Marvel’s SWORD ended with the promise of more the new mutant homeworld of the Sol system. X-Men Red delivers on that promise, alongside some of the best moments that certain characters have gotten in years.
Al Ewing, Stefano Caselli, Federico Blee, and Ariana Maher launch the third of the X-Men line’s trio of flagship books, and it’s a hell of a launch.
Storm’s time as Regent of Sol and Arakko has been anything but smooth. Now her new home and new role is being rocked and challenged from every angle. And she’s not the only one, as Cable, Magneto, Sunspot and Thunderbird all struggle to find a place in this new world. Ororo soon realizes that it isn’t because Arakko needs X-Men… the planet needs something more… revolutionary.
Ewing returns to the X-line with a rebranded series, but a lot of elements carry over from SWORD, no doubt. This is an X-Men book to watch. He weaves world building, character progression, conflict, fights and betrayals all together to make this extra sized debut feel special. This has the sort of drive and purpose a lot of the X-Men line was lacking before Inferno.
One of the best parts of the issue, without a doubt, is the depiction of Storm. This isn’t just from Ewing either. Ewing gets the character though, writing a Storm that feels regal, yet relatable. She is able to give voice to some of the concerns of Arakko as a concept, and give the line a shot in the arm. Caselli and Blee’s depiction of her is fantastic. She looks like a woman who could walk into a room and silence everyone inside with a look. She’s a magnetic presence, which is saying something when the Master of Magnetism is one of her co-stars. And as a side note, it’s great to see Blee get her skin tone right here.
Caselli’s work in the rest of the issue is fantastic. He’s able to pace the action so it’s always engaging, no matter what’s happening. The gladiatorial combat is just as exciting as the council debate as is the bar fight. All the space on the page is dedicated to driving the story forward, and the characters within the panels are all actively involved. He’s able to make Cable intimidating and Thunderbird imposing (which you’ll understand the difference when you see them on page). Sunspot’s demeanor oozes confidence, and it all looks great. Blee’s colors make it all look alien, without making it look unrelatable.
Maher’s always reliable lettering is a step above with this issue. Whether it’s the broken language of the Nameless in the opening pages, or the rapid patter of Cable and Abigail Brand, she gives it all a rhythm that echoes spoken language. And the font and balloon choice for the Nameless is just stunning, making the Arakkii shapeshifter an eerie and disconcerting presence throughout the issue entirely through just the lettering.
I was excited to see what this book could be, and I’m so glad it delivered. I can’t wait to see what’s next.
X-Men Red #1 is available now from Marvel Comics.
X-Men Red kicks off with a debut that shows why this era works. The writing is sharp, and gives Storm a strong spotlight that she hasn’t gotten in years. The art is overall fantastic, giving readers a glimpse into an alien world not that far from our own. And the letter work is some of the best I’ve seen in a very long time. This is a must read for any superhero fan.