Comic Book Review: X-Men: Red #8
As I said last month, I haven’t felt this uplifted by an X-Men story in a long time, and that is a true crime. The fight for peace in the mutant world doesn’t always come down to who swings harder. It can also mean finding ways to step up to bat without instigating the same actions returned in kind. Jean’s message last month was moving, and it was brilliant as far as redefining what it means to lead a team of mutants. She did not back down from her ideals that she could weaponize the truth.
It made a big difference to see how Cassandra Nova would respond to being outed to the public the way she was last week. The public may not know her face or her name entirely, but they knew enough to understand that there has been foul play involved in actions against mutantkind. What she did next was what you would expect when a villain like her is backed into a corner. It was extreme, and yet at the same time the kind of move needed to truly propel this story forward towards a climax. While I despise Nova because of the kind of villain she has been to the mutants (Genosha), I do admire the lengths she can go to that others can not. There is no denying the danger of a villain who can get into your head. Plenty of the more powerful heroes are telepaths, but Nova is one of the few who can go to bat because she is on the level of Xavier. When her motivations were re-established, there was nothing but taking her twisted methods as they were.
I found it very cool how this version of Jean Grey has evolved from who she used to be. The old Jean Grey would be afraid of her power, she wouldn’t be this cunning because of that fear, and she wouldn’t know how to have made the big calls that she could now. It was her use of cerebro and the way she applied the abilities of others on the team that really grabs your attention. Some leaders would have become quite questionable at this stage, but again not once did she forget the kind of war she was trying to fight.
I should say that the entirety of this team didn’t once let you down in their ability to fascinate when their moments came to shine. Throughout these eight issue, Tom Taylor hasn’t given us once a reason to question the roster for this team, or even the creation of a mutant like Trinary. I would say Trinary specifically deserves her due this issue. The minute she began expressing the struggles of her life, and the hate she has experienced around the world? Moved does not do justice to the power that went into the writing of her place amongst the mutant population. Jean had her big moments, but so did the rest of them. I love how they each rose to the occasion and showed how much this fight meant to them as well. Particularly when most on this team do have a reason to have a problem with Cassandra Nova. The self-sacrifice, the power unleashed from a certain sky goddess, I was utterly blown away by what I wish the other X-Men teams are lacking on their end.
The artwork for this issue is what made this climax the full package. The action was intense, the emotions were raw, and the atmosphere was hopeful. Carmen Carnero and Rain Beredo went above and beyond this month and left you with nothing but appreciate for the quality of work that went into every page. I loved how heartwarming Jean was drawn, how twisted every expression of Cassandra Nova came off as, and the heroic poise of everyone else. The actions of Storm and Trinary stood out most. It’s not every day that an artist will be given the room to go all out with Storm, and this opportunity was not wasted on bit. A combination of a tidal wave, heavily clouded skies, and thunder storm? No words could ever capture that moment, but the visual did. Rain Beredo nailed the organic color pallet that has never failed to hit the mark. Then we have Trinary who had the most stunning page spread displaying her powers on full blast. Her eyes, the reach shown through the way the panels were split, all of it projected who she is at the core.
X-Men: Red #8 was an issue I honestly had to read twice. Not because there was anything I missed or misunderstood, but because this was such a brilliant climax to everything this series has been built towards so far. Their objectives mattered, their sacrifice, their bravery, and their trust in each other to do what it took without crossing a line. This could only be matched with the right villain to push all the right buttons. Cassandra continued to be one of the most despicable villains in the X-Books till the very end.