After dealing with the threat of a new batch of Sentinels, Jean Grey and her nascent team were on their way to Wakanda when they were faced with their greatest threat yet: One of Jean’s best friends! Your Major Spoilers review of X-Men Red #4 awaits!
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Mahmud Asrar
Colorist: Rain Beredo
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Editor: Mark Paniccia & Jordan D. White
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: May 16, 2018
Previously in X-Men Red: A sudden wave of anti-mutant hatred has overtaken the world, and in an attempt to address it, Jean Grey has been falsely blamed for the murder of an ambassador who confronted her. With help from Namor (who has provided her and her team with political asylum in Atlantis), she has begun work on building a mutant homeland, even picking up a new technopath named Trinary on the way. Sadly, her woes are the work of Professor Xavier’s evil twin Cassandra Nova, who has created special nanites that drive people to destroy mutants… even if they ARE mutants themselves.
“OUR NEW MUTANT NATION STARTS HERE…”
Confronted with the power of Storm, Jean’s team and their pet Sentinel are blown from the skies by a lightning blast, but it’s all a ploy by Jean. While her team makes their way into Wakanda, she confronts Storm one-on-one, overpowering the former X-Men leader and knocking her to the ground. When Storm tries to use her powers to destroy her own “mutant menace”, a young Wakandan mutant called Gentle gets involved and saves her from herself. A mind-melded combination of Jean, Trinary and Black Panther’s powers removes a strange nanite probe from Storm’s head, and the X-Men Red team is finally assembled: Jean, Nightcrawler, Trinary, Wolverine, Honey Badger, Gentle, Storm and Namor himself, all ready to put in the work to make human/mutant relations better. Unfortunately for her, Cassandra is also working toward a similar end, by placing her nanite control thingamas in the minds of leaders around the world…
CASSANDRA NOVA IS JUST PLAIN EVIL
X-Men Red #4’s Cassandra Nova sequences are disturbing as hell, especially when she forces the prime minister of an unnamed country to murder one of his advisors under the belief that he is a secret mutant, while Cassandra smiles her terrible, smug smile. This issue actually manages to focus in on the personalities of the characters while creating a world-wide crisis red alert situation, giving us insight into Jean (as well as a “Hell, YEAH!” moment when she confronts Storm directly in mid-air), her team members, and Cassandra without ever entirely blunting the villain’s menace. The moment where Honey Badger and Wolverine give Namor his new X-Men costume and entreat him to “put on some damn clothes” is amusing as well, and showcases Asrar’s art. I really enjoy his take on Prince Namor, and the sequence where see Gentle in action is pretty stunning. The tight focus does make for more than one moment of “Oh, right, he’s in this too” during the issue, though, and there’s a cameo by Forge that makes me wonder exactly what happened to him (which opens the question of the other 800 X-folks out there.)
BOTTOM LINE: A STRONG ISSUE, BUT WITH SOME FOIBLES
After a comparatively slow burn for three issues, this one suddenly accelerates things and gives us more explanation of what Cassandra is up to, and pulls in the remaining team members perhaps a little too quickly for my tastes. Still, X-Men Red #4 is a good read, with some excellent moments for several characters (with a couple of other spending too much time on the sidelines) and well-done art throughout, earning 3.5 out of 5 stars overall. There are a couple of moments that fall flat, and I sincerely hope that Cassandra is taken out of the picture quickly rather than being a permanent antagonist for the Red team, but overall this is good comics.