Marvel Comics has long posited itself as “the world outside your window,” a commitment to telling superhero tales that remain relevant and grounded in the contextual socio-political zeitgeist. The House of Ideas has wavered on actually committing to this ideal, with some books completely avoiding anything having to do with the political climate while other books merely graze the surface. X-Men Red, on the other hand, is a series that has not once shied away from steeping itself in the incredibly divisive and toxic social and political climate we now find ourselves in here in America. While previous issues of X-Men Red have been a little too over the top with their attempts to provide commentary on the current cultural landscape of America, X-Men Red #10 is a much more nuanced issue that speaks to issues broader than the simple divisive times we live in.
X-Men Red has been a series interlaced with obvious themes of bigotry vs. acceptance throughout, with varying efficacy across each issue. This is still very much at play in issue #10, but rather than questionably asserting that hate should drive out hate (like issue #8), X-Men Red #10 preaches a message that is far more aligned with the core values of the X-Men: using teamwork, calm logic, and thoughtful tactics to drive out hatred and bigotry peacefully.
This results in an issue with far less action than most of the series, but the underlying story at play and the means in which Jean Grey mounts a final assault against the unrelenting bigotry is so captivating and recognizable most readers won’t even notice the lack of action. This issue gracefully touches on so many issues that pervade our society — from the spread of misinformation, the danger of deep fakes, and how weaponized fanaticism against a particular group can spread like wildfire. While I have certainly been critical of past issues of X-Men Red being to on the nose with its commentary on real world problems, #10 has me eating my words. Writer Tom Taylor poignantly places the current state of our society into a new lens that clearly illustrates just how wild a time we live in.
X-Men Red #10 also sets the series up for what may be the climactic finale next issue, with Jean’s X-Men finally taking on Cassandra Nova once and for all with the help of the Avengers, possibly setting up Uncanny X-Men and (hopefully) explaining how Namor went from X-Man/hero to warlord king hellbent on destroying the dry-world in Avengers. While Marvel hasn’t outright confirmed X-Men Red will conclude with issue #11 next month, rumors have been swirling around for quite sometime that the series will wrap up to allow Uncanny X-Men to stand as the lone X-book.
If that’s the case, Tom Taylor set up one helluva finale with an all-star superhero cast. That being said, this fight has been a long time coming, and the fact that readers are once again left waiting another month for Nova and Jean to duke it out is still a bit frustrating, despite how good this issue is as a whole.
Artists Roge Antonio takes over art duties for this issue and does a fine job. Antonio wonderfully captures facial expressions and body language to express emotion, elevating the impacty of nearly every scene. There are, however, inconsistencies in details that can be frustrating — some panels that aren’t tightly zoomed in on a specific character are completely lacking in detail, leaving some panels to feel unpolished and unfinished.
While Antonio does a good job with this issue, X-Men Red as a whole has suffered from what seems to be an ever-revolving door of artists. This is in no way a problem exclusive to this series — it’s a problem that plagues the entirety of Marvel comics. So many books have constantly changing artists that make it impossible for books to keep visual consistency which disrupts the reading experience. It’s a shame that X-Men Red has played victim to this widespread problem.
X-Men Red #10 will be remembered as one of the best of the whole series. The issue lives up to the “world outside your window” ideology that Marvel loves to push in a way that is both poignant and thought provoking. Whatever the future of this series is, it’s been a helluva ride that is set up for an incredible 11th issue by #10.