X-Men: Red Annual #1: In which we see Jean Grey get reacquainted with the world after her resurrection, only to find that it still tastes like “mustard and bigotry.”
X-Men: Red Annual #1
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Pascal Alixe
Letters: Cory Petit
Cover Artist: Travis Charest; variant by Dave Johnson; Arthur Adams & Sabine Rich
Colorist: Chris Sotomayor
Publisher: MARVEL COMICS
What You Need to Know:
Jean Grey, dead for years, recently returned from the dead and cast off the Phoenix Force in Phoenix: Resurrection. X-Men: Red #1 saw Jean with a new team of X-Men, but the time in-between remained unexplored… until now.
What You’ll Find Out:
In terms of plot, this issue was as simple as it gets. Jean is reunited with her friends and family (at least those that are still among us) and is filled in on some of the happenings that she missed, all of which helps her to make up her mind to take up a mission to change the world. In the epilogue, Rachel is confronted by Cassandra Nova, who makes ominous threats about using her as a weapon eventually, something to be expected in the pages of Red in the near future.
What Just Happened?
Regardless of the depth of the narrative in terms of moving Red forward, the character depth of this issue speaks volumes. A variety of interactions, from Kurt to Black Bolt, firmly re-establish Jean Grey in the Marvel Universe in a way that seemed missing in Resurrection. Jean Grey has been dead since New X-Men #150 (Feb. 2004), meaning there are currently 14-year-olds that have never lived in a world in which our Jean Grey, the classic, O5 Phoenix Saga Jean Grey, was alive. However, with a deft pen and a sharp wit, Tom Taylor brought the world up to speed side-by-side with Jean through relentless confrontations that never felt rushed or pressured.
Artistically, Pascal Alixe’s renderings were nothing short of breathtaking. They stood in stark contrast to the regular artist, Mahmud Asrar’s minimalist approach, constructing elaborate backgrounds and highly detailed figures throughout. There is something striking about the realism applied to Jean’s form in this issue. She still has a superhero physique, but perhaps slightly aged, a bit fuller, somewhat more… real. The truest star of this particular issue, though—the unifying force tying the artwork and the dialogue together—was the stunning work done by colorist Chris Sotomayor. Performing an often-underappreciated task, Sotomayor makes sure that every panel of this highly emotional comic jumps off the page and sears itself into the mind of the reader. It is a rare talent, and I will be looking for his name in other upcoming issues across the industry.
Final Thought: I will echo what I’m already starting to see across the internet as I write this on release day: X-Men: Red Annual #1 is my front-runner for the single comic of the year thus far. I intentionally tried to not spoil too many of the more touching moments experienced here, because one should not rob others of that beauty if it can be helped.
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