That is the question on everyone’s mind as Destiny of X turns the attention to Planet Arakko in X-Men Red #1. The new galactic Capital of the Sol System and the fledgling Planet that’s making waves with plenty of power players involved. We have some of the best and brightest Mutants of Krakoa and even from the SWORD Station One, making Arakko their place of business. Storm, Magneto, Sunspot, Abigail Brand, and more are all using the Planet and its new status for their own motivations and development. In a word, every character is using the new landscape to change and grow.
X-Men Red #1 is the spiritual successor to S.W.O.R.D., and Al Ewing and Stefano Caselli provide ground zero for what this new playground can be for these old and new characters, and it’s a start for a corner of the X-Men comics that will be sure to keep all parties interested. Since “resurrecting” Mars and claiming it for their own, Mutantkind has been on the uptick, but there’s work to be done. Arakko has been given a fresh start, and we’ve gotten glimpses of how the Great Ring (Their equivalent to the Quiet Council) works and the type of decisions they have to make. Our lead for this plot is Storm, who is coming into her with her new status. Caselli throws us into a do-or-die battle with our Regent, and it’s an artistic display of why she’s the voice of the Sol System.
He’s always been an artist who handles characters’ expressions and even action-heavy scenes. It’s focused paneling and movements that are easy to follow that round out the opening battle for Storm’s right to join Arakko in X-Men Red #1. The lettering from Ariana Maher provides several small touches to her inner struggle as the issue progresses beyond her fight with Nameless. The Shape-Shifter Queen. Her speech bubbles are more chaotic and outlined with red, even her dialogue. Her words haunt Storm well after the battle because there is indeed a cost to this new standard of living they have set for themselves.
Like he did with S.W.O.R.D., Ewing is taking advantage of uncharted territories and fleshing out playgrounds for Mutants in X-Men Red #1. Fresh off his departure seen in Immortal X-Men, Magneto arrives on Mars looking for a fresh start. It’s scenes like Mags speaking to a local that speaks to a larger theme of the boo; he takes a pause and changes his temperament after being threatened, and the two have a conversation that establishes Magneto’s feelings and current state of mind, his reasonings, all in a three-by-three gridded page that Caselli pencils and Federico Blee’s colors come together to create something extraordinary once he finishes maneuvering.
One of Ewing’s favorite characters (and mine!) to write is another character that’s taking advantage of the new Planet in X-Men Red #1, finding themselves in it and opportunity. Sunspot is trying to bring disco to Arrako! That’s not his only goal in mind, but Ewing provides his natural witty nature against some reminiscing at The Red Lagoon, where Caselli can show off his science fiction chops by drawing plenty of aliens and some grim onlookers. We even get a classic fight in the bar sequence with a character that’ll no doubt be a plot point on his own, if future covers are anything to go by. There are a lot of fires beginning to rise on this new Planet with a lot of character dynamics in conflict with one another. We even get some unexpected pushback from a character that’s a recent return and will no doubt be exploring their troubles elsewhere. That’s part of the fun of a title like X-Men Red; we’re furthering the fertile ground of a brand new location in the Marvel Space, which allows the current era of X-Men comics to explore characters that find themselves at odds in this new era.
In the aftermath of the bar fight, Ewing begins some of his wheels-within-wheels as our previous protagonist, Abigail Brand, steps onto the scene. Never without an agenda, and with a second in command that has his own personal battles in the wake of a fight, Ewing is making the fight for Arakko slowly countdown on multiple fronts. Ever since the reveal back in S.W.O.R.D #6, Storm has been the Omega to watch. The heart of this story is Storm, and hers alone as she navigates this landscape, both politically and inherently. She has plenty of people beside her telling her how things should go, what she should do, and what Arakko needs, and Ewing guides her character through it all towards a great moment that Caselli illustrates Storm in all her power. Another great aspect of a book set on Arakko is the various locations that Caselli and Blee’s colors render. From the grasslands, to a club, to even a S.W.O.R.D Station, each location is given the appropriate space and it’s on feel as characters discuss politics and agendas.
X-Men Red #1 ends with a proclamation, an exciting one that sets the tone for the cast we’ve followed throughout the oversized first issue. With Ewing slipping back into the Marvel Cosmic side of things like a trust-worthy glove, Caselli providing art that can accentuate any dialogue or scene that Ewing provides, Blee and Maher’s coloring and lettering giving Arakko and its people their own personality and distinction from Krakoa X-Men Red is a refreshing continuation and expansion of a Planet that has only been seen in bursts since its inception. Giving characters that are there to heal, plot, and change all the tools for an extraordinary X-Book.