After the events of Phoenix Resurrection, the original Jean Grey is back in the Marvel Comics Universe and has put together a team to save the world in X-Men Red #1. Her team consists of Gentle, Namor, Nightcrawler, Trinary, Honey Badger, and Wolverine (X-23).
X-Men Red #1 is written by Tom Taylor, with art by Mahmud Asrar, colors by Ive Svorcina, and letters by Cory Petit. You might know Taylor from his work on the All-New Wolverine and Superior Iron Man. It is good to see how Asrar has evolved over the years. The first time I saw his work was in Dynamo 5 back in 2007.
The Hate Machine Part 1: Heal The World is most definitely a giant political statement about the current state of the world, but that is what pop culture is supposed to be, a reflection of society. What separates superhero comics is they have the ability to inspire us to be better. Yes, there are evil people in the world, and yes, the journey will be arduous, but that’s the hero’s journey!
Taylor sets up a great hero’s journey for Jean Grey in 30-pages. The book starts off with what feels like a cinematic action-packed sequence to get you excited to read the book. Then the story arc is set up with a bit of mystery, and the ends with the reveal of Jean’s nemesis. This is textbook “how to write a compelling comic book” craftsmanship. What elevates X-Men Red #1 to a better than average book is the emotional weight Taylor puts into Jean. Taylor places Jean in a Superman tale, wrapped up in the political climate of 2018. The story will be messy and inspirational. The X-Men will always be the perfect team to use to discuss social issues; they were timely in the 60s, and they are timely now.
The Superman parallel comes from the one-page single panel of Jean floating above the Earth listening to the world’s problems. She then gets the world’s greatest minds together to search for the answer, and she even speaks before the United Nations. Her actions work like a Superman checklist! All jokes aside, this feels right for the return of Jean Grey. Like Captain America, she is now a fish out of water and must catch up with the times. Taylor’s writing combined with Asrar’s artwork leans into the emotional weight of the situations.
Asrar’s style is a little inconsistent at times, but he knows how to draw action and movement, the most important elements of any comic. Petit’s letters assist the action well. The one-page single panel of Jean floating above the world is a frameable piece of art. The detail is brilliant, from the Earth to her hair, you can feel the wind coming off the page. This could be a personal taste issue, but Asrar puts a line down the chin of his characters which sometimes flattens a face and or clutters up a feminine looking face. Maybe a conversation between the artist, colorist, and editor could clean up some panels.
What will make this book fun is the team, with the balance of age and emotions. Namor and Nightcrawler are on the opposite sides of the emotional spectrum, and then you have Honey Badger, Trinary, and Wolverine to balance out the veterans. Putting together the right team will help pull the right emotions out of a writer.
X-Men Red #1 feels like a superhero book, but more importantly, it feels like an X-Men book. A must read for X-Men fans.