X-Men Red is one of the stronger X-Men series going right now (dare I say it’s the best?) and its fifth issue drops today. In it, Namor makes an appearance (duh, he’s on the cover), Jean continues to be amazing and graceful, and Poland becomes a place where mutants are not welcome. Sounds like my kind of party.
So what’s it about?
Read our preview.
Why does this matter?
The X-Men have always been reflective of racism in the world and its latest narrative makes that doubly so. As we live in a time when openly racist people hold rallies in the street, a series like this feels more needed than ever.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Tom Taylor is very good at pacing his comics. This issue is an example of that, shifting from scene to scene in an almost perfect balance between action, interesting dialogue, and plot development. It moves logically, like any form of content should when being economical is best. Like a good movie, there isn’t a scene or panel that wastes our time and by the end, you’ll appreciate that all the more because these 20 pages will mean something.
This issue balances the racial elements the mutants are fighting against in Poland with grace largely thanks to Jean. Taylor uses the story here to make a statement about people being good at heart, but they are pushed to do bad things with a mix of anxiety and confusion thrown into the mix. A line resonated with me in this issue where Jean says, “We’re going to crush the lies. We’re going to weaponize the truth.” Hot damn, can we get a whole lot of that in our politics today? While there are strong political aspirations like this one there is also entertaining action and well-developed character moments.
Mahmud A. Asrar did a fantastic job on Totally Awesome Hulk and continues to do so here. He has a command of characters’ emotions that connect the reader to them and increases the tension, or lack thereof, well. Jean is particularly moving in her heroic leadership role and you get the sense she’s like a savior here. Sentinel-X gets to shine more than once in this issue — once as a sort of joke, and later as a formidable wall to protect those who need protecting.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The book opens with the main villain enacting plans, but she doesn’t show up again and that limits the power of her presence and purpose in the story. Speaking of, I’m not exactly sure the X-Men solved the problem by the end of the issue but rather avoided a major conflict. The last panel certainly gives me hope the X-Men are going to cut off the head of the foul beast that’s pushing the racism in Poland, but we’re not given enough to know how or where we go from here.
My only other gripe is a double page splash with some panels layered over it. It’s a key moment in the comic and I’m not exactly sure I knew what was going on. I needed explanation later in the issue to figure it out. It also wasn’t the most detailed, with a hazy sky and not a lot to it beyond a well rendered Jean. A different angle to these two pages could have made this moment be more impactful.
Is it good?
I liked this issue and I love the approach Marvel is taking as it tackles racism, ignorance, and truth. This is a comic that is perfect for the current political climate of today.
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