X-Men Red 14
As the remnants of The Great Ring regroup amidst the rubble of their empire, Genesis continues her destruction of Arakko.
At first glance, X-Men Red #14 seemed less character-driven, and in a sense more clumsy, than previous installments, but although Ewing wasn’t using this space to either grant us further insight into the nature of these characters or propel the plot, this installment did provide a necessary sense of tone. Arakko is in the midst of an existential war, a conflict that springs from the essential question, ‘Who are we, and what kind of people do we want to be?’ Seeing this conflict, in all of its extended brutality, is necessary for us, as readers, to understand the stakes.
This story succeeded in driving home the cost of this existential question.
On the one hand, there is Genesis – a woman possessed by a god of chaos and destruction – who uses her mutant ability to create new life to feed innumerable corpses into the maw of death. Facing her is a goddess, consecrated to life, who uses the killing fire of a lightning bolt to broker peace. These women are less opposites than mirror images of one another, and that is a fascinating approach for Ewing to have taken.
As previously mentioned, character development is not the story’s central point, but that doesn’t mean that this issue is devoid of the insight that makes Ewing’s work so deeply enjoyable. The endless rivers of death (masterfully depicted by Cinar’s linework and Blee’s astonishing colors) were held in stark relief by Sunspot’s terrible, bleakly exhausted grief at the death of Sam. The swaggering leader was bleeding and broken in spirit by the loss of his friend, and the force of this moment was such that it was enough to carry the whole weight of the Fall and bring it home to us, so that we, as readers, cannot escape it.
As mentioned, Yildiray Cinar’s linework is nothing short of masterful. Whether he’s depicting quiet moments of grief, or a goddess riding high upon a storm of her own making, he renders each panel with a level of skill that verges upon perfection. Federico Blee remains one of the best colorists in the business. He elevates the art in every book he works on, and his contribution can neither be underestimated or dismissed. If I see his name on a title, I’ll pick it up, even if the writing doesn’t deserve his skill.
This was a brutal, wearying, battle of a book, filled with miseries of every stripe. The stakes of The Fall have never been higher, or the conflict more dire. Only a fool would miss out on this story.
X-Men Red #14: Civil War
- Writing - 9.5/109.5/10
- Storyline - 9.5/109.5/10
- Art - 10/1010/10
- Color - 10/1010/10
- Cover Art - 9.5/109.5/10
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