After a tumultuous event that sent the Red Team seeking asylum, the mission moves forward as Jean Grey leads her team out of the safety of Wakanda and back into the field in search of a new mutant called Trinary, after a mysterious beckoning from capture deep in Delhi India, where another old enemy awaits them.
X-MEN RED #2 (THE HATE MACHINE PART 2: TRINARY)
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Mahmud Asrar
Colorist: Ive Svorcina
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover Artists: Travis Charest
Variant Cover: N/A
Editors: Mark Paniccia
Publisher: Marvel Comics
What You Need to Know:
Jean Grey, newly emancipated from the Phoenix’s cosmic talons (or seemingly so) has endeavored a global mission to reawaken old dreams by teachers long gone of a world in which peaceful coexistence between man and mutant can still be achieved. Wasting no time in the fallout of sudden resurrection and breaking the shackles of the Phoenix force, she is joined by a ready cadre of experienced X-Men, old and new, and an assembly of strong super-powered monarchs already on the global stage ready to aid her cause, but unaware of a familiar yet malevolent force with a sinister endgame behind the scenes, ready to pull the puppet-strings to thwart her team’s ambitious yet unrelenting mission of peace among humans and mutants.
What You’ll Find Out:
The voice of Tom Taylor’s Jean Grey continues to resound strong in this follow-up to a solid premiere, echoing an unyielding and curious but cautious approach to having been violently framed in the public eye after her appearance at the United Nations Summit. The media’s divisive response to the well-documented event coupled with mob outcries against mutants the world over have driven the newly assembled Red Team to seek asylum in the haven of Wakanda, with all the natural and technological resources of the kingdom at their temporary disposal.
The latter has activated the team’s response to a call from a new mutant technopath under the callsign Trinity, who is deeply involved in underground social justice and humanitarian efforts in India seeking aid and rescue specifically from the team’s leader herself. With apprehension from new leader Grey to call her team to action as they enjoy a brief breather, intimately aware that their name has already been slandered and image destroyed and thus pulling them further from public favor, her concerns to endanger them to extradition from their home, legally and permanently, is met with pushback and a unified front to continue their mission.
The Red Team then finds themselves in deep covert-ops in Delhi, deeply aware of their foreign surroundings and difficult diplomatic circumstances. Minimally-used powers in hopes to evade surveillance and ruined cover lead to a successful discovery of Trinity’s whereabouts, shortly before the outbreak of a violent response to detection, realizing a new mysterious threat inhibiting Grey’s immense powers against a crowd under a veiled control, and yet another old enemy rising from beneath them in the midst of turmoil.
What Just Happened?
A cold open of a familiar mutant witch hunt and a response by a divisive media has often become the default to re-engagement in the X-Men narrative in both comic and film for old and new readers, coupled with the ignorant and uninformed rantings by angry men on television (something we can all relate to and undoubtedly have a ready response to these days), a diagetic mechanism informing the reader of the socio-political climate established within X-Men Red, directly citing Grey’s involvement in the United Nations event as the anchor to the violent response. The exposition is colored, yet again, by the current political atmosphere in the real world, woven into familiar angles employed by both sides of the struggle for truth and perspective on larger issues in mutant-human relations. The book is clearly striving to indicate it’s politically-charged narrative undercurrent despite the backdrop of super-heroics and fictitious grandeur.
Seemingly continuing to integrate film popularity, especially with the X-Men’s potentially nigh introduction to the MCU, the issue finds the team seeking asylum, nestled deep in familiar Wakanda, under the protection of the borders of the Kingdom and seeing the team in a short breather between missions. A very noteworthy hallmark of the team’s humanity and a nod to early 90’s X-Men storytelling (in tradition of Scott Lobdell’s run and touched on some in more recent All-New X-Men storylines) is a display on the fun, quiet moments the team has that depict them as a relatable family peacefully at home (if not temporarily so), and not just a paramilitary squad hellbent on reassembling their roster every six months coupled with obnoxiously frequent redesigns of their uniforms (which, in my honest opinion, I’m almost always getting ready for in engaging in today’s big-title comics). The solid home-base’s resources provide a prime front seat to investigating the newest blip on the radar: a technopath humanitarian under capture in Delhi, India operating under the callsign Trinary, seeking out (albeit specifically and mysteriously) Jean Grey, leaving the reader only to surmise that the association was fueled by what happened at the Summit in the previous issue. Taylor still wants to show an effective and compassionate leader in Grey, indicating her concern that dragging the team along will effectively endanger their diplomatic standing in fallout from the event, but puts up no significant fight when given push-back by a ready and enthusiastic Red Team to follow her back into danger once again.
Stealth is key on this particular mission, a narrative that seems deeply concerned with exploring diplomacy and political intrigue, and yet does nothing to indicate the difficulty of the team moving around despite border control and their access to singular, unimaginable and historically effective superpowers. The outing very much echoes the MCU Avengers approach (particularly in the cold open mission in MCU Civil War), almost as if the creative team behind RED was tasked to follow the Marvel films’ very raw, very humanly grounded, ultimately very un-X-Menly approach to their infiltration of the underground stronghold in Delhi. What follows is a display of very short-range and prudent use of the powers of very formidable X-Men in hopes to evade detection, but to no avail, as their presence is quickly undermined by a ready mob from outside the premises and a strange unknown force inhibiting the powerful telepath’s omega-level efforts to subdue the mob, upon finding and rescuing Trinary, in midst of a hurried introduction. Rounded out with the cliffhanger seeing the rise of yet another familiar and formidable enemy, the team soon realizes that their mission has suffered yet another counter-attack but from various mysterious avenues, seemingly from all sides.
Some things that don’t add up for me here: 1) Why try and discourage melee fighters and an experienced teleporter from a rescue mission, knowing full well they’ve already been made as members of the renegade squad to the world over and 2) If Jean Grey wished to use her psionic suggestion ‘sleep’ as her power to subdue a crowd later in the mission, why not use that same very nonviolent maneuver in the offing as soon as they had arrived in the first place? Some of the critiques that had weighed down the first issue still persist here, as well. The same serious expressions from the artist are repeated, especially with the women, from being in the midst of very present danger to being flung from explosion. Strong crowd and establishing environment shots from wide angles reign, but some sequential paneling fails from exploration of camera angles yet again. Though exploring the same shot in a repetition to invoke an emotional response, the panels are much too repeated in terms of both camera angle and distance, virtually using the same shot over and over again (somewhat of a waste of comic page real estate). Visual storytelling can be pushed further in many of the panels that try and repeat shots (specifically in the screen captures of the new Trinity depicting almost the same expression and shot thrice over). Paneling problems also arise where figures fail to follow the floor plan from one panel to the next, indicating some slight lack of attention to detail, causality and action flow.
The strengths are clear, however, and I see where Taylor’s mission is evolving to: introducing an international, female mutant championing a humanitarian cause and equipped with a familiar yet historically underused mutant ability is a bit on-the-nose and incidental, but provides good drive in a team balanced with a lead character wrought with deep emotional trauma (yet unexplored) and reader bias. Honeybadger’s youth and innocence is a strong counter-balance to the weight and power of Jean Grey’s presence also, a humorous and charming undercurrent to an otherwise serious and self-important political narrative. Although slow in pace, there is still potential with the unfolding narrative in regards to tangled puppet-strings pulled from behind-the-scenes; the reemergence of familiar villains still serves as a mechanism to give old fans a home in the new world being explored by this book’s creative team.
Rating: 6/ 10
This is still a superhero story, but best not to overly use tactics employed in the films to play out on a comic page; careful use of the comic real estate to tell the story needs a bit more focus. The issue unfolds in hopes to spotlight and introduce the X-Men’s potential newest mutant recruit (not a spoiler since she appears on almost the entire promotional campaign for the book pre-issue #1), immediately in the aftermath of the premiere’s main cast and their embarking on a very ambitious global mission. Though rounding out a solidifying cast, the introduction is hurried and under-informed, though given the circumstances makes some sense, however, questions of “why her, why now” persist. I’m also finding the challenge in seeing extremely powerful and capable individuals prudent and unnecessarily troubled in taking on relatively small endeavors, and a pace that, although begins to spotlight the very human aspects of this team, isn’t yet carefully balanced with the raw energy that makes these super-powered characters holistically intriguing.
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