X-Men Red #9
This story begins after Brand convinces Xavier to perform a little bit of psychic surgery on Vulcan before his resurrection. What's one more extraordinarily horrible decision from our good friend Chuckles?
Al Ewing deftly melds exquisite characterisation with the base mechanics of a well-oiled plot, producing a story that ticks along nicely without ever sacrificing a modicum of depth. Like a fine watch, the closer you examine its inner workings, the more there is to see. Whether it’s the Summers brothers sniping at each other about their romantic lives, their parental figures, and the people they choose to trust, or Brand revealing herself, at last, to be the very worst kind of monster (hint: she, like Beast, will do anything to inflict her version of care on the people of her choosing) this story will keep you hooked from the first panel to the last.
Abigail Brand has always been a fascinating villain and it’s interesting to see her actions (and her justifications for those actions) indirectly contrasted with the atrocities and self-delusions committed by both Hank McCoy and Charles Xavier. Ewing sets up this triple-mirror effect with such subtlety and flare that the reader comes to it almost unconsciously. Here is Xavier, being manipulated into altering someone’s brain against their will and justifying it to himself with platitudes. There’s Brand, manipulating intergalactic politics using the same methods, while Hank hovers in the background, prodding people in the dark. And all three of them are being set up to become undone by their own hubris. I, for one, am excited to see what Brand’s face looks like when she realizes how badly she has failed.
I know that, when the moment comes, Stefano Caselli will draw it absolutely perfectly. Caselli’s art has been consistently brilliant. He is as adept at capturing close, guarded emotions as he is at depicting scenes of shattering violence or incendiary revelation. The final page of this story, rendered by him, is worth the cover price all by itself. Federico Blee’s color art is masterfully applied, transforming a well written, well-rendered book into a living world. I have been consistently impressed by his work.
Abigail Brand is discovering the problems with using people as chess pieces: namely that the damned things just keep skittering across the board.
X-Men Red #9: Hail, Hail
- Writing - 10/1010/10
- 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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