Since it launched in February, X-Men Red has quickly become the king of X-Men titles. The series has forgone tales of time travel and cosmic crusades to focus on a much more intimate, human problem: bigotry. X-Men Red #7 is the first issue in this series to really focus on action and, unfortunately, it’s not for the better. Inconsistent art and chaotic fight scenes bog down this release to make it the weakest issue of an otherwise outstanding series.
When an issue puts all of its eggs in the action basket, the art is going to be what makes or breaks the issue. In X-Men Red #7’s case, the art breaks the issue. Nearly every scene is either too chaotic, inconsistent, or simply hard to follow to make for compelling fight sequences.
The biggest problem with the fights is just how chaotic they look. The panels don’t really flow together well, making it hard for the reader to follow the pace and movements of the fight at hand. Rather than feeling like a collection of movements building atop one another, each panel presents the fight in a way that will make the reader feel like they’re watching a video stream on a poor, choppy connection. It just ends up feeling messy.
It doesn’t help that the visual progression of two key, dramatic scenes are downright inconsistent. In one moment, a spire is seen crashing into an Atlantean building, sending debris into the ocean. Yet, on the ensuing splash page, Jean Grey has saved the spire from crashing and everything is fine.
In an even more dramatic sequence, Trinary is being shielded by Laura Kinney as bullets rain down on top of them, but then, in the next pane, Trinary is miraculously on the opposite side of the room and bleeding from a gunshot wound. In both these scenes, otherwise dramatic moments are completely squandered by inconsistent artwork. Like the fight scenes, these sequences lack any interconnectivity between panels, leaving each scene to feel fragmented.
The focus on action also robs readers of one of this series’s best qualities: Honey Badger quips. Since issue #1 there has been at least one memorable, laugh-out-loud funny remark from Gabrielle Kinney. #7 is the first issue of X-Men Red that is sorely lacking in the Honey Badger joke department, and surprisingly enough, the omission is quite noticeable.
All this action is for naught, too, with both conflicts being resolved rather anti-climatically. Gambit and crew’s mission to steal the former British ambassador’s cell phone ends in an especially dull fashion, with the new ambassador willingly handing over the phone after the X-Men nearly crashed a sentinel on top of him. This resolution just feels way too convenient and unbelievable (even in a world with mutants).
Despite all its problems, though, X-Men Red #7still boasts a fantastic speech from Jean Grey that proves why Tom Taylor is such a talented X-Men scribe. Jean’s speech feels subtly familiar to real world events, cementing this series’ feeling of importance, while ending with a line that is so perfectly exemplifies the heroism of the X-Men: “I know some of you, faced with this truth, will choose not to believe it. The X-Men will fight for you anyway.” That, right there, is what the X-Men is all about, to me. Fighting for what’s right, no matter what.
X-Men Red #7 is not the type of bad issue that derails an entire series. If anything, it simply shows that the series is at its best when it forgoes action to focus on the human drama and political intrigue of its story. I still think X-Men Red is the best X-Men book on shelves, but #7 shows that even the best series have a few duds from time to time.