Writer Al Ewing’s enjoyable X-Men Red comic book series concluded with issue 18 as Storm and Genesis finally faced each other to determine the fate of Arakko and the Marvel Comic Book Universe as a whole.
With a majority of mutants trying to handle Orchis in the current books, X-Med Red continued to focus on the Genesis War occurring on Arakko. Ororo knew what Orchis had done. But she couldn’t lead an attack against them until she had dealt with Genesis. Frankly, Ororo should have tried to defeat Genesis earlier. However, I understand plot conveniences and the X-Office wanting to drag the Orchis storyline until it’s time for the “soft reboot” that’s supposed to happen next year. It will give the X-Men franchise a new status quo in 2024. Apparently, the X-Men are headed back to the iconic mansion on Earth and I don’t know how I feel about that right now.
Anyway, back to talking about what transpired in X-Men Red issue 18.
The previous chapter had Apocalypse contact Ororo because he needed her magic to bring Kaorak to life. For some unexplained reason, Apocalypse wanted Kaorak and Genesis’s island to fight each other during the current war. I get it was supposed to be life vs life, but still, why make the islands fight each other when the actual victory was supposed to be decided by Storm fighting Genesis?
What could have been an exciting Kaiju-esque battle ended up being pushed to the background in issue 18. There was no strategy involved. The two islands were simply shown throwing a punch or two at each other in a couple of panels with Apocalypse telling the other members of the magic circle that they needed to remain in position to keep Kaorak alive instead of going to help Storm.
Even artistically, I felt that the visuals didn’t deliver when it came to showcasing the grandiosity the islands were supposed to possess. The shockwaves alone should have been felt across half the planet.
The fight between the two armies also lacked impact, in my opinion. We got a handful of panels depicting who was facing off with whom. I liked how Sunspot was able to mess with Ora Seratta. And then the Fisher King/Xilo came in to seal the deal to preserve the history and the law of the land. But still, I wanted more action during the fight sequences. Everything happened a bit too quickly.
I mean, it’s a freaking war between superpowered beings and yet there’s no double-page spread of the two armies clashing. I can only imagine the amazing visuals certain mangaka would have delivered while handling such a major moment.
We did get way too many panels between Jon Ironfire and the White Sword/Blue though. Their encounter was supposed to hold emotional weight, but it didn’t work for me because I don’t care about Jon Ironfire like that. Also, the two didn’t even kiss after Jon decided to spare Blue’s life. So, meh!
The lack of action has been an issue when it comes to X-Men Red. There have been instances of certain characters doing something amazing. But it’s all felt too rushed. The focus has been the narrative. And while I enjoy a good story, I do feel that superhero comics need to strike the right balance between text on the page and action-heavy visuals.
Even the fight between Storm and Genesis was lackluster and was restricted to Ororo being used as Lightning Lass. Narratively, readers could tell that the real battle was going to be between Storm and the Annihilation Staff. And when the moment came for them to face each other, Ewing did a great job as he showcased a (more or less) pleading Annihilation Staff as it tried to make Storm accept its offer of more power and make others bend to her will.
However, again, the entire moment wasn’t visualized with Ororo being stuck in a weird psychic plane while time stood still in the real world. Nopes. The interaction between Ororo and the Annihilation Staff was all done via simple white text on a black background.
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy Ewing’s writing style. He knows how to dive deep and explore characters that have been around for decades. However, when reading Ewing’s work in X-Men Red, I have to always tell myself to take it as if I were reading a novel because if looked at from solely a comic book perspective, Ewing’s storytelling skills come across as slow and (in some instances) boring. And that’s not great when the current comic book release strategy is one issue per month.
Again, I can’t help but think of how a major battle would have been handled by certain mangaka. We could have had epic action-heavy panels along with much-needed emotional moments across the cast of characters.
Talking more about the fight that occurred between Storm and Genesis, it was clear that Ororo was more of a match against any vines Genesis sent at her. This meant that Genesis had to resort to using the microbiome inside Storm to attack the Weather Goddess from the inside. While I liked seeing Genesis use her trump card, I was disappointed about X-Men Red not allowing Ororo to go all out like that.
Again, the narrative has been about showcasing Storm’s stance when it comes to life, mercy, and power. So, while Ororo didn’t tap into her Godhead to counter Genesis, she did get another feat involving her indomitable willpower when she refused Annihilation Staff and proceeded to melt it.
In the end, Ororo managed to free countless mutants from the Annihilation Staff’s influence. She had given everyone a new lease on life. Due to Storm not believing in thrones and not wanting to be worshipped as a Goddess, she left it to the various Arakki territories to find the meaning of peace for themselves.
Will Storm continue to keep an eye on Arakko with the soft reboot coming up? At this point, the fandom is unsure about Arakko being allowed to exist down the line. There’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding the X-Men franchise in 2024 and certain fans are understandably worried when it comes to how their favorite characters will be treated.
In some good news at least, with X-Men Red concluding after a respectable run of 18 issues, Ewing will continue writing Storm for a while longer. His upcoming 4-issue miniseries Resurrection of Magneto is looking at a January 2024 release. I have seen the preview of the first issue and I’m excited to see what Ewing has planned.
What did you think of X-Men Red issue 18? Did it feel rushed to you?
Let us know.
Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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