Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Al Ewing
Artists: Stefano Caselli & Federico Blee
Letterer: VC’s Ariana Maher
Around the time of the Hellfire Gala last year, the X-Men quickly terraformed Mars and named it Arakko, a home for mutants from both Krakoa and Amenth. Storm did most of the heavy lifting, and found herself a seat on the Great Ring, Arakko’s body of government. After that though, we didn’t get much more than a few peeks as to what Storm and the rest of Arakko’s mutants are doing up there. Finally, writer Al Ewing, artists Stefano Caselli and Federico Blee, and letterer Ariana Maher are giving readers a proper series about Arakko. X-Men Red is here.
Some of the most fascinating books in the Krakoa era put the spotlight on how the society functions, rather than just typical X-Men shenanigans. The Destiny of X era already has the new Immortal X-Men series, so fans are feasting with the addition of X-Men Red. Al Ewing continues to astound with a fascinating look at Arakkan society and how they have been shaped by war.
Storm fans will find plenty to love in this issue, as Ororo continues to showcase why she has consistently been one of the best leaders over the decades. Ewing writes especially well here, with a full understanding of the character’s motivations while also being aware of how humanity’s history has shaped her. Dialogues with Brand about the distinction between colonizing Mars and what they actually did, as well as constant conflicts regarding being a “queen” in Arakko are compelling throughout the issue.
What’s more impressive about X-Men Red #1 is how every character involved gets just as great moments as Ororo does. Following his departure from the Quiet Council last week, Magento finds himself having a crisis. Sunspot is mostly thriving in his own business on Arakko. Cable, Thunderbird, and Vulcan are really going through it, but all have thoroughly entertaining moments throughout the issue. Even better, they all look absolutely fantastic.
Stefano Caselli makes every panel in X-Men Red #1 a treat. The characters all look their best, with facial expressions that tell stories and also stick to character. Everyone’s composure nails their demeanor, showing that it isn’t just the writer that understands these characters. Federico Blee’s coloring and shading adds tons of depth to each character, with Sunspot and Storm especially benefitting from Blee’s colors. Both Caselli and Blee ensure that the Red Planet looks as good as the characters that inhabit it too. Readers can expect tons of powerful reds and oranges, but will be surprised by the serene greens and blues that fill the landscapes as well.
Ariana Maher’s lettering goes above and beyond all expectations, with more than solid lettering throughout all of the bubbles. Maher is also credited with the designs of this issue, and the various boxes throughout X-Men Red #1 have a nice boldness to them that suits the new setting.
Last week I called Immortal X-Men #1 the most entertaining debut X-Men issue in a while, and it seems that X-Men Red #1 has already topped that just one week later. The entire creative team does an excellent job at breathing life into Arakko while also delivering stellar character moments and establishing high stakes.
X-Men Red #1
X-Men Red #1 is the best debut issue of the Krakoa era. Every character involved is at their best thanks to superb writing and art in every panel.