Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Stefano Caselli
Color Artist: Federico Blee
Cover Artist: Russell Dauterman
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Mars has bee terraformed by mutants and is inhabited by mutants, the mutants of Arakko. But now that relative calmness is in jeopardy as all of mutantkind have been betrayed by Abigail Brand who’s playing a bigger game than just the fate of Earth. But Storm and her Brotherhood have something to say about that. But as X-Men Red #9 has shown, they’ll need to deal with the resurrected Vulcan first.
I will be frank, this comic is disappointing. I’m usually a fan of Al Ewing’s stories in Marvel Comics, especially when they’re centered on the more Sci-Fi and Cosmic side of things like in his Defenders: Beyond series. However, this issue fails to generate any real excitement, thrills, conflict, or sense of suspense in the story. By the end of the last issue, readers were shown that Vulcan is back and has been resurrected but it seems he’s no longer a fractured mess like before. Now, Emperor Vulcan is back but clearly not for long. Fair warning: There will be some spoilers in this review.
In my last review, I said that this series fails to build up any tension with Vulcan because Al Ewing keeps undermining his power and threat almost every chance he gets. The first time was against Warpath in a scuffle in the first issue, the second was when he was bested by Storm rather quickly in the second issue. Then the third time was when Abigail Brand set him up to face the deadly Arakkii mutant Tarn in ceremonial ritual combat and was promptly killed in that fight. Ewing believes he can still get fans excited now that Vulcan’s back in full form, but he spent the entire series repeatedly humiliating Vulcan and lessening any menace he could have.
In this issue, we get to see Vulcan’s resurrection and while the scene is interesting, it doesn’t really do much to establish the threat of Vulcan, instead it just superficially builds him up and throws him at Ewing’s favorite alien cosmic bags: the Shi’ar and Nova. Once more, Stefano Caselli continues to deliver with the art and make each page just pop with life. The best examples are of course with Vulcan as he uses his powers with full control and we get the inkling of a cool villain thanks to Caselli’s art. The comic also shows what’s happening on the Progenitors’ World Farm and what Cable’s team is up to, and aside from one moment, not much really happens there. The real star of this comic is Vulcan.
Now, I’ll admit I liked the sharp and venomous dialogue lines Ewing wrote for Vulcan in this issue. He really has Vulcan go for the low blows when it comes to the other characters. We get to see the glimpses of what can make Vulcan a powerful and potentially terrifying villain. But it doesn’t last as Vulcan fails to achieve his true goal at the Diplomatic Zone and the story leads Vulcan to Magneto’s Summer Palace on Mars where Storm is waiting for him and Vulcan is eager for round 2. But I’m not.
Again, Al Ewing wasted every chance he had to show Vulcan as a powerful and dangerous figure but kept undercutting him each time. And now, for what could possibly be the last issue in Issue #10, he’s trying to get readers hyped for the rematch between Storm and Vulcan who has his mind fully restored. But considering what happened last time, it’s safe to say that Storm’s going to win again hands down. Now, throughout this entire review I didn’t mention Abigail Brand and that’s because she’s barely in it and while Ewing is setting her up as a well-intentioned extremist who’s gone too far, it doesn’t show. And her plan is full of so many obvious holes that when Ewing has the big reveal, I at least wasn’t shocked.
X-Men Red #9 continues where it left off with a newly resurrected Vulcan with his full mental state in order and ready to be emperor again. However, the fights don’t really have any tension to them since past issues have undercut any menace Vulcan could’ve had in the series and Abigail Brand barely has a presence in this comic. Hopefully the next issue turns things around.