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Fantomex (X-Men character) (Marvel Comics)

Fantomex

(Grant Morrison version)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

“I am a living hall of mirrors. I am a stealth fighter. I am super-soldier generation thirteen.”


Context

Fantomex is a Marvel Comics character who appeared in 2002, and chiefly associates with the X-Men and Wolverine. He’s a mysterious and occasionally surreal super-agent, who seems to specialize in misdirection, manipulation and intelligence.

This profile covers New X-Men #128-146. These constitute the Fantomex appearances written by Grant Morrison, his creator. Subsequent appearances from other written seemed to be a subtly different take on the character.


Background

  • Real Name: Charlie-Cluster 7 (“Cluster 7” being some sort of batch designation – apparently all subjects turned into Weapon Plus assets have a cluster number).
  • Other Aliases: Weapon XIII, Jean-Philippe. One imagines that his name is spelled Fantômex in French.
  • Marital Status: Unrevealed.
  • Known Relatives: Unidentified mother (presumably deceased).
  • Group Affiliation: Former subject of the Weapon Plus program, formerly a soon-to-be member of the Super-Sentinels.
  • Base Of Operations: Mobile.
  • Height: 5’9” Weight: 174 lbs.
  • Eyes: Grey-blue Hair: Unrevealed (dark eyebrows)


Powers & Abilities

Fantomex is an artificially-evolved human with multiple brains for independent parallel processing, nano-active blood (which allows him to recover from seemingly fatal wounds), and two nervous systems. His main nervous system exists as a separate entity called E.V.A., and he has a backup nervous system inside his own body (though it is markedly slower and only allows for B&W vision).

“Jean-Philippe” had extraordinary reflexes, coordination and accuracy. This is visible in his practically superhuman acumen as a gunfighter and as a stealth expert.

His strength, endurance and pain tolerance are as good as it gets for a man of his weight – and he is able to switch off pain by manipulating his nervous system. This ability to shut off pain makes him superhumanly resilient to burns and electrocution.

Fantomex is extraordinarily intelligent — possibly superhumanly so — and impossibly competent. His main specialities are combat, espionage and misdirection. He is always in control of the situation, always thinking 6 steps ahead, and has an endless array of tricks up his sleeves – some of which seem inexplicable.

With Fantomex, nothing is at it seems, everything is a deception and truth is a non-Euclidian maze.

Fantomex on white background

“Jean-Philippe” has clearly patterned himself after a number of figures in European popular literature – chiefly Fantômas  but also Diabolik , Arsène Lupin  and James Bond. The hallmark of most of these characters is to be super-men of impossible talent and intelligence, who overcome through a planning ability of infernal precision and access to vast amount of information. Mere mortals cannot hope to prevail against such audacity, intelligence, assurance – and understanding of the world and human mind.

Among Fantomex’s numerous talents is an impossible acumen in reading body language, and a mastery of numerous medical talents (including medical hypnosis and self-hypnosis). For instance he can quickly and reliably perform surgery on himself when wounded. He seems to have memorised the immense intelligence databases of the Weapon Plus project.

Gear

He usually fights with paired Five-seveN next generation pistols, and has access to specialised ammunition in the rare cases where it is necessary – such as ceramic bullets to shoot Magneto with. He also occasionally uses smoke pellets as a diversion and/or to disappear ninja-style, while tricking his opponents into believing that he has mutant teleportation powers.

An important part of his equipment is his mask, which includes telepathy-proofed ceramic shields and which he never, ever takes off. The telepathic shielding, which might be the same stuff as used in the Juggernaut’s helmet or a further evolution of it, is so strong that even Professor X or Jean Grey-Summers cannot defeat it.

Of all the nerve !

The creature called E.V.A. is Fantomex’s mutated main nervous system. According to him, she emerged from his mouth when he went through puberty, the size of a big pearl. He then kept her in a bird cage and fed her Swiss chocolate as she grew and learned to talk to him. This story is almost certainly a complete fabrication, with the truth being much less pleasant.

According to Xavier and Grey, E.V.A. has “pure machine consciousness” but has a friendly mindset. She sees herself as female, and enjoys making flirtatious remarks to Fantomex.

Fantomex's EVA flying saucer

E.V.A. looks like a techno-organic flying saucer. She is capable of orbital flight, resents being called an UFO, and seems to be bigger on the inside than on the outside.

Though she’s chiefly Fantomex’s trademark vehicle, she has a knack for rescuing him when necessary – she can shoot bio-electric blasts, extrude HR Giger-esque  arms and legs from her body, is equipped with precise sensors (including lifeform detectors and thermal imaging), etc. and can communicate telepathically with her “partner”.

Fantomex is both telepathically and symbiotically linked to E.V.A., and they can both perceive what the other is perceiving. As a result, whenever E.V.A. is traumatized or injured, Fantomex experiences the same pain. If E.V.A. is too badly damaged, Fantomex will have to switch to his backup nervous system.

Through an effort of will and full concentration, Fantomex can take control of E.V.A., for instance if she is incapacitated. Since E.V.A. and Fantomex share the same nervous system they cannot both take precise actions at the same time, but they are highly coordinated and this seldom poses an actual issue.

E.V.A. seems conversant with the hard sciences and computer science.


History

The product of a mating between his mother and a machine, Charlie-Cluster 7 was born in the World. This is a secret domed square mile of experimental micro-reality built by the military industrial complex in England.

In the World, the Weapon Plus program bred and trained artificially evolved super-soldiers destined to serve humanity during the inevitable war against mutantkind. The World’s scientists heated up time within the dome until it flowed in all directions at once.

Within this pliant, fast-moving substance they introduced human test groups, whose genetic material was crudely spliced with adaptive Nano-Sentinel technology.

They ran these through half a million years of cyborg mutation compressed within 18 months, with occasional gamma bombardment to induce further mutations and cull the weak.

Gentleman cambrioleur

The Weapon Plus program has been running since at last the 1930s. The goal of this gigantic machination is to develop super-soldiers, and their main success are immatriculated with a Roman numeral.

Captain America (Steve Rogers) was Weapon I, and Wolverine (James Howlett) was Weapon X. The World experiment produced at least 3 new weapons, with Charlie-Cluster 7 being Weapon XIII.

The super-soldiers bred in the World — Weapon XIII as Fantomex, Weapon XII as Huntsman, Weapon XV as Ultimaton, and others — were to form a super-team as the Super-Sentinels. The Super-Sentinels were engineered using cutting edge marketing research to ensure that they would be hugely popular.

Their war of extermination against mutants would be seen by the general population as an exciting, video game-like adventure. Fantomex was apparently to be the lovable rogue and star of this show.

Charlie-Cluster 7, however, had other plans. When Weapon Plus arranged for a train crash in the Chunnel to test Huntsman and Fantomex against a group of trained mutants, he escaped.

Fantômex contre Herlock Sholmès

Chased by the authorities and seriously wounded, Fantomex fled to the Paris branch of the X-Corporation, the global mutant search and rescue organization. There he met its founder, Professor Charles Xavier, and the acting headmistress of the Xavier Institute, Jean Grey-Summers.

He tricked them into thinking that he was a Frenchman and Europe’s most notorious mutant criminal, making a whole identity up.

Fantomex tells Wolverine and Cyclops about the World

When told that an X-Corporation team had been sent to the Chunnel to investigate the train crash, he told them that they were probably dead by now. Concerned about their squad, Xavier and Grey-Summers agreed to ally with Fantomex and boarded E.V.A. to get to the Chunnel. They made a detour to Fantomex’s base so he could operate on himself and remove the bullets.

As he prepared for this surgery, Fantomex revealed the existence of Weapon Plus and offered to sell Xavier more information, but only if he agreed to help kill Huntsman (Weapon XII).

Several notes about these events

Fantomex’s base was an immense glass structure crammed with exotic curios and encompassing a small house where lived an aged blind woman – supposedly his mother. This was all misdirection. The likeliest hypothesis is that the structure and the old woman were actually the house and mother of an extremely wealthy Frenchman.

Fantomex presumably mimicked this man’s voice to trick the old blind woman into thinking that he was her son. Since Charlie-Cluster 7 knew various details about the layout of the place, there was presumably extensive intelligence on the owner of the house in the Weapon Plus databases.

The first name “Jean-Philippe” that Fantomex often uses appeared at this point, since it was the name of the old woman’s son. Whether he further impersonated this Jean-Philippe man is unknown.

For what it’s worth, Fantomex probably let himself be shot deliberately before he reached Xavier and Grey-Summers. He doesn’t feel the pain, knew that he could get the bullets out, and it was a very efficient way to push the mutants’ buttons.

L’aiguille creuse

In the Chunnel Fantomex, Grey-Summers and Xavier came to reinforce the remnants of their team. Weapon XII’s viral minds had possessed hundreds – now irretrievably lost and a vehicle for Weapon XII. Fantomex unhesitatingly shot these unfortunate dead, including X-Corporation member Darkstar (Laynia Petrovna).

Upon reaching the train, he located the pod which had housed Huntsman and activated a remote detonator, instantly killing the viral weapon. Discovering a second pod, Jean realized that Fantomex was actually Weapon XIII, but let him escape.

Fantomex flying EVA, with Jean Grey and Professor X

E.V.A. (inside view).

Fantomex later encountered Wolverine in a mutant slave trader camp in Afghanistan. The pseudo-Frenchman was there to steal a list of the richest people in the world who were engaged in the trade, intending to use it for blackmail.

He also found the young Afghani mutant Dust (Sooraya Qadir) lying unconscious after she had unwittingly slaughtered her captors. Turning her over to Wolverine, Fantomex left him to deal with the encroaching mercenaries.

Back into the World

A short time later, Fantomex contacted Wolverine and offered him information about his past in return for aid in stopping Ultimaton (Weapon XV). Joined by Cyclops (Scott Summers), they infiltrated the World but found the time there frozen and the facility decimated following an attack by the terrorist group A.I.M.

After time resumed moving, the heroes fought through the World’s defenses and confronted Ultimaton. They failed to defeat him and he broke out of the World, escaping to Weapon Plus’ orbital station.

Following in E.V.A., Fantomex intended to destroy the station. Before doing so he kept his promise to Wolverine by opening the complete Weapon Plus database, giving the Canadian access to the secrets of his past that had been long withheld from him by Weapon X. Sickened by what he learned, Wolverine triggered the detonation sequence and blew up the station.

Fantomex and Cyclops barely managed to escape in a shuttle, and after killing Ultimaton, Wolverine was rescued by Jean Grey-Summers.


Description

Fantomex always, always wear his mask — even when he’s gambling and wearing a white tux. He has a noticeable French accent and uses a few words of French even when speaking English.

Fantomex has the strange habit of pouring his drinks on the top of his head, which apparently absorbs it all. It is possible that this is part of his superhuman enhancements and/or tied to the reason why he never removes his mask. But then it may just be misdirection – or doing something weird for the pleasure of doing something weird.


Personality

Fantomex is a living power fantasy, an extraordinary badass and mastermind, a super-man, too smart and cool for you to pin down – a true superhuman. He’s at once about action, hedonism, controlling intelligence, virility, subterfuge and misdirection.

He does whatever he wants, in style and with panache – and if he needs more firepower he can always bamboozle some super-heroes to help. Fantomex projects a constant vibe of amused superiority, and thinks and acts at a high speed without waiting much for ordinary people to catch up.

Fantomex bursts through a window, shooting his pistols

Much like Fantômas was a surrealist icon, Fantomex enjoys the weird and eccentric. He thrives among Grant Morrisonian themes such as hyper-dimensions, post-humanity, the extraordinary, and melding fiction and reality.

He grew up in an extraordinary non-place of plastic time and chaos-engineered reality, has a distinct taste for flamboyance, and knows that destabilising people make them more susceptible to manipulation.

More generally he’s constantly testing people and pushing their buttons in all sorts of subtle ways, to map out when he can afford to do with them.

The imagined man

His lifestyle is Jamesbondian. Despite his smooth intellect and manly assurance, one gets the impression that he has a sort of boyish love for this sort of power fantasy movie and is trying to act them out in real life with his customary flair.

His James Bond act has a certain formulaic patina to it, as if he were aping what super-cool dudes are supposed to do but not having enough applicable life experience to really be this sort of person. Of course, as a he-man supercool action hero, he’s also a ruthless habitual killer and a highly confident ladies’ man.

Though his identity as a French master criminal and hunted man seemed like something he would discard after tricking the X-Men, he actually seems attached to it. He kept his French accent, speaks fluent French, occasionally refers to himself as “Jean-Philippe” (more or less pronounced “Jaw Feel Hip”) and has various French mannerisms.

Apparently he just thinks that it’s cool, though he may also appreciate compensating for his lack of personal roots by adopting the trappings of a famous national culture. Likewise, though being the best thief in Europe was just a story he made up, he decided that it was cool and that he would be this fictional person – a new Arsène Lupin mixed a finger of Fantômas.

Being this person gives him dignity – as Fantômex he’s his own man rather than an escaped weapon built for horrible future wars in a time-warped torture chamber.

Though he efficiently manipulated the X-Men to have two of the most powerful telepaths around as his backup singers, he seems actually attached to them and to consider them friends of sorts.

An important reason for this might be Jean Grey-Summers, who beyond her own numerous talents seems irresistible to the class of men Fantomex belongs to. During their encounters, he was definitely delivering the roguish bad boy routine to her.


Quotes

“I can read your body language, so I know that you’re wondering how I got in and why you only see white roses when you try to look into my mind. Thought-proofed ceramic panels. I heard your speech on TV and decided to put you in a morally compromising position. Fantomex — pleased to make your acquaintance. Professor, miss Grey. I want what it says on the tin. I’m a mutant. I demand sanctuary.”

“Nice trick. What do you think of mine ? Meet E.V.A. — my partner. A flying saucer. Pretty good, huh ?”

“Nobody does it like me.”

Professor X: “I’ll try to ignore the deliberate strangeness of all this.”
Fantomex: “Why ignore it ? Embrace it ! I do !”

(Holding a DVD that actually has nothing on it) “I’m a mutant with no scruples, Professor. Your personal fortune was valued at three point five billion dollars. Your teaching staff includes at least three millionaires. I’d prefer to sell. These are the details to the entire Weapon Plus program, dating back to World War Two. All the failed experiments and the successes — the results of a thousand illegal tests on human, animal and finally human subjects… like your mister Logan. All yours for… one billion. I’d be interested to see how much you’re willing to sacrifice for ideals.”

“I’d like to answer all of your questions, Professor, but I have to remove several bullets from my body. I prefer to self-operate, so I’m putting myself into a state of light auto-hypnosis while my body works on itself. There’s wine and a selection of fine French cheeses in the fridge… make yourself at home. This won’t take long.”

Fantomex vs. soldiers

“Illusion, Jean. Misdirection. I’m a new form of life – and this place is so much bigger and more fun than the World in the Weapon Plus program.”

“Jean… England is that way down the track. The tilt in your pelvis tells me you find me too attractive to permit them to capture me again.”

“As Weapon X, you spent the best years of your life being tortured in the project’s laboratories, did you not, monsieur ? James.”

“…A square mile of experimental micro-reality with its own culture, its own religion, its own history… a giant Petri dish where the lives of unsuspecting human beings are used up in days, even moments. A torture chamber. They call it the World. Here, my mother was mated with machines and I was bred, gentlemen.”

“I come in peace.” (BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM). ”I did say ‘peace’, didn’t I ? I may have used the wrong word.”

“We’re doomed. He has no sense of humour.”

“I am a living hall of mirrors. I am a stealth fighter. I am super-soldier generation thirteen. They say mutant monsters will come to steal the World and kill all my friends. But they shouldn’t have made me so smart, or I might have believed them.”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Fantomex

Dex: 08 Str: 04 Bod: 06 Motivation: Mercenary
Int: 11 Wil: 12 Min: 09 Occupation: Adventurer; thief
Inf: 08 Aur: 07 Spi: 08 Resources {or Wealth}: 012
Init: 031 HP: 090

Powers:
Empathy: 06, Eye of the cat: 12, Flame immunity: 01, Invulnerability: 10, Lightning immunity: 03, Pain immunity: 06, Regeneration: 03, Superspeed: 02, Truesight: 15

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Empathy is a Skilled Power, and the target must have a human body language Fantomex can observe (-2).
  • Eye of the cat only works with E.V.A. (-2).
  • Flame and Lightning Immunity are Contingent Upon Pain Immunity.
  • Invulnerability takes an hour to work.
  • Pain Immunity is Form Function (and it just adds to his RV against pain-based attacks – GM’s call as to what qualifies).
  • Superspeed only to accelerate mental tasks (-4).
  • Truesight can only be used to identify persons he’s familiar with, through their body language.

Skills:
Acrobatics*: 08, Martial artist*: 08, Medicine (Hypnosis, first aid, surgery): 07, Military science: 08, Thief: 11, Weaponry (Firearms): 10

Advantages
Connoisseur, Language (French), Lightning Reflexes, Iron Nerves, Luck, Schticks (Paired firearms, speed-shooting, contingency plans), Scholar (The intelligence databases at Weapon Plus), Sidekick (E.V.A.).

Connections:
X-Men (Low).

Drawbacks:
MPR (will feel the pain inflicted on E.V.A. (Pain Immunity does *not* apply), unless he takes a Phase to switch to his backup nervous system. With the back up, his vision is in black and white and all actions have +2CS to their OV. If E.V.A. is grievously wounded, even the backup system will be overloaded.).

Equipment:

  • FN 5.7mm Five-SeveN pistols (x2) [BODY 05, Projectile weapon: 04, Sharpness (Projectile weapon): 01, Ammo: 20, R#02] with six extra clips.
  • Ceramic bullets magazines (x2) [BODY 03, Projectile weapon: 04, Sharpness (Projectile weapon): 01, Ammo: 20. Those 5.7x28mm bullets are made of ceramics, and thus cannot be affected by magnetic powers and the like].
  • SPECIAL MASK [BODY 06, Mind blank: 10, Mind field (Self only): 04.].
  • Fog pellets (x5) [BODY 01, Fog: 05, Grenade Drawback.].

EVA

Dex: 04 Str: 08 Bod: 10 Motivation: Mercenary
Int: 04 Wil: 03 Min: 04 Occupation: Adventurer
Inf: 02 Aur: 02 Spi: 03 Resources {or Wealth}: N.A.
Init: 010 HP: 010

Powers:
Energy blast: 10, Extra limbs (x4): 05, Flame immunity: 04, Flash: 03, Flight: 13, Invulnerability: 10, Life sense (Discerning): 10, Radio communications: 18, Regeneration: 04, Sealed systems: 18, Thermal vision (Discerning): 10

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Flash only for Steady Illumination (centered on herself).
  • Invulnerability takes an hour to work.
  • Life Sense is Discerning enough to determine if people are armed (from posture), track specific people, notice DNA fragments smeared around, etc..
  • Thermal vision can likewise identify traces of razed building (as per standard aerial archaeology techniques) and analyze fluctuations of heat.

Skills:
Scientist (incl. Computers): 06

Drawbacks:
MPR (Fantomex and E.V.A. cannot both conduct a Dice Action during the same Phase).

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: New X-Men #128-146.

Helper(s): Kal El el Vigilante, Frank Murdock, Gareth Lewis.

Writeup remastered on the 11th of October, 2013.

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