We go back to the moments right after Jean Grey was resurrected, and we see what her life was like immediately after the impromptu revival. She bonds with the X-Men, learns of their triumphs and losses, and she seeks out the extended family she's never met.
X-Men Red Annual #1 does for the series what the first few didn't admittedly do: it lets us know who the new Jean Grey is. Sure, it's technically the "old" Jean Grey, but the character has clearly changed — death will do that to a person.
This issue shows what's different now and her thought processes behind her actions. She is still a caring person who works to form connections with people, but she knows when to back off and let things be.
It's a great dive into this character, it acknowledges some recent events in the X-Men side of the Marvel Universe, and it's generally quite engaging. It also provides a backdrop for some of the teammate decisions Jean made for X-Men Red.
Overall, this was a smart way to handle the Annual. It's weird that this series already has an Annual issue, but it justifies itself by expanding on the lead while not interrupting or interfering with the ongoing story.
Pascal Alixe's artwork is gorgeous. It's a highly detailed photorealistic style that looks almost painted. This allows for a world that feels real and breathing. There are moments where it dips a toe in the uncanny valley territory, but those are few. Whenever a superpower is being exhibited, it looks great. Chris Sotomayor's color art adds to the beauty by using an organic and balanced color palette, and it supports the photorealistic appearance.
X-Men Red Annual #1 is a compelling and enjoyable refresher on the character of Jean Grey, who she was, and who she may yet become. She's a great solo lead, the art is incredible, and the comic earns a strong recommendation. Give it a read.