Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Stefano Caselli
Color Artist: Federico Blee
Cover Artists: Russel Dauterman & Matthew Wilson
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The Mutants of Earth have terraformed the planet Mars and renamed it in the honor of their ancient warrior brethren – Arakko. However, conflict looms over the red planet as its regent, Storm, prepares to form a new Brotherhood of Mars. But as we’ll see in X-Men Red #2, Storm isn’t the only one forming a team.
One thing this comic does well is rejuvenating life into a couple of abandoned storylines and characters from previous phases of the X-Men Krakoa era, namely Vulcan and the challenging culture of the mutants of Arakko. Al Ewing is finding his footing with both of these elements pretty well and is weaving a story with them in this comic. The comic gives readers what’s on the cover: Storm vs. Vulcan. However, there’s a little bit more to their fight.
The story follows Abigail Brand recruiting multiple mutants to form the X-Men Red team, the X-Men of Mars. Most of the characters are pulled from Ewing’s previous S.W.O.R.D. series, but Vulcan is the main standout. Vulcan is the star character in this comic, he gets the most focus highlighting his mental instability compounded with other issues, which proves a dangerous combination when coupled with his destructive powers and personality. The comic is intent on establishing him as a major player in the series going forward and it succeeds in that.
Ironically enough, the other members of the X-Men Red team are far from impressive and are only there to be shown up by the Brotherhood of Arakko. The new Brotherhood don’t really get much screen time, but when they show up the comic becomes cooler for it. We get to see them work in tandem with each other and the comic shows off Storm at every chance it gets. Fans of Storm who have wanted her character to have some bite to her will certainly get a piece of that in this comic both visually and in terms of her character.
The art by Stefano Caselli continues to excel in this comic with the characters, both major and minor, looking and feeling more alive and dynamic on each panel on every page. The colors Federico Blee also breathe life into Caselli’s artwork as the vibrant characters, attacks, and scenes come alive throughout the comic. This is best shown when the cover characters Storm and Vulcan are shown in action and they both feel larger than life in terms of their personality and powers that comes through in the art.
In my previous review, I said that one of the biggest problems for this series is its lack of a clear threat or villain, and this comic resolves that issue pretty quickly. It’s no question that Al Ewing set up Abigail Brand as a villain by the end of his S.W.O.R.D. and now you’re getting exactly that here. Ewing also sets things up where he can cash in on several of his previous ideas and characters he introduced in S.W.O.R.D. and other series for this comic. The only other criticism I have for this comic is that it all feels like prologue to the true story that Al Ewing is building through Storm and Brand, and it feels like the third issue is where we’ll start getting the real story.
X-Men Red #2 delivers on the story, art, and cover fight between Storm and Vulcan. The comic shows readers what the X-Men Red and the new Brotherhood of Mutants teams are made of. The story, dialogue, and pacing are evenly balanced as Storm, Vulcan, and other characters get their time to shine thanks to Caselli’s art and Federico Blee’s colors.