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Review: X-Men: Red #5

X-Men: Red #5 showcases one of the new team’s more successful diplomatic rescue missions, as the intrigue surrounding Cassandra Nova’s nanite Sentinels continues. World Leaders around the globe as well unwitting humans are shown as targets in this issue, turned against their will into mutant hating drones attacking mutants both with legislation and mob violence. In a previous article I noted how X-Men: Red  presents a timely social commentary into some of the challenges we are facing. Writer Tom Taylor has clearly drawn some inspiration from the current racial divisions abjectly stoked by data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica.

We see another example of the talking-head, pundit-style news cycle in this issue addressing the mutant crisis. What I enjoyed the most of this was how this segment plainly showcased the use of bias, tunnel vision, word framing as well as dropped contexts. It’s unclear if the one-sidedness showcased by one of the reporters is due to his own prejudices or if he has become victim to Cassandra Nova’s Sentinites as well. This blurring line is definitely an unsettling one, and perhaps an intended theme of the story. This title’s emphasis on the promulgation of half truths, and the targeting of those with bias made me think about memes, and how their spread shapes culture. In this way, there’s an interesting parallel between both the targeted propaganda, and the function of the Sentinite, both are seemingly ephemeral, small but work towards a devastating and violent critical mass. 

It still remains to be seen what Cassandra Nova’s endgame is but her arrival presents the perfect foil to Jean Grey and by extension her mission. I have always understood Cassandra Nova, as a corrupter, a wraithlike entity who functions much like her chosen methods of attack in this series, behind the scenes and by dredging up the darkness is hidden within the best of us.   The overarching parallel of the parasite that encapsulates Cassandra, misinformation and her nano -Sentinels cannot be overlooked.

It is very nice to see Namor step up to the plate in this issue. The Anti-Mutant sentiment stoked by Nova’s machinations have caused a refugee exodus of Poland’s mutants, the X-Men go to assist on the shores of the Baltic sea, where Namor arrives prepared with equipment to ferry the mutants to new Mutant Nation Searebro. There’s a poignant moment where Namor flexes his diplomatic muscle, reminding assailing soldiers that if they want to keep using their current trade routes via the sea, they must allow the mutants to leave peacefully. The ensuing refugee crisis is quite symbolic.  Not too long ago it was the Atlanteans who were scattered across the globe and found refuge at the X-Men’s mutant national Utopia at the time.  I really respect that Namor has not forgotten his allies nor his heritage.  The change in circumstance  is definitely special and speaks to the X-Men strengths.  Where Cassandra’s power lies in division, a hallmark of the X-Men has always been creating friends from foes, and bridging divisions. We see this with Jean’s empathetic explanation to the human who was previously infected with the Sentinite as well as Jean’s vow to fight by weaponizing the truth. This team really shines with its humanitarian ethos, something I feel has been missing from the X-Men for some time. This title is quickly becoming a favorite in my pull list.

Some Final Thoughts

Jean Grey wants to fight with the truth, however, history may not be so kind in this regard. Namor’s recent run in with the Phoenix and his assault on Wakanda could stand to delegitimize his position and by extension the clemency he has given to the Fledgling mutant Nation.  The truth cuts both ways and it would be interesting to see how the team addresses this if it becomes a spoiler in future issues.

Going back to the theme of Cassandra’s corruption we have seen her undermine multiple mutant allies, Forge is the unwitting architect of the nano-sentinels in In X-Men Red Annual 1  we see a subplot involving Cassandra’s  weaponizing Rachel psychically. This raises questions about the exploits of the Gold team, (who are fighting a similar nano-sentinel threat) as well as Rachel’s recent powerups and inability to read Lydia Nance’s mind. It will be very interesting to see how this subplot pans out and if any of the nanite technology  is related across both X-Men titles.

Seeing Trinary with the team’s pet sentinel gave me goosebumps and I couldn’t pin down why until I had a mental flashback to Avengers Arena (The  Arcade’s hunger games themed murder fest of young heroes) Apex (the murderous technopath bears a striking similarity to Trinary, and it would be devastatingly delicious plot twist if there was some connection between the two, or if Cassandra made her an unwitting pawn as well

Story: Tom Taylor Art: Mahmud Asrar
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation Buy!

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review