there is the master key for the orbital laser cannon Shivas designed. He explains the device analyzes the inter-spacial coordinates of any given room. He just calibrated it to look for the gaps in the wall to show him where the wall is located. He then plans on bursting through it and making off with his loot. In the end, it doesn’t matter how smart or how rich he is. Fantomex is unbeatable. This is just another tedious overthought puzzle.

That was his warning, Shivas replies. He does not repeat himself. Goodbye, Fantomex. Fantomex swears a moment later when water comes flowing down and the walls begin to crack…

Elsewhere, Stirling and his group have made good on their promise by breaking Nauls’ fingers. Flemyng urges him to stay strong. Stirling finally decides violence is not the answer here. They don’t have time. Suddenly, a strange tentacles comes out of his forehead and attaches itself to Nauls’ head. The man screams in pain.

Flemyng grabs an object from the table and hits Nauls, taking him out. Can’t mindfuck him now, can he? she asks triumphantly. Stirling orders MacReady to get that bitch out of his sight. Do whatever she wants with her, but make sure to leave some scraps for Mr. Gaunt.

MacReady shoves Flemyng into a cleaning room. Flemyng threatens that she has black belts in ten major disciplines. Unimpressed, MacReady kicks her in the face and tells her she only gets off grudge-fucking these days, so bring it on! Brutally, she beats up Flemyng. It’ll be great, she mocks the helpless woman and tosses her against a shelf. She used to be a good person, MacReady tells her. She used to be a lot like her. Conscientious, good at her job. She might live long enough to find out what changed them. But right now, all she wants is have some fun. She grabs Flemyng brutally and the other woman screams.

Under the water, there is no air left and Fantomex feels the pressure is almost too much. He heads for his oxygen bottle, which is some feet away, when the Kraken goes for him. It entered when Shivas flooded the room. Fantomex is left to wonder if he will drown or be throttled first. Or eaten, he wonders belatedly when the Kraken opens its hungry maw…

Characters Involved: 


Agent Rhona Flemyng

Gaunt, MacReady, Stirling (all Grover Lane)

Hologram of Michael Shivas

Story Notes: 

Pixar is a film studio famous for cute animated movies.

H.P. Lovecraft is a turn of the century horror author famous for nihilistic cosmic horror.

Written By: