X-Men Red #2
Written by: Tom Taylor
Art by: Mahmud Asrar and Ive Svorcina

X-Men Gold #23
Written by: Marc Guggenheim
Art by: Thony Silas and Arif Prianto
Published by: Marvel Comics

Reviewed by: Ryan McLelland

A few weeks back I was singing the praises of X-Men Gold while also voicing some minor disappointment with the newest X-title X-Men Red.  As Gold and Red each came out with a new issue this week I felt a bit of reversal in my feelings.  I thought Red really came out of the gate with this issue while Gold lagged back a bit in the race.

There’s a ton going on in Gold #23.  There’s a cosmic dude entering our universe in-between time and space.  There’s a call for X-Men to come in to be a replacement team.  Why a replacement team?  Because Kitty Pryde and her team got picked up for beating up a bunch of cops last issue and all got sent to prison.  So all the X-Men get thrown into The Box where all the cool superpowered baddies and mutant villains get locked up.

Do you think there’s going to be a fight?  Yup.  Of course there’s going to be a fight.  Because there are X-Men in prison everyone wants to be a badass and fight these legendary heroes.  Why not I guess?  What else ya got to do?  So everyone lines up to beat up The X-Men …like some badly written film that should star Scott Adkins (no offense to Scott Adkins here – you put him in ANYTHING and he will elevate the material.  I’m just saying.  He’s been in some bad beat-up-people-in-prison movies.).

It all just seemed forced.  Like maybe it sounded good six months ago at a writer’s retreat, but doesn’t turn out so great once Marc Guggenheim sits down to write the script.  “It’s the X-Men!  In prison!  And people want to beat them up!”

The huge redeeming quality of #23 is the replacement team which features Iceman, Rogue, and a couple of the classic New Mutant characters.  I don’t read the Iceman comic so I don’t know what is going on with the character but it seems that he’s been on the outs with the X-peeps for awhile.  He answers the call to arms and is happy to join Rogue, Armor, Ink, Magma, and Magik as the B-Squad.  They should have a color, right?  I mean all of these X-titles have a color these days…so I designate them X-Men Purple.

The great thing is X-Men Purple just don’t put on costumes and go fight mutant hysteria or whatever.  There are some great moments of this team trying to get used to each other which really doesn’t work out for them.  THIS is great.  It’s not just throw a bunch of mutants together and we all save babies or whatever (*see X-Men Red #1).  I really dug the X-Men Purple part of the book.  If it was all X-Men Gold fighting in prison I might have been bored to tears.  If Pornstache shows up I don’t know if I’ll laugh or cry.

As for X-Men Red #2, we find Jean Grey’s Red Team now hiding in Wakanda after Jean Grey assassinated a U.N. Ambassador.  Of course Jean really didn’t do it (they reveal who did in the first issue but as they aren’t mentioned in the second issue I won’t mention them either) but the news media and public are all ready to string her up as a murderer.

This is a great time for me to be visiting Wakanda.  I was never into the Black Panther comic book though I did dig some of the issues that Priest wrote a couple years back.  As such I never really got to learn about Wakanda until the Black Panther movie.  It’s fun to learn about some of the people who inhabit this world and why Wakanda is even cooler than I thought.

The book turns into a rescue mission when a captured mutant is able to send a message to Jean.  Not being one to stand around Jean and her Reds move out to try to free this mutant.  Things go as planned…and not as planned.  It was quite cool to see how this rescue mission came together.  I was pretty hyped reading this and was pretty sad when I suddenly got to the last page.  Bravo Tom Taylor, you did one hell of a job with the second issue.

Nightcrawler features in both books.  This shouldn’t bother me as Captain America was able to be in his own book and The Avengers.  Same with Iron Man.  Hulk.  Wolverine could be in his own book and a couple of X-titles while guest starring in every other issue of some other superhero book.  Maybe that stuff didn’t bother me as a kid because I was always like, “COOOOOOOOOOL!  WOLVERINE!”  But now I’m reading these books one after another and I have Nightcrawler in a prison in New York but also an ocean away chilling in Wakanda.  Very different locations.  Very not close to one another.  When read separately you don’t care, but reading Red and Gold back to back just made me kind of huff.  I understand that Tom might want Nightcrawler for his X-Title, but couldn’t he have shown up after he at least gets out of jail?  Yeah, this is a very stupid minor gripe but whatever.

Overall I still enjoyed both books, though one more than the other.  I still think both are better than Blue, which I’m still having a hard time getting into despite Cullen Bunn being on the title.  I can really recommend Red as it really got moving after the so-so first issue.  I’m going to keep the faith in Marc Guggenheim to deliver me some more Gold goodness – hopefully he gets away from some of this 1980’s cheesy Linda Blair prison flick he’s thrown the X-Men into.



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