Former super-soldier and master thief, Fantomex, stumbles upon one of his clones, Cluster, breaking into museums to steal priceless artifacts. Outwitted and intrigued, Fantomex decides to beat Cluster at whatever game she’s playing. But something is different about these artifacts: they’ve all been infused with nanotechnology, very similar to the kind that originally created Fantomex. And they aren’t the only ones looking for them… Their other clone, Weapon XIII, is on the hunt too. The cat-and-mouse heists test their burglary skills and push the boundaries of how much they can trust one another. When it turns out that they’re the pawns in an even deadlier game, all hell breaks loose – and these clones always play to win.
I have read two of the Marvel novels previously, one of which was a hit (Elsa Bloodstone), and one was a miss (Target: Kree). They keep pumping these books out though, and Netgalley keeps treating me (I have another 4 of the Marvel books I still need to get to). And so far they have all been really quick and easy reads.
Fantomex is a Marvel character I was before this familiar with only by name… which wasn’t a problem for this book at all. Because of events previous to this book (which are explained very well), the character needs to rediscover himself throughout the story… and we are going along for the ride. He has to relearn his powers and see how his personality has been affected by events. So with a basic idea of the X-men, you get a long way (there are some jokes regarding Logan, references to Psylocke, Kitty Pryde and Xavier, and the school they are at now is run by Scott Summers, Emma Frost and Magneto).
What the blurb doesn’t tell you about is the second main character and her story line: Avery Torres. She has newly arrived at the school, and just wants to learn how to handle her powers and go back to her normal life. She struggles with the secrecy and the consequences this has on her and her girlfriend’s relationship (the way inclusion of diversity was handled so naturaly and not show-offy was really refreshing).
What makes this book work so well for me is that it is as much about the plot as it is about character development. Both Avery and Fantomex grow a lot throughout this story, and have to learn that it is okay to trust/depend on other people… even though you have been hurt and disappointed in the past. You don’t have to be alone and push people away… which is definitely something that hit close to home.
There is also a great love and appreciation for art and food in this book, cutting nicely through the well constructed action scenes. It must be difficult to write your own story within an already well established universe, but Johnson did it, and very well at that. My only criticism is that some of the plot points were a bit too convenient, or didn’t make quite sense but only served to get to another point. Apart from that, this book just works and was an absolute joy to read.