X-Force (4th series) #4

Issue Date: 
June 2014
Story Title: 
Le Pew

Simon Spurrier (writer), Jorge Molina (artist), VC’s Joe Sabino (letterer), Jorge Molina (cover artist), Xander Jarowely (assistant editor), Daniel Ketchum (editor), Mike Marts (X-Men group editor), Axel Alonso (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (Exec. Publisher)

Brief Description: 

In Pairs, X-Force give chase to French superbeing Anais. Fantomex is to do most of the work but keeps on being upstaged by his teammates until finally Cable shoots the woman, seemingly killing her. While they wait for Anais’ teammates to come, Fantomex has a breakdown. In his mind, he talks to EVA, who points out that he is programmed to believe himself to be perfect and that the cognitive dissonance is destroying him. Fantomex finally gets over his feelings of failure by attacking and beating the French superteam alone and capturing the Necrogateur, a superbeing who can talk to the dead, for whom they staged the entire ruse. They take the Necrogateur to the headquarters to get information from the corpse of Antonio Aggasiz. He learns that Volga sent the teleporter Aggasiz to other Earths, and Earth 1287 was particularly important. Fantomex, in the meantime, realizes that his small victory wasn’t enough to stem his feelings of frustration and EVA suggests that, in order to be the best, he just has to kill everybody who’s better. 

Full Summary: 

Fantomex’ mindscape:
Well, hello there, EVA’s holographic form as a young woman fixing something greets Fantomex. Been a while since he needed a chitchat with her. If she didn’t know better, she’d say he’s been keeping her on standby.

She is a function of his engineered subconscious, he replies. A diagnostic routine. A little voice in his head. He sure knows how to make a girl feel special, she jokes.

He was recently cloned into three separate parts, at least one of which is fundamentally evil. He was uncertain how much clarity she would retain. And how much loyalty.

So why now? she asks. He admits he needs guidance of a most urgent nature. He’s having what en anglais you might call a &%$-scary, bloodcurdling, eyeball-shattering emotional breakdown of epic proportions!

Touching his shoulder, EVA points out his accent is slipping. And it wasn’t so great to begin with. He better start at the start. Oui, bien sur, he begins. Her name was Anais…

This another romantic thing? EVA scoffs. Another obsession? This time it’s different, he explains.

Past / narration
They found her prowling Montmartre. They put out a rumor yesterday about des terroristes targeting Sacre Coeur, so they knew she’d be nearby. She is… how do you say… un espion… a spy. Last survivor of the Saharan cat people… something like that. Le Fantomex does not concern himself with mission briefings. She can control cats, is invisible to psychics, she has l’agilité incroyable and a very strong sixth sense.

Jumping from rooftop to rooftop, she could already sense she was being stalked. They could not close in without her smelling the approach. That is except for MeMe. MeMe deployed an odor tag on Anais’ back before the mark even realized she was there. Such mechanical accuracy!

EVA detects a trace of jealousy. He tells her not to be ridiculous. He was purified of anything so base as envy three million cell generations before his creation. MeMe’s approach was impressive. But only the introduction to the main event.

Behind her, Anais heard a voice: “Ma Cherie… you will run, I think, eh?” Of course, she shall. Always she must play the hard to get. It is in her nature. But they both know in the end… their fateful liaison …c’est inevitable, Fantomex smarmed from a turret nearby.

He pursues. It is one of the many things… non, all the things that he does with perfection.

But to what end? EVA wonders. As if that matters, he scoffs, it is the execution of the task that defines un homme parfait such as he, not the tawdry reason behind it. The prey? Her odor tag was attuned for his heightened senses for this purpose – this chase — alone.  And so? Alors, he chased across rooftops. Leave motives for lesser men. Fantomex is beyond mere meaning. Fantomex is le triomphe of style over substance.

The woman Anais ran up a staircase and in French called for help over her wrist comm device.

MeMe told Cable who was watching from some distance away about the call. Let her. All they need is the time to run her down. That and anonymity. She start giving them details, MeMe is to shut her down.

Anais began describing Fantomex (including his unconvincing accent) and MeMe did just that.

So MeMe saved the day again? EVA asks. She’s an abstract being, Fantomex concedes. For her, this little thing is as easy as breathing. Wouldn’t have been as easy for him, huh? EVA remarks. Fantomex grumbles.

Anais was nowhere to be found. Fantomex got her scent and jumped through a roof window to corner her.

He knows what she’s saying, that he has psychological problems admitting anyone is bett— that – than him. It is an irrelevant question because nobody is better than Fantomex. Ever.

That moment, he was attacked by a bunch of cats, while Anais ran.

Naturally, he attempted to use his powers of misdirection to escape les animaux diabolique but, alors, as everyone knows the skills of illusion do not work on a cat.

That’s a terrible excuse, EVA informs him. Fantomex got split into three. One of the others got this power is all. His skill set’s been wonky for months.

The superskills of Fantomex are never this wonky! Fantomex shouts. Powers do not work on the cats. Ce’st une thing!

Suddenly, the cats let go and ran off thank to Psylocke’s intervention. She went thataway, she remarked, pointing her finger in the direction. Run Forrest!

So, Psylocke saved his life. Is that what this is about? He can’t handle that she not only rejected him romantically – She did not reject him! he shouts. She emasculated him during a mission? EVA continues. That’s not it at all, he sighs.

Fantomex ran after Anais on the street. Realizing she was too far away, he informed Cable that she was heading into the sewer. He won’t be able to make the scent marker there.

In front of Anais, there suddenly was an explosion courtesy of Marrow who cut off her way. With the tunnel blocked, Anais had to return to the streets.

EVA gets it. Psylocke’s not the only one who outdid him today. Les femmes, he sobs. From one such control and from the other such destruction. Each of them, they did things that… EVA tries to comfort him. Things that he couldn’t.

What gives, Le Pew? Cable asked. Sound like he’s blubbering. He’s fine! Fantomex shouted, running after Anais. However, instead of closing the distance, it became clear she was gaining.

Addressing him by his real name, Charlie Cluster 7, EVA tells him this is real simple. He has nanites built into his cerebral cortex. He is a programmed being. He is incapable of even conceiving of the existence of anything greater than him. That would only be a problem if there were anything greater, he points out.

See? The hardwired part of his brain believes he is perfect. But the rational part – her - is aware--- Non non, don’t say it! he shouts. …That he is as fallible as anyone, she continues. He screams in denial.

The chase continued over rooftops. She’s going to get away! Fantomex groaned. Don’t sweat it, Asterix, Cable replied and dropped her. He’s got this. Thanks for the assists, he stated sarcastically. Fantomex sobbed.

Cable checked for her pulse and got none. He warned X-Force that she had a tracker chips. Her buddies would be en route. Get to cover! As they did that, Marrow asked Fantomex if he was okay. He’s fine! he snapped. Perfect!  Parfait!

But he wasn’t, was he? EVA states. People think it’s arrogance. All that attitude, that swagger. They don’t realize how tortured he is. They don’t understand his damaged little brain. He is cognitive dissonance made flesh and it’s been driving him insane.

On the rooftop, Fantomex falls down. Psylocke tries to tell Cable, who tells her not now. They are here.

The French superbeings surround Anais. Cable identifies them as Le Coq Bleu, Capitaine Fantome, Prochaine Sortie, Le Comte de Nuit – France’s secret spandex service: Le Bureau Discret.  All except the one they need.

Marrow tells Fantomex to make himself useful and translate what they are talking about. Still on the ground, Fantomex retorts how the hell should he know. He doesn’t speak French. When the others look at him shocked, he explains he just likes the accent.

Disgusted, Psylocke offers to translate. She explains that between all the weeping and Gallic melodrama they’ve decided they need to know how she died, so they are calling in the specialist.

Fantomex still lies on the ground drooling.

Fantomex’ mindscape:
EVA announces she’s analyzed his little flaw. He does not have a fl—Logically, she continues he has two options: Number one: he comes to terms with the fact that others are simply better than him… in certain specific ways. That there are some things he cannot do. For instance: reading the brain of dead people.

The expert has arrived, the Necrogateur. He kneels down next to Anais.

Fantomex’ mindscape:
Come to terms with it, he repeats. Oui, oui, oui. Non! Non! Non! he shouts. What’s option two? Easy he’s just got to square the circle. Make the delusion of his own superiority into a fact.

Psylocke warns the creepy guy is onto them. He knows the catlady isn’t dead. Suspended animation bullet, Marrow adds. Doc Nem is gonna be so smug…Cable reminds them of the plan. They hit them all together and do it non-lethally. On his mark—

Nooooo! Fantomex shouts and attacks solo. Je suis le absolute &%$§% best! he shouts, the only man left standing with the exception, of the horrified Necrogateur.

Fantomex informs him he could kill him and all his comrades but on this day he defers to the weakness and mercy of his allies. Temporarily. And by choice. He feels positively wonderful, he finds.

Later at X-Force’s headquarters:
Hearing the teleporter, Doctor Nemesis sighs that his idiot sense is tingling. Moments later, the team arrives with the Necrogateur in tow. Holding a gun to his head, Cable orders him to read the scorched corpse of Antonio Aggasiz.

Fantomex’ mindscape:
Fantomex finds he is still feeling blue. He wonders why. He did as EVA suggested, prove he was the greatest (at disobeying orders and beating up Eurotrash). It felt good.

Yeah, for all of five minutes, EVA smirks. He thinks an occasional re-up of smugness will stave off this grade of crazy? He needs something more permanent. ‘Course, he could try to genuinely become the best at everything but that’s kinda impractical in the long term. So sooner or later he’s gonna realize there’s just one thing he can do: He’s simply going to have to murder everyone who’s better than him. It’s the only sane choice.

The Necrogateur finally gets something: He explains this man has been to other Earths and stole technologies there under the order of a man called Volga. One world in particular. One world changed everything. He calls it Earth 1287. There is une locution… a phrase, yes?  A phrase he heard chanted by brave soldiers: “When it comes your time to die…

Huh, Tecumseh, Cable mutters. Marrow asks what the hell that is. He was a Shawnee war-leader, oh bounteous fount of ignorance, Nemesis replies. He composed a doctrine about the best way to conduct your life. So naturally you gung-ho types ignore all the socially beneficial useful stuff ad focus on the bombastic ending. It goes: “Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.”

While the others look at the corpse, Fantomex slowly reaches for his gun…

Characters Involved: 

Cable, Dr. Nemesis, Fantomex, Marrow, Meme, Psylocke (X-Force)

Anais, Capitaine Fantome, Le Comte de Nuit, Le Coq Bleu, Necrogateur, Prochaine Sortie (Bureau Discrete)

Corpse of Antonio Aggasiz

Story Notes: 

“Run, Forrest” is a quote from the famous movie Forrest Gump.

Fantomex was split into three beings at the end of Uncanny X-Men (1st series).

Le Coq Bleu: The Blue Rooster
Prochaine Sortie: Last Exit
Le Comte de Nuit: Count of the Night

In the Fantomex Max series, Fantomex is fluent in French, though it’s debatable whether that series is in continuity.

Asterix is the eponymous hero of the famous French graphic novel series by Rene Goscinny and Albert Uderzo.

1287 is the number of the world of Strikeforce: Morituri.

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