The Fall of X has seen a new era for mutantkind, and it hasn’t been pretty. Mutants are scattered around the galaxy, the X-Men have been wiped off the map, and the Quiet Council has fallen apart. On Arakko, the stakes are no better. In fact, Storm has found herself in an even more perilous position in X-Men Red #15. As the Genesis War rages on, creators Al Ewing, Y?ld?ray ??nar, Federico Blee, and Ariana Maher are teaming up to raise the stakes beyond compare.
It’s hard to deny that X-Men Red #15 tells an epic story. After falling off somewhat with the end of the Abigail Brand arc, the book has worked its way back up to an intense conflict that has left Storm on her back foot. As she desperately tries to rally her troops, several newcomers to the X-Men line take center stage.
First and foremost is the Fisher King, who finally gets some in-depth development in this issue. While his involvement with the Night Seats of the Great Ring hinted at an epic history, Ewing finally reveals it here. It’s nice to see the Fisher King finally get the development he deserves. His complicated past makes him a more sympathetic figure, which is desperately needed. Many of the Arakki still feel like half-baked figures. If the Fisher King can catch on, he can become a much more lasting figure than figures like Lycaon Two Wolves.
Storm may not have the biggest role, but it was about time for X-Men Red to really delve into its supporting cast. The Fisher King has been a quiet but important figure since Magneto first met him in X-Men Red #1. It’s good to finally see how the character came to be, and it weaves in the antagonists brilliantly.
Even X of Swords never truly succeeds in making Apocalypse’s horsemen as terrifying as they are here. With Genesis at their side, they feel like an unbeatable force and a threat worth taking seriously.
The paneling in X-Men Red #15 is especially interesting. There are some points early on that seem to hint that the Fisher King’s mind is scattered long before the reveal of Xilo’s messages at the end of the issue. It’s a fun note that really helps to make the art feel in tune with the story.
Additionally, this issue is worth the money. While collecting comics is an expensive hobby, X-Men Red #15 is far from just a popcorn book. It demands a slow read even for those who may ordinarily prefer to skim, which helps to make it worth the price. The extra-long data page helps ensure that pace — though the font continues to be a struggle to slog through.
One major issue holding back X-Men Red #15 is its inability to center the story around its biggest draw. Storm continues to offer little to the story, outside of occasional feats that immediately backfire. Yes, the entire message of X-Men Red is about letting the Arakki lead their own destinies, but that doesn’t mean that Storm can’t play a role in her story.
With so many Krakoans trapped on Arakko, it is bizarre how little they play a role in this series. Outside of a single appearance by Peeper, there is absolutely nothing to look for. X-Men Red seems content to fully separate from the overarching story of Fall of X, which is bizarre in an event that is drawing in every single X-book. The only true insight into the reality of life for Krakoans on Arakko is through Woofer in X-Men. It’s a serious disappointment in an era so dedicated to synergy.
Still, that is not to say that X-Men Red does not continue to excite. Ewing and ??nar expertly weave a complex story with numerous twists and turns. Every major character feels compelling and has a role to play in the overall narrative. Every feat is exceptionally creative. Every twist, well-plotted. In developing the Genesis War, the book is doing an excellent job of also developing a new IP for Marvel Comics that could very well have a part to play for years to come. There is no reason not to pick up X-Men Red when it accomplishes so much with so little space.
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