With Mars being turned into Planet Arakko it was only a matter of time before this new status quo got a focus on. We finally have that with X-Men: Red. The first issue already made a statement as Storm is looking to create something new by revitalizing the Brotherhood of Mutants on Planet Arakko. With the Brotherhood being brought back it is not surprising that the first person Storm would turn to is the newly former Quiet Council member Magneto, who has recently relocated to Planet Arakko for his “retirement.” What will happen with Storm and Magneto teaming up to form a new Brotherhood of Mutants? Let’s find out with X-Men: Red #2.
Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Stefano Caselli
Colorist: Federico Blee
Sometime ago at The Summer House Charles Xavier and Cyclops meet with Vulcan to talk about it now being possible to bring Petra and Sway back from the dead. Vulcan doesn’t handle this well as he believes Petra and Sway are alive, as he has been hallucinating them being with him and calling him “Emperor Vulcan.” Vulcan ends up blowing up The Summer House in his rage.
In the present Commander Abigail Brand has Vulcan join the new X-Men Red team, which includes Cable, Manifold, Frenzy, Mentallo, and Random, which she has formed to be the X-Men of Mars. Manifold and Frenzy do not like the idea of forcing Planet Arakko into an X-Men team. Manifold then brings up the questionable death of Henry Gyrich, which leads him to leave the team.
After asking and not getting a response about anyone else wanting to leave the X-Men Red team Commander Brand gets an alert of an attack on Planet Arakko’s Morrowlands area.
Cable teleports the X-Men Red to Morrowlands where they face off against the attacking Progenitors. The Progenitors are shown to be too powerful to deal with as they kill Cable. Seeing things turning south Commander Brand orders Vulcan to evacuate the people in the Morrowlands, even using force if necessary.
When Vulcan does as Commander Brand orders by intimidating the Morrowlands people with his powers he is immediately covered in ice by Storm to cool down.
Storm, Magneto, Sunspot, and Fisher King as the Brotherhood of Arakko show up to deal with the Progenitors. Fisher King, who the people of the Morrowlands call “Unarmed King,” rallies all the people to help the Brotherhood of Arakko take down the Progenitors.
Pissed off at being shown up Vulcan breaks free from his ice confinement by powering up. Storm quickly uses her powers to grab Vulcan by the neck. Storm then shows Vulcan he does not intimidate as a fellow Omega Mutant by taking him out with a powerful elemental attack.
Later, on the S.W.O.R.D Station Two base, Commander Brand wants Vulcan to be his inside agent in the Great Ring so she shows Vulcan a way to gain as much influence as Storm: by killing Tarn the Uncaring. End of issue.
No matter what genre your of story falls under the most important thing is to have compelling characters and narrative to drive everything. That is exactly what we have with X-Men: Red #2. This series does fall under the cosmic banner but it is much more than that as we see the story presented in this comic book unfold.
What immediately grabs your attention is how Al Ewing and Stefano Caselli use a lot of cosmic elements to tell a story driven by decisions characters make. Through X-Men: Red #2, like the first issue of the series, gets over how Planet Arakko is still in its infancy. While certain characters have been around for a long time the planet itself is brand new and still finding its identity as more communities are created by the day. That creates a very delicate state for Planet Arakko is in any move, right or wrong, can change how things operate on the planet.
This particular part of the story in X-Men: Red #2 is something you see how it is going to be a major factor for the rest of the series. Everything from Commander Abagail Brand forming the X-Men Red team to Storm enforcing her power by defeating Vulcan told this story. Just about anyone can be a difference maker on Planet Arakko which makes Vulcan’s own power grab so compelling.
Through Vulcan’s story of wanting everyone to see him as Emperor Vulcan, we get a lot of strong development for the ongoing Abagail Brand narrative. We already know that Brand is a triple agent as she is actually working on her own side that is against Krakoa and mutants. Gaining influence over Vulcan by using his unstable state and thirst for power is a great way to show how Brand is a master manipulator.
Making things even more compelling is that we are seeing more questioning of Brand’s actions. In X-Men: Red #2 alone not only do we see Manifold and Frenzy question the forming of the new team but Manifold straight up walks out before the first mission. With such a public statement being made by Manifold it does put into question how long Brand will be able use S.W.O.R.D for her own goals before getting caught.
X-Men: Red #2 was also a strong debut for the Brotherhood of Arakko that Storm is leading. The way that they took on the Progenitors showed that they are the people’s champions. They are not looking to police anyone. Rather they are there to protect when threats like the Progenitors appear. How Storm and Magneto evolve Brotherhood of Arakko will be very interesting to see.
Making things even more interesting on the Brotherhood of Arakko side was the mystery around Fisher King. Here we see that the people of Morrowlands called him “Unarmed King.” This was a big eye brow raising moment as your questions about who the Fisher King are exactly the how Sunspot reacted when hearing the name “Unarmed King.” What this means for the direction of X-Men: Red is unknown but certainly adds another sub-plot to keep an eye on.
The only thing that did not work from the story itself was how Cable was unceremoniously taken out. While it did show how powerful Progenitors were the way it came off was that it was a throwaway death. That is one of the negatives about having a plot device like Krakoa’s resurrection protocols that really robs all impact about a character death. Cable was just another random body that fell in battle as you don’t really feel anything when it comes to him being charred to a crisp.
Stefano Caselli delivered a great-looking comic book with X-Men: Red #2. By far what X-Men: Red #2 will be remembered for is the Storm vs Vulcan “fight.” I put fight in quotes because it wasn’t so much a fight as a reminder to not mess with Storm, something Vulcan hopefully now knows. Caselli knocked it out of the park with this scene as you see how Storm’s authority comes through not only in her dialogue but how she handles Vulcan. The artwork really got the idea of how when two Omega Mutants fight it does become a battle of wills and this time Storm was far above Vulcan in this.
There are a lot of contenders for best series in the X-Men franchise right now. Now with X-Men: Red #2 Al Ewing and Stefano Caselli may have run away with that title right now. This comic book grabs your attention from the very first page and does not let go until you finish the story. There are so many compelling narratives around Planet Arakko that will keep you coming back to read X-Men: Red every month.
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10