X-Men Red 3 Offers a Portrait of Our Time

by Drew Baumgartner

X-Men Red 3

This article containers SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk.

…it occurred to me that instead of them just being heroes that everybody admired, what if I made other people fear and suspect and actually hate them because they were different? I loved that idea; it not only made them different, but it was a good metaphor for what was happening with the civil rights movement in the country at that time.

Stan Lee on creating the X-Men

That the mutants of the Marvel universe are reviled and oppressed has long made them an allegory for any number of minorities the world over, which in turn makes the X-Men an allegory for any number of civil rights activists. Much has been written about the MLK/Xavier and Malcolm X/Magneto parallels, but as the twentieth century churned on, those movements coalesced less and less around recognizable figureheads. These movements weren’t leaderless, by any means, but the leaders were no longer the household names they were in the early ’60s. X-Men comics responded in kind, broadening its cast and bringing in an array of perspectives to cover the more diffuse push for civil rights across the globe. This made the X-Men generalists in terms of their symbolic power — maybe they were drawing parallels to the gay rights movement, or apartheid, or even the holocaust. But that generalist nature may also have blunted any one of those parallels, limiting how specific any one of them can truly feel.

Or so I thought. I’d come to accept the X-Men as a broad comment on the nature of oppression and activism, but never turned to it for “ripped from the headlines” representations of discrete real-world events. Maybe I (and the rest of the world) wasn’t paying enough attention to real-world events to recognize them. Maybe those events weren’t being covered in the way they have been over the past few years. Whatever the case, I was completely bowled over by the unapologetic allegory for Charlottesville that Tom Taylor and Mahmud Asrar present in X-Men Red 3. Continue reading

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Pacing as Character in All-New Wolverine 33

By Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

I love the idea of popping into a character’s far-flung future. It’s a way of taking a character’s essence and teasing out the results of a life lived in that essence — the ultimate if-then statement. If you’re a violent loner, then you end up alone and wracked with guilt. It’s all effect, and the cause is understood to be part of the character’s DNA. All-New Wolverine 33 kicks off the “Old Woman Laura” story, and writer Tom Taylor and artist Ramon Rosanas show the result of Laura’s legacy of positivity and leadership. Even in a world that was rocked by Doom World Wars, there’s still joy, prosperity, sorority and productivity in Laura’s future. Continue reading

All-New Wolverine 32 finds Catharsis in Revenge

by Drew Baumgartner

All-New Wolverine 32

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

This issue opens with a heartbreaking flashback sequence chronicling the simultaneous loss of innocence for two young girls. One is Amber Griffen, whose father was killed at his first day on the job protecting a presidential candidate. The other is Laura Kinney, who was the assassin sent to kill that candidate (and anyone else within clawing distance). Years later, it’s easy to understand why these women would be enemies, but Tom Taylor and Djibril Morissette-Phan take care to demonstrate that Laura is every bit as victimized by these events as Amber, telling their stories in parallel to drive that point home.

Amber and Laura Continue reading

Scaling Back in X-Men Red 2

by Patrick Ehlers

This article containers SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk.

Last time we wrote about X-Men Red, Spencer and Ryan saw the series as somewhat foundational — asserting the attributes that makes an X-Men comic and X-Men comic. That means both the soapy sci-fi details of the characters’ pasts and the political commentary were turned up to 10. The scale for both was just huge — I mean, Jean addresses the United Nations and was framed for murdering the UK ambassador for crying out loud. X-Men Red 2 continues to engage in the same kind of character- and political-work, while scaling back to considerably more personal levels, and the result is almost intimate. Writer Tom Taylor and artist Mahmud Asrar have such a strong handle on these characters’ voices, the moments don’t need to be huge to make them impactful. Continue reading

The Perfect Team-Up in All-New Wolverine 31

by Patrick Ehlers

This article containers SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk.

While reading All-New Wolverine 31, I realized that I have been measuring Deadpool team-ups by how good of a foil the other character is for the Merc with the Mouth. I like Deadpool with Captain America because their differences are obvious and legion. I like Deadpool with Logan, because while they’re both immortal murder machines, Logan sees the tragedy in his existence, while Wade somehow twists that into comedy. I like Deadpool with Spider-Man because there’s a sort of one-ups-manship there: “you think that’s goofy, Pete? WATCH THIS.” All-New Wolverine 31 presents a new kind of pairing: Deadpool and a character who is excited to learn from his example. Gabby’s not a foil, but their relationship is basically perfect. Continue reading

X-Men Red 1: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Ryan Desaulniers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Spencer: What are the X-Men best known for? I’d honestly say that there’s two answers to this, because while thematically the X-Men are most often used to explore discrimination and social justice, in execution they’re just as well known for their unwieldy cast, soap opera dramatics, and byzantine continuity. I think what I like most about Tom Taylor and Mahmud Asrar’s debut issue of X-Men Red is how heavily it leans into that first aspect, while ignoring the latter almost entirely. There’s plenty of character within these pages, of course, but this is first-and-foremost a title with a mission and a message. Continue reading

All-New Wolverine 30: Discussion

by Michael DeLaney and Patrick Ehlers 

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Michael: Tom Taylor continues to write one of the best Wolverine books that is actually pretty un-Wolverine-ish. Wolveriney? Wolverinian? What I mean to say is that for a character who is best known for being a bloodthirsty stab machine, this Wolverine is almost the opposite. To be clear, Logan was/is much more than a barbaric beast. But in Laura Kinney, Tom Taylor has crafted a Wolverine who is wise, humble and (mostly) peaceful. Like Logan, Laura is full of guilt over the violent life that she was born into. But in All-New Wolverine 30, Laura takes that guilt and transforms it into repentance. Continue reading

Upping the Ante in All-New Wolverine 29

By Michael DeLaney

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

I think the best writers at DC or Marvel are those that incorporate the past — warts and all — while paving the way for the future. With secret origins, even secreter origins, clones, children and magical swords, Wolverine has a complicated and silly comic book history. Leave it to Tom Taylor to take on some of that silly and make it a strength. Continue reading

Smart Layouts Ratchet Up the Tension in All-New Wolverine 27

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

All-New Wolverine 27 is an issue that thrives off tension, and while much of that tension is simply inherent to the conflict writer Tom Taylor has created between Laura and Daken, artist Juann Cabal and color artist Nolan Woodard do a tremendous job channeling that tension into their work, creating layouts that feel taut and harrowing even if you don’t know the circumstances behind them. Continue reading

Clarity in the Mystery of All-New Wolverine 26

by Patrick Ehlers

This article containers SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk.

There are a couple mysteries at the heart of All-New Wolverine 26. What happened to Laura’s mother? What is currently happening to Daken? Those are kind of soft mysteries, where the reader can make some easy assumptions and figure out at least some version of the events. Daken is being experimented on the the mysterious Orphans of X? Yeah, okay, there’s probably a specific reason for that, but the mystery isn’t going to keep me up at night. Where writer Tom Taylor and artist Juan Cabal pull the rug out from under us is in questioning the realty of Daken’s experience all together. Continue reading