“To opposzze her will mean war. Czzivil War on Arakko. What do we do…?”
“We go to war.”
X-Men: Red #14, titled “We March to War” by Al Ewing, Yildiray Çinar, Federico Blee, and Ariana Maher is the first issue of this book in the “Fall of X” era, and MAN… these guys have the JUICE.
First of all, hats off to Ewing for making his runs on the Krakoa era overall work so nicely, even with the amount of events and status quos they had to tie into. From S.W.O.R.D. tying into “King in Black”, the Hellfire Gala, and “The Last Annihilation”, to X-Men Red tying into “A.X.E. Judgement Day” and now this, it’s genuinely incredible how all of these feel natural, like they were planned and integrated into the narrative rather than being forced into it – on top of being Marvel’s best books in general.
We pick up not just after the Gala, but also right after the events of X-Men: Red #13, where Genesis managed to take over the Great Ring, forcing Ororo and others to flee before the Annihilation Staff could influence them too.
Within the sense of the line-wide narrative, I love how well the Arakko takeover is built into X-Men: Red. It’s built over the course of #12, #13, as well as Before the Fall: Heralds of Apocalypse, the same way that Orchis is in the other X-Books. Things were going too smoothly, and there was bound to be a reckoning. In that same fashion, I love that to maintain some sense of cohesion, and to show that there is thought put into it rather than mindless fighting, there’s more components to the war, the fight for survival – there’s the propaganda, the history, the way it affects societies, and the fact that these things take time and don’t happen overnight.
Over the past few issues, X-Men: Red has used its data pages to tell “The New History of Arakko”, essentially “chapter breaks” to quickly summarize what’s happened between a short time jump, of which this issue has two. However, that’s not the only place where it’s used. The neutral narrator is also part of the New History, spoken in past tense, not only to continue adding all this in, but also to get the reader familiarized. That way you’re not going to be suddenly off-put by the data page.
Within the narrative of the issue itself, Ewing manages to use every page and bleed every last drop out of it, pushing not only the “plot”, but also setting up good moments and character beats through it all. The story opens with two two-page spreads to catch us up on Genesis’ doings and what members of the Great Ring are doing, before cutting to the Red Lagoon, where our heroes retreated last issue. It’s here we get a great character beat between Lodus and Kobak, before cutting to that all important conversation the book obviously needed, a reaction to the gala, which we get through Roberto, while also setting up a small plot thread.
After this, the issue cuts to war, and that’s where Richard Rider gets to shine. He’s been a part of this book for a while, and as Ewing’s favourite, it makes sense that he’d be in the cosmic X-Book, but he did not have a proper opportunity to really show his wings until this issue. Here, he goes all out as the leader of the resistance force on Arakko, going back to his roots as a war general, and it’s awesome to see. There’s also that budding friendship with Roberto that’s been building up through the book, and they finally share their rendition of Richard talking about how it’s all up to him. It’s obviously not a primary focus within the story, but I love that their interactions since they met have built up to this.
Within the action, there’s also small worldbuilding segments that add upon the data pages preceding them. Those pages aren’t just words for the sake of it- they’re important to the narrative, and we see that right here very well. They earn their keep.
Çinar’s art is also so good. It’s lovely to see Roberto drawn well and with the right features, as well as curly hair rather than the straight hair that he’s been drawn with in this title many times. Everyone else looks fantastic too, and I’m big on Çinar using speed lines in the background to really emphasize motion. Some great panel composition throughout, all three two-page spreads here are amazing, especially when Ororo gets her big moment. Blee colours their skin tones right too, and I hope this remains consistent as the book goes on.
Another A+ issue. “Fall of X” continues shaping up to be amazing.