X-Men: Red #1
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Mahmud Asrar
Colors: Ive Svorcina
Letters: Cory Petit
Cover artists: Travis Charest (regular)/Dan Mora and Charest (variants)
Editor: Mark Paniccia
Publisher: Marvel Entertainment
Price: $3.99 US
It’s been three years since I read an X-Men comic, and Marvel’s line of mutant Comics hasn’t interested me as of late. I know it basically relaunched that line with a number of new titles, none of which really grabbed me. However, I try not to review only the comics I think I’ll like. If I did that, I wouldn’t really be reviewing comics, but rather serving is a cheerleader for select corner of the industry. So I decided to take a look this week at one of these new X-Men titles. With X-Men: Red #2, I was surprised and impressed with what I found. Writer Tom Taylor has crafted a story here that gets back to the roots of the property as an allegory for social change and justice. While those concepts are handled intelligently though, what really grabbed me were the powerful personalities of the characters and the delightful sense of humor that Taylor has instilled in the script.
Jean Grey and her team of X-Men have taken refuge in Wakanda after she was framed for the public murder of the British ambassador to the United Nations. The anti-mutant fallout worldwide was swift and pronounced, and the mutant heroes wrestle with what to do next. However, an automated message from a new mutant — a technopath in India — offers a solution, but first, Jean and her allies must leave their sanctuary to rescue the young woman from captivity.
I’ve been a fan of Mahmud Asrar’s work since I first saw it on Dynamo 5, an Image Comics title written by Jay Faerber about a decade ago. He was clearly a talented artist back then, and his craft has only improved over the years. He boasts a simpler approach now, with thicker linework. It reminds me of the style of Stuart Immonen. The pared-down approach makes for more dynamic and more emotive characters. Ive Svorcina’s colors really pop, reinforcing the traditional super-hero genre tone of the story. However, the skin tone used for Trinary and her captor in the opening pages seems a little off. At first, I thought she had some sort of golden skin, an exterior manifestation of her mutant nature, but I later realized it’s just mean to convey her Indian ethnicity.
OK, I know nothing about the new character of Honey Badger, save for the fact that she appears to be some sort of Wolverine-like character. And I love her. She behaves like a kid; she’s carefree and fun and light. While Taylor doesn’t spell out her backstory much, we have enough here to enjoy the plot, given that this is a team title and not a story focusing solely on Honey Badger. Taylor’s script is surprisingly accessible. This second issue flows directly from the tumultuous events of the first, but he recaps everything succinctly in the dialogue so as to allow a reader such as myself, who didn’t read that first issue, to follow along with ease.
This issue features a one-page “Where’s Wolverine?” backup (with lineart by Ryan Stegman) that injects Logan into the background of events of this story. It contributes nothing to the story. The only apparent purpose is collectibility and marketing, and I find that irksome (as I have with other such “post-credits scenes” promoting Wolverine’s return).
I haven’t read much of Tom Taylor’s comics work before now, but I have heard a lot of people raving about his writing. Now I see why. He handles the sociopolitical aspects of the plot incredibly well; he doesn’t dumb things down, but neither does he make things too convoluted. I’m particularly appreciated Trinary’s reference to pay equity and her efforts to deal with it. But what really stands out here is the dialogue and interaction among the characters. There’s a delightfully playful tone to the script that made this comic book so much fun to read. I’m definitely going to seek out the first issue, and plan to follow along with the series with interest and anticipation. My only concern is the inevitable crossover(s) with the other X-Men titles, which would no doubt derail what Taylor is crafting here. 8/10