X-Men: Red is really heating up as conflict continues to rise on Arakko. That’s Mars for you Earthers. Storm and Magneto now live on Arakko, but when faced with a government-operated X-Men controlled and formed by Brand a conflict arises. In today’s issue, Tarn the Uncaring desires a challenger, and whoever wins gains the favor of the Arraki people. No pressure.
X-Men: Red #3 opens with Xavier convening with Cable after resurrecting him. There’s some interesting character work in this scene playing into Cable’s distrust of Xavier, but also his beef with Thunderbird. Writer Al Ewing also gets Hope into the scene which adds another layer to Cable’s presence. The previous two issues have set up rising conflict and it appears Ewing has plans for Cable to possibly form the third side. That, or there’s a potential for these characters to join a non-X-Men team already established.
Speaking of a Brotherhood of Mutants, a lot of time is spent with Storm in this issue. Not only does she get to spar a bit with Brand, but the growing Tarn threat is discussed. It’s cool to see these mutants converse as it’s not all fighting and punching. Sunspot gets some key moments in this scene, but the scene-stealer of the book is definitely Magneto.
A lot has developed with Magneto in this series, which culminates in the cliffhanger of this issue. Not only does he have a new non-mutant friend, but he goes through a rollercoaster of emotions in this issue. Stefano Caselli is positively perfect in each of the panels to show Magneto truly reeling from the choices he must make. He’s been through a lot, once believing in Xavier’s dream, but now he wants to be left alone. As an omega-level mutant though, can he simply live or must he act and help others? You’ll find out in the excellent final scene.
And then there’s Vulcan, another key character in this first story arc. He’s reduced to one fight scene and one key data page, but boy is it a great data page. In an email to Brand, the data page delves into Vulcan’s mind. It also has a sweet Looney Tunes reference worth checking out.
Federico Blee and Protobunker’s Fernando Sifuentes color the issue to perfection. Just look at the floor as Storm talks down to Brand and you’ll see complex reflections that add depth. Lighting on Storm’s leather clothes is also exceptional. The book gets rather violent and the color adds to it with bits of blood flying off fists.
Ariana Maher letters the issue well, drawing the eye across connected word balloons. In the Brand and Storm scene, the word balloons actually overlap, helping to convey the tension between the characters. It’s as if they’re talking over each other.
X-Men: Red #3 continues to trend as the best X-Men book coming out each week. It progresses the plot with efficient use of multiple characters in every scene. Paced well, the series balances character beats with impactful action and emotion. X-Men: Red fundamentally understands the X-Men and builds on it.
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