If you’ve been waiting for the issue of X-MEN RED where Jean Grey and Cassandra Nova finally go head-to-head in a battle for the ages, you might be a little disappointed this week. X-MEN RED #7 is a solid issue, full of action and fantastic dialogue, but Nova is nowhere to be seen. Writer Tom Taylor and artists Carmen Carnero and Rain Beredo are giving readers a slow burn, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. Want to know why? Keep reading to find out!

Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Attacks on All Sides

In X-MEN RED #6, Nova started her attack on Atlantis, using a confused young mutant as her weapon. In X-MEN RED #7, we see the effects of the attack on Namor’s city. Luckily, X-Men member Gentle can now show off his incredible strength, since Jean lifted his mental blocks in the previous issue.

With the Atlantis problem under control, the other half of the Red team faces calamity in the air. X-23, Honey Badger, Gambit, and Trinary are trying to steal the phone of the UN ambassador Nova killed. The phone will be able to prove Jean’s innocence, allowing the Red team to come out of hiding. The team infiltrates the plane carrying the late ambassador’s belongings, but one of the passengers randomly attacks them. Their escape plan is tenuous but successful, and they all make it to land safely. The last part of the issue sees Trinary broadcasting Jean’s statement regarding Nova to every screen in the world.

How to Make Peace in X-MEN RED #7

The entire X-MEN RED series is a guide on how to promote peace and acceptance over hate. A lot of readers have noted how relevant the series is to the present political climate, which is something numerous X-Men series have done in the past. Most of this issue is action, which is great. X-MEN RED is a comic book after all, and we expect a certain amount of action. However, with a series like X-MEN RED, we also expect a certain amount of realism. Taylor gives us that bit of reality in the last few pages of the issue, where Jean addresses the rising level of mutant hatred directly.

Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Just as Jean and her team can visibly see the rising level of hatred in the Marvel universe, so can we in our universe. Like me, you probably don’t always think about it or acknowledge it when you see it, but it’s there. Is X-MEN RED making radical steps that will change the future of the United States? Of course not. It isn’t trying to. The political agenda Taylor is pushing is simple: be mindful. Understand that hating other people is a common part of society and try to actively not participate. It may not change things on a global scale, but it could change the things that are happening right in front of you.

 Heard But Not Seen

Taylor’s decision to not include Nova in this issue is an interesting choice. Just from looking at the preview, I assumed we would get to see Nova in some capacity since the bulk of the issue is about her attack on the Red team. I thought we might even get to see a fight between her and Jean.

At first, I was a little disappointed and confused. The problems on the plane and the near destruction of Atlantis were products of Nova’s plan. Shouldn’t we see her, in the classic villain stereotype, cackling in front of a creepy fireplace somewhere? While I definitely think Taylor needs to speed things along with Nova, I also don’t mind the slow burn tactic. The plot building is taking a while, but with every issue, the anticipation mounts higher, and I become more invested. I don’t want this conflict with Nova to last forever — particularly because I want to see the Red team face some other villains. Still, for the time being, I’m willing to ride this one out to the end.

Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Action Prevails

This issue contains a ton of action, which can sometimes make for some lackluster art. Action sequences are difficult to draw and can make for some pretty unnatural proportions and positions. However, penciller Carmen Carnero keeps up with all of Taylor’s action-packed demands, from the airplane crash to the panel where the tower of Atlantis nearly topples over. X-MEN RED #7 proves that Carnero has what it takes to illustrate one of the most popular current X-titles. Let’s just hope she stays on for a while.

Colorist Rain Beredo uses some fairly simple palettes, which isn’t necessarily a negative thing. Carnero draws some complicated scenes that don’t need a fancy array of colors to look good. I’m still not the biggest fan of Jean’s Day-Glo orange hair, but that’s honestly a personal bias.

Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Final Thoughts

X-MEN RED #7 might disappoint you. I thought it was another good (but not necessarily great) addition to the series. I don’t mind Nova not appearing in this issue. However, if you’re tired of Taylor teasing the eventual battle between Jean and Nova, you won’t like this issue, and that’s okay. If X-MEN RED can teach us anything, it’s not to get caught up in the little stuff. If for no other reason, I’d encourage you to pick up a copy of X-MEN RED #7 for Jean’s speech at the end. It isn’t monumental, but it might make you take a step back and think about things for a moment or two. If it does, I think it succeeded in at least one way.

X-MEN RED #7 by Tom Taylor, Carmen Carnero, and Rain Beredo
X-MEN RED #7 keeps readers chasing the conflict between the Red team and Cassandra Nova. Not a whole lot comes to fruition, but Taylor's teasing game is successful: we're already excited for X-MEN RED #8. Combined with Carnero's beautiful linework, Taylor's empowering dialogue makes this issue another solid addition to a series that is stunning readers.
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