Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Juann Cabal, Andres Genolet, Michael Sta. Maria
Letterer & Production: VC’s Ariana Maher
Design: Tom Muller with Jay Bowen
X-Men Red is all about big questions and bigger statements. X-Men Red #4 takes the form of three discussions regarding the nature of death and life. Two of those chats relate the concepts of mortality and immortality to that of mutant sovereignty, questioning the fairness of an undying council of leadership. Is immortality the gift of life, or an omnipotent dictator’s greatest tool?
These are some of the questions raised, with Tarn the Uncaring, Sunspot, Rockslide/Wrongslide, and Empress Neramani occupying different places in the heady yet dynamic, engaging conversations.
While Magneto and Storm each have massive moments to conclude X-Men #4, I couldn’t help feel that the core of the issue was Sunspot and Wrongslide; from the latter’s innocent, confounded stare to greet Sunspot after his latest resurrection, to their heartfelt exchange along the beaches of Krakoa.
Kudos to Al Ewing, who could have completely dropped the Rockslide thread, or played the character as a sad, speechless golem. Instead, Wrongslide is fully aware of who and what he is. He understands and even empathizes with the mutants who see him, smile at the sight of their friend, then sadly remember they are looking at a stranger. But Wrongslide is alive, and he’s grateful for that.
It’s teased Wrongslide will be headed to space next month. Whether it’s a vacation or an invitation to join Storm’s new Brotherhood, I hope he enjoys his time.
Storm, meanwhile, continues to elevate mutants as the primary species in the solar system. In doing so, she delivers one of the harshest, most satisfying lines in recent comics: “Mutantkind does not need your permission to live–or to thrive. Understand that…and perhaps our miracles will surprise you less.”
Juann Cabal serves as the book’s main artist, contributing a number of pristine panels to the growing forest of beautiful pages that make up Krakoa-era X-Men. Unfortunately, the issue features three artists. Andres Genolet and Michael Maria do fine work, but not to Cabal’s standards and, more simply, three artists on one book is too many.
But it’s a small price to pay for more mutants.
Not a punch is thrown, yet X-Men Red continues to be one of the most impactful reads for X fans.