X-Men Red #8
Abigail Brand is back in the driver's seat, and she's piloting Krakoa into a tail-spin. The only good news? Cable and company are onto her games and they're ready to wrest the wheel away from her. Can they right this flight before the crash?
Al Ewing is starting this latest arc with a bang, setting up a conflict of intergalactic proportions and exposing Abigail Brand as the Big Bad that she’s been since X-Men Red began. Quite a lot of this issue was dedicated to setting up the action to follow, but there was still an incredible amount of character development, action, and generally stellar writing — enough of all three to prevent this issue from feeling like a shovelful of exposition.
As has become usual, Ewing takes characters that were created or introduced by Si Spurrier and makes them interesting. In this instance, Weaponless Zsen is elevated from a one-note warrior into a complex (conflicted) protagonist who is searching for meaning in a world in which she feels as though she doesn’t fit. She’s also revealed to have family, from whom she is estranged, and that revelation is certain to affect other important characters in very interesting ways.
It was good to see Cable’s devious brand of survivalist cleverness fully at play in this story as he and Wiz Kid unravel Brand’s machinations without her knowledge. The fact that the plot they’re uncovering is absolutely terrifying (the stakes of this story build with every page, and we still haven’t discovered the end game) is a testament to Ewing’s masterful pacing.
It’s true that this issue provides more plot than poetry, but one can’t have everything, and the balance between what we know, what we want to know, and what the author decides to reveal is absolutely perfect.
Madibek Musibekov’s art is slightly more cartoonish than what’s come before, the features are a bit exaggerated and the faces are all a bit similar, but this is a stylistic choice that will no doubt appeal to many. It’s a choice, not an error. Musibekov’s scenery is absolutely beautiful: detailed and lived in. It feels like a real world. Federico Blee provides his usual rich, astonishing colors, and Ariana Maher’s letters are perfectly designed.
This is a satisfying, well-balanced story, and an enticing, action-packed beginning to what promises to be another amazing arc.
X-MEN RED#8: Checkmate
- Writing - 9/109/10
- Storyline - 9.5/109.5/10
- Art - 8.5/108.5/10
- Color - 9/109/10
- Cover Art - 9/109/10