The X-Men have a Vulcan problem, but he’s a tool for Abigail Brand. Most don’t know he’s not reformed but a serious threat, and he knows all about his mind being altered. X-Men: Red #9 is out this week, showing us how dangerous he can be, but with Abigail Brand in control of him, maybe he’s an even bigger threat than he ever was. That is, if everything we know is true…
X-Men: Red #9 opens with a critical scene in the past when Vulcan was brought back to life. We’re reminded some subtle augmentation took place to make his mind right, but whether or not it stuck remains to be seen. Smash cut to now, and Vulcan has an evil grin and a desire to cut through anyone in his way. Apparently, it’s a bad idea to bring back genocidal villains!
This opening scene might be the strongest in the issue. It utilizes each of the X-Men well, reminds us of how dangerous Vulcan is, and even gives us some good character wrinkles with all the characters in the room.
Much of this issue focused on Brand watching Vulcan and Vulcan doing his worst to take power. He doesn’t know she’s watching, and she thinks she’s in full control. I won’t spoil a thing, but Al Ewing builds the tension well here, leading to an enjoyable twist. It’s also a bit of a thirst trap, especially with the dialogue choices, leading to a cliffhanger that should mean a major fight for the next issue.
These scenes play out with an edge-of-your-seat feel thanks to the character acting. Stefano Caselli puts you right there with the characters, from Nova’s rage at Vulcan’s behavior to Mentallo’s excellent suave overconfident expression.
The subplot involving Cable and a few other mutants also gets a check-in. This chunk supplies some action and a significant character taking a loss. Expect a game-changing moment for Cable and his crew, although we don’t get much confirmation on what happens exactly.
This subplot makes it more obvious that this issue suffers a bit by being a direct continuation of X-Men: Red #8 since it carries forward plots rather than feeling self-contained. It reads like a smaller chapter lacking big turning points or confrontations. Even the fight with Nova is a bit limp since Vulcan, and the reader knows he’s not to be trifled with. Obviously, this is common in serial storytelling, but even still, it could use a little more plot progression or character development. It largely hinges on the twist, complete with a data page that calls back to the last issue.
X-Men: Red features a twist or two with a promising confrontation set up for the next issue. It suffers a bit since a lot of this issue is table setting while not digging too deeply into Vulcan’s mind. Instead, he’s gone full supervillain and lost the nuance we’ve seen in previous issues.
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