Fantômas, also known as The Lord of Terror, is the villainous French star of a long-running series of novels written by authors Marcell Allain and Pierre Souvestre. This criminal has gone on to appear in various novels, comics, films, and television since his creation back in 1911.
Who is Fantômas?
Fantômas is often cited as a mark, the transition from Gothic Villains of the 19th Century to the more modern day 'Serial Killer' type of villain. Unlike men in the mould of Professor Moriarty, the goals of the Lord of Terror seem to have less to do with the attainment of wealth than they do with spreading chaos. Violence for its own sake. Any spoils he gains from a crime are just an added bonus, less important to him than the carnage he creates.
And he's quite good at spreading terror. Releasing plague-infested rats on an ocean liner, putting acid in a popular brand of cosmetics, crashing trains, and so on and so forth. And despite the determination of men like intrepid Inspector Juve, the fiend manages to escape capture for many years.
Fantômas VS Sherlock Holmes
Unfortunately, there are very few crossovers between the Master Detective and the Lord of Terror. Their contact is mainly limited to two stories that were originally stage plays.
- Sherlock Holmes vs Fantômas: (originally was pitted against the lawyer-friendly Herlock Sholmes) a stage play written in 1914 by Pierre de Wattyne & Yorril Walter. Taking place in 1907, a series of heinous crimes is being perpetrated throughout London by the fiendish Fantômas. But only Sherlock Holmes seems to believe in his existence (the authorities believe that this Fantômas is nothing more than the creation of French newspapers). But as he works to stop the madman's schemes, the Master Detective is seemingly murdered by the Fiend. Is the legendary Sherlock Holmes dead? Nothing is as it seems.
- The Grand Horizontals: another stage play that has Holmes drawn into the affairs of the Duke of the fictional country of Graustark and two courtesans (the real-life courtesans Caroline Otero and Liane de Pougy) that takes place in Paris. Unfortunately someone else has their eye on this series of events... Fantômas.
- Fantômas' appearance differs from artist to artist, movie to movie. Sometimes he's a man in a simple tuxedo with top hat and domino mask, other times he's wearing some sort of full-facial mask (or cover, such as the hood shown above). When they made his films in the 60's, the now-characteristic latex grey facial mask was given to him.
- In Mexico, a series of comics were made in the 1960s. At first pretty straightforward adaptations of the original stories, they eventually began to develop into something much more different than the original source material. Fantômas morphed from violent sociopathic mastermind to an almost heroic character (along the lines of Robin Hood and Arsène Lupin) who fought corruption in his own way.