Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Stefano Casseli
Color Artist: Federico Blee
Cover Artists: Russel Dauterman & Matt Hollingsworth
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The mutants have done many things since forming their mutant nation of Krakoa, least of which was relocating a million mutants with a warrior culture to a terraformed Mars. Relations between the mutants of Krakoa and Arrako have not been great, but now their worth are being tested as they face the threat of annihilation by the hands of the Eteranals in X-Men Red #5, more specifically, the ancient Eternal Uranos, grandfather of Thanos!
For those wondering if this issue really shows you what happened to the mutants on Mars during the events of AxE: Judgement Day #1. Yes, you do. You get exactly what you want: witnessing Uranos’ attack on the Arakkii mutants. The comic shows the firsthand destruction Uranos brings to the leaders of Arakko and the rest of their mutant population in one hour.
The comic doesn’t waste any time and after a short meeting with the Great Ring, Uranos appears all Hell breaks loose. Al Ewing does a fine job showing the utter devastation caused by Uranos and his personal armories of Eternal war machines that are unleashed upon the mutants of Mars. The comic shows the planetary assault in very familiar locations on Mars set up by the Arakkii mutants and shown in preivous X-Men Red issues as the entire planet is attacked. On top of that, the comic keeps things suspenseful by counting down the hour Uranos has to “correct deviation” before he returns to his cell.
There is a lot of good stuff here, but there are a couple of bad things too. Let’s start with the good then go into the bad. First, the series of fights between Uranos and the members of the Great Ring, including Magneto, Cable, and the rest of them, are illustrated really well. Stefano Caselli does a great job with the action and fights. Second, most of the heavy hitters get their time to shine. Obviously, that includes Magneto, Cable and everyone else, except for Abigail Brand, she’s pretty much useless here and has nothing to do. Third, Magneto steals the show like in previous issues even when things are going south for him and the rest.
Now, on to the bad. If you’ve read Al Ewing’s S.W.O.R.D. series, then you know how the series kid of got derailed by constantly tying into other big events happening at the time of its run. The same thing happens here as Ewing has to table all of his storylines and ideas he’s been building up to with the martian mutants to suit the Judgement Day event. Plus, there are some battles with major characters that get sidelined off-panel that readers don’t get to see, but you know they want to. I’ll reveal a couple examples in the SPOILERS section along with a criticism on Uranos.
Other than that, the comic’s not bad, it’s cool if you’re digging Judgement Day. The only real negative takeaway here is just where Al Ewing is going to take the main cast, let alone the mutants of Arakko after what Uranos does to them.
A quick nitpick. I mentioned that the comic cuts away from a couple of good fights that I’m sure people would love to see. One of which is Nightcrawler versus Isca The Unbeaten, who practically turns against the other mutants right before Uranos shows up because “she can’t lose.” The second is that Uranos’ first real fight is with Legion, that’s right THE Legion, but the comic cuts away after Legion eggs Uranos to fight him in the sky away from the others. The comic never shows the fight or any signs of the combat between them whatsoever, just the aftermath: Uranos victorious.
Speaking of which. Uranos himself isn’t all that impressive. At best, he’s a…functional villain. He does what he’s sent there to do: kill as many mutants as possible before the hour’s up. He does have a few good lines of banter here and there, but that’s it. Nothing more, nothing less. The bigger problem is that Uranos’ “powers” are never really shown, and he does have powers as established by Kieron Gillen’s Eternals: Uranos #1 one-shot. But the only thing it shows is the Eternals’ hexagonal portal technology and some quick bit of laser vision. If we’re lucky, we might get to see his powers later in the A.X.E. Judgement Day event.
For fans wanting to see what led to the aftermath of Mars seen in A.X.E.: Judgement Day #1, X-Men Red #5 provides what you’re looking for. The comic doesn’t waste any time and goes right into the action, showing the red planet under assault by Uranos and his war machines. The fighting between Uranos and the mutants is cool with some unexpected twists and developments.