With a first page reveal of a political prisoner, X-Men Red #2 wastes no time! Can it continue the momentum from the head-splattering first issue? Is it good?
Jean Grey’s actions from X-Men Red #1 have once again whipped up global anti-mutant protests — tiki torches and all! Good thing a certain technological powerhouse nation has a soft spot for the Children of the Atom, and grants the team asylum.
It seems like the perfect place for Trinary, a technopath making her first published appearance as a captive of the shadowy Lakshay Singh, who knows how she hacked the bank accounts of the richest people in India and wants to utilize those abilities. She’ll need Jean Grey’s help to escape, but Jean might actually need Trinary more.
So it’s time for a hoodie-covered smash and grab! Nightcrawler’s teleporting is good for extricating targets from secure facilities, and Jean’s telepathy can handle the mob outside — for the most part. Why are some people immune? Could it be the work of the revealed villain from the first issue?
X-Men Red #2 is a much slower paced book than the debut issue, to its detriment. Red #1 was kind of amazing in that it was mostly talking, yet the strength of the narrative kept the reader hooked. It also helped that artist Mahmud Asrar is dynamite at depicting what action scenes there were.
He doesn’t get as much to work with here, though his panel layouts during the “jailbreak” are creative and emotive. So we’re left with a lot of static shots, which are not Asrar’s forte. His faces still look kind of lumpy and unfinished. Colorist Ive Svorcina seems to have taken a step down, too. Everything is a bit more drab, where brights once popped against darker backgrounds.
Writer Tom Taylor’s story doesn’t seem to have the sense of urgency or grandiosity that #1 had, either. It’s relatively well-told, with neat bits like how Jean was able to manipulate Singh’s thoughts, but the stakes aren’t as high when rescuing a heretofore unknown character. We’ve been told what she does, but have yet to see it, making her, in this issue, a MacGuffin the use of which is unclear. We do get a nice introduction of Nezhno, in a Chekhov’s gun sort of way, and it only makes sense that they’d stumble on him in his home country.
If you’ve seen interviews with Tom Taylor about X-Men Red, you know that he has big ideas for the series. It’s almost meant to be the Champions of the X-verse, where Jean and company combat the real problems, in ways that can’t be accomplished through punching alone. The debut issue of the series was a strong realization of that concept, but #2 falls far short, with less emphasis on the big picture and more of a traditional superhero rescue mission. It’s made worse by not yet having a reason to care about Trinary, the focus of the whole issue, and not knowing how she’ll fit into Jean’s grand design.