Comic Book Review: X-Men: Red #9
This issue was one that I was not sure I was fully prepared for. How the X-Men: Red team foiled the plans of Cassandra Nova was brilliant, and it was heavy. I was not sure how you could beat that, but knowing Tom Taylor the ceiling can always move higher for a series that he writes. Things can always get worse when Nova manages to steal the mind of a Grey on top of Forge. Rachel versus Jean would be one for the record books.
I liked the way we jumped into this next chapter of the war. Given the way that Rachel left the institute, it would have been irritating if no one was able to piece together that it was her who was targeted by Nova. The approach towards what kind of fight this would turn into was enjoyable for the fact that we were able to once again see how the bond of this team was only stronger from their experiences. This was a team that was prepared to do anything to make sure Nova’s plans couldn’t come to fruition. The kind of team that also wouldn’t allow any one of them to do something they couldn’t probably assist with. Tom Taylor dug into that well of heart that some of these X-Men stories neglect. They get so caught up in the action and grand schemes, that they forget that at the core of the X-Men, they are pretty much family. That means they may be a team, but they are much more than that label to each other.
There was a new version of Jean we were seeing here that I couldn’t quite put my fingers on. She definitely shifted to that mode where she felt like she was best equipped for the job, yet at the same time you could also see that understanding of how important it is that a situation involving a telepath like Rachel can only be solved with someone on that same level. A step further was even taken to show what difference there is to this Jean who is not afraid of herself, others, or the idea that there is more than one way to respond to conflict.
When the time came for that engagement, it was explosive. It was quick, it was exciting, and it was straight to the point. One thing I will give credit to this creative team for is that they do not drag out the action. There is a good balance between that and the story progression to satisfy everyone. Even if it was a swiftly decisive clash of telepaths, that is not something you are going to get to see every day. How it ended you could have seen coming a mile away, but it was what followed which catches you off guard. It was one thing to fear what Jean would do when crossed, but there was also something from Rachel to fear when being crossed so personally. Cassandra Nova is just a villain you love to hate for the kind of games she plays. It was chilling to see how deep her hatred ran, and the value that she could give to any single mutant life. That is what makes it so thrilling to see what can happen when she herself can be pushed against a wall. This was a great issue if not just for how dangerous she can be in that kind of position.
Honestly, there was nothing but love for the way that Taylor also continues to make Gabby the shining star of every book that she is in. This girl reminds you of the wonders of being a superhero, and just being someone who can see the best in a situation. I don’t think there has been a single line of dialogue from her that doesn’t put a smile on your face, or one that you wouldn’t want to show to your friends. She is nothing like your average lab-created weapon. Even smaller moments like with Gentle and Trinary were memorable for the fact that these two characters who are both new and have seen much of are getting a different kind of spotlight. Their connection is innocent, and a bit humorous since they are both inexperienced to certain kinds of expressions.
This month the baton has been passed to Roge Antonia for artist to X-Men: Red. We’ve had our cycle of artists for this book, and I’m pleased that there hasn’t been a single change you could argue with. Each penciler has had their own style and approach towards the interior art, but none have ever given you the impression that the quality could be lacking. Antonia did a fantastic job for this issue putting the same quality of work into the mold of the characters, the strength of their ability in expression, and constant positions that speak to what you love about the characters most. Laura being blunt, Gabby being goofy, Jean being powerful and intimidating. And it also helped having someone as capable with colors as Rain Beredo to bring it all together. As usual I loved the depth given through the color variations, the highlights, shadows, and heavy glows to emphasize power. I don’t know who was responsible for the grainy effect that was seen here and there, but it wasn’t a bad addition.
I like to be wrong. I was very wrong when I thought initially that nothing could top the events of the previous issue of X-Men: Red. It was a great feeling knowing that Tom Taylor knows how to hit you with a heavy story that genuinely represents what it means to fight for the future of a group of people. Why hasn’t this guy been writing more of the X-Men stories?