Comic Review – X-Men: Red #1

It would be fair to say that I’ve never been the biggest fan of X-Men comics in general. I like the basic concept enough – superpowers as a metaphor for whatever oppressed minority group one might wish to champion as trying to make the world a better place while being hated and feared by the same people they’re trying to help. Unfortunately, that most universal of comic book concepts has frequently been forgotten by writers who became lost in the minutia of continuity. This made the X-Men books one of the hardest series for a new reader to get into for the longest time.

Thankfully, X-Men: Red #1 is both everything an X-Men comic should be and nothing like what most X-Men comics have been for the better part of the last three decades. If you’ve never picked up an X-Men book before or haven’t seen any of the X-Men movies, you’ll be able to grasp what it is about immediately from the opening sequence, in which a team of mutant heroes move to save a child from a lynch mob.

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The rest of the issue focuses upon team leader – telepathic and telekinetic mutant Jean Grey – and her realization that she needs to do something more than just save lives and stop bank robberies in order to build a better world. What follows is a tremendous study of Jean’s character as well as a smooth explanation on the current status of mutants in the Marvel Universe.

Writer Tom Taylor manages this exposition with surprising efficiency. Many comic writers go into full-on professor lecture-mode when attempting to develop their world. Taylor avoids this with a generous amount of humor sprinkled among his factoids, tricking the reader into learning even as they are laughing. This is par for the course for Taylor, whose work on All-New Wolverine has turned that series into one of Marvel Comics’ most underrated treasures. And yes – he’s the one responsible for creating a tween girl clone of Wolverine called The Honey Badger. If that doesn’t make you smile a little bit, you might want to skip this book, though there is plenty of high drama and action to go along with the comedy.

Artist Mahmud Asra does a fantastic job capturing the essence of Taylor’s scripts. The action sequences are well-blocked and the characters all have distinctive designs with practical costumes – no improbable high-heels for the ladies on this team! There are a few minor glitches here and there – a scene where the perspective seems somewhat off or a panel where a character’s stress lines are so thick they look more like wrinkles. Thankfully, these moments are few and far between and the colors by Ive Svorcina are nice and vivid.

Bottom Line; If you’ve been avoiding X-Men for fear of it being too much work to get into, X-Men: Red #1 is your perfect entry point into one of Marvel Comics’ most epic legacies.


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

Comic Review – Rogue & Gambit #1

She was a runaway who nearly killed her first sweetheart with a kiss.

He was abandoned as a baby for his black and red eyes.

She fell in with a group of mutant terrorists who offered her the closest thing to a loving home she’d ever had.

He was raised by the Thieves Guild of New Orleans and was a member in good standing until a duel forced him into exile.

She draws the energy out of people.

He sends energy out of himself.

Both outlaws. Both mutants. They were trouble enough alone but being together made things less troublesome.  Well, most of the time…

Anna Marie a.k.a. Rogue is content to leave the past in the past. Her focus is on the future now that she’s leading an Avengers team. That, the state of Mutantkind and the recent redevelopment of her inability to control her powers when she touches people has put more than enough on her plate without Remy “Gambit” LeBeau coming back into her life wanting to rekindle their romance.

Okay. Technically he -said- he just wanted to get dinner. But it never wound up being just dinner with them. The point is that Rogue wants to eliminate all the complications from her life and there’s no way to describe the relationship between her and Remy without the phrase “It’s Complicated.”

Unfortunately, Rogue’s building a simpler life for herself will have to wait. When the X-Men learn of mutants disappearing around a private “couples only” retreat that is offering a special therapy to free mutants of their trauma, they need an actual couple with relationship issues to go in deep cover and investigate. Guess which pair of surly Southerners get assigned to the job?

Most of what this critic knows about Rogue and Gambit came from watching the 1990’s X-Men cartoon. Miraculously, given how intensive the continuity around the X-Men is in the comics, this turned out to be more than I needed to enjoy Rogue & Gambit #1.

The focus of this issue is strictly upon their characters and there’s no references to anything in outside titles, apart from Rogue’s membership in The Avengers. Casual comics readers who haven’t been keeping up on recent events in the Marvel Universe can pick-up Rogue & Gambit #1 worry-free.

Kelly Thompson’s script does a solid job of portraying both characters, though the story is largely told from Rogue’s point-of-view. Her reasoning for being wary of Gambit is plainly laid out but Gambit’s reasons for approaching Rogue about figuring out where they stand now are less clear. The engaging humor and interplay between the two proves engaging and makes up for this issue’s lack of action, apart from the opening training sequence in The Danger Room.

The artwork is all-around fantastic. Pere Perez’s style is crisp and clear, with the story flowing smoothly from panel to panel and the camera angles constantly changing so there’s a strong sense of visual interest even in the simple scenes of two characters sitting in an office and talking to one another. The colors by Frank D’Armata are brilliantly vivid, though some purists may be disappointed that Gambit has traded his trademark hot pink body armor for a more muted purple. Most X-Fans – and indeed most comic readers – should find this book an enjoyable read regardless.


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.