So, after all the shenanigans are over in Phoenix Resurrection, we are left with……..da da daaaaaaaaa
JEAN GREY IS ALIVE!
Now this may not come as any surprise to long-term X-Fans or even readers new to the genre; thanks to a frenzied approach to marketing, and of course the Previews Catalogue, we have known about her comeback into the land of the living. The girl has made more successful comebacks than Joe Montana, Dan Marino and the recent game notwithstanding, Tom Brady all put together. Still, the X-Universe with Jean is like The E Street Band without Springsteen, like peaches without cream or like a DC event series where the books don’t ship late: it just doesn’t quite work. But does that mean this latest comeback is a success or does the ball fall incomplete on the last play of the game?
Despite the years and changes that have passed since her last demise, one thing remains the same; humans hate muties! In this case, it’s a girl rousted from her sleep by a midnight urging to run. No, the ghost of Ben Kenobi has not got waylaid, instead it is the voice of someone who cares and as the girl stares death in the face, death dealt to her by her own mother, the source of the mind-night call is revealed. Jean, and her new gang are there to save the day. From there its “previously on…..” as we get to see events leading to that point.
Tom Taylor is no stranger to the mutants, having worked on a number of books featuring the All-New Wolverine. In addition, he also has a lot experience world-changing from his time on both Earth 2 and various Injustice books, even if the former more than resembled the latter after some time. From page one, Taylor seems to have taken a leaf from the old X-Factor book where the original team were “government” mutant hunters who used their access to run a sort of mutant railroad. He also gives Jean something that we haven’t seen from her in the past; a strength of character and purpose to deliver on a dream that she still holds dear. The fact that she has gone to source her own team and gained the backing from a couple of unique places, even if one of them feels like a blatant “force him in because there is a movie coming out”, shows her determination and the not quite obvious pairing still carries a certain logic. Amongst the world shaping, there are a couple of dialogue pieces that truly sparkle and show the depth of affection that these characters have for each other.
The art is brought to you by Mahmud A. Asrar whose work has been seen in a number of Marvel books as well as a smattering of DC and Indie stuff. With all that said, I am not sure I have seen his work before. Here the page layouts work well with the initial chase scene truly setting the scene. From there, the politics take centre stage, with Asrar’s jutting pencils losing some of the impact of the action pieces. When books hit a serious tone, the emotions need to be seen in the faces. Looking through the pages, I think there is a level of inconsistency on show which does spoil the flow of the book. Asrar does pull out the stops for the pseudo-climax, which kind of proves my action orientation first theory. Asrar also provides the inks, which do have a heavy look to them. This heavy element is carried over in the colors by Ive Svorcina.
As a line in the sand, X-Men Red clearly sets out its stall. It’s a serious take on the serious metaphorical racism of mutant kind versus human, which I am glad to say adds some weight to the oft changing, oft staying the same world in which all involved cohabitate.
Writing – 4 Stars
Art – 3 Stars
Colors 3.5 Stars
Written by; Tom Taylor
Art by; Mahmud A. Asrar
Colors by; Ive Svorcina
Published by; Marvel Worldwide Inc.