The new Destiny of X era began last week with Immortal X-Men, but for many, X-Men Red is the most anticipated new series out of all of them. That’s because creators Al Ewing and Stefano Caselli are two of the best to do it, but you’d be kidding yourself if a focus on the Arakko mutants wasn’t a huge draw too. In a series featuring Magneto and Storm as main players, can this series distinguish itself from the pack?
As the preview shows, Storm has a lot on her mind at the start of the issue. This issue jumps around a bit and revolves around Arakko’s development from an island nation to a nation in complete control of Mars. Storm sits on the council known as The Great Ring of Arakko which is a kind of government similar to the Quiet Council of Krakoa. From this detail to a major reveal in the first issue’s cliffhanger, it’s clear Ewing is playing around with mirroring Krakoa and revealing Arakko through the differences between the nations.
By playing with expectations, Ewing and Caselli do well to capture how Arakko is different while also showing how it molds and changes its familiar characters. Storm and Magneto are two key players, but Sunspot is also a major player in this first issue. All told, Magneto and Storm divide up the most time in the issue. Arakko changes people–the Arakko mutants are far more dangerous and violent than Earth’s mutants–and it’s interesting to see the distinctions show themselves here.
Something Ewing has always been good at whether he’s writing the Avengers or the X-Men, is his understanding of each character’s history. You saw it with Swordsman in Empyre, and Magneto and Storm are written to perfection here. That isn’t to say they aren’t changing, but one can see Ewing is developing their characters in a believable and natural way. These characters end up being the backbone that readers can rely on and build off of as changes and developments take place.
The big takeaway from this issue, and its opening point of view on why it needs to exist, is without a doubt captivating. No spoilers here, but it builds off a concept we know by taking it to a planetary place. How the developments of this issue affect other titles and concepts of the X-Men is exciting stuff.
Caselli draws a great issue with colors by Federico Blee. This book is mostly talking and character work and yet Caselli never bores with static shots or poor framing. There are fights in this issue, but most are short or serve to show how tempers are flaring up. As a dialogue-heavy drama, Caselli draws you in with good emotional acting and great costuming. Blee does well with shadows in particular, generally giving the first issue a darker vibe.
Ariana Maher letters the issue quite well, playing with text size to great effect. Sound effects are quite limited here since there’s little action, but when they do show up they add good emphasis.
X-Men Red #1 is going to be a huge hit for longtime X-Men fans. Magneto and Storm are written pitch-perfectly while the larger story plays with what we know about the X-Men and builds on it. X-Men Red is all about character and X-Men legacy.
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