Cassandra Nova is out for blood. From framing Jean Grey for murder to the launch of deadly sentinites, Nova has been on an unstoppable path of mutant destruction. Thankfully though, X-MEN RED #8 changes the notorious X-Men villain’s trajectory as Jean Grey and company take a stand.
X-MEN RED has been one of the best X-Men titles running in Marvel Comics right now. Some may argue it is in fact the best ongoing title period. The series has successfully managed to make the conflicts taking place within the narrative feel authentic, as though they are happening in our own world because they kind of are.
As a result, X-MEN RED #8, in addition to the series as a whole, showcases what the X-Men have always been about: standing in the face of hate and making a difference.
State of Mind
For the most part, X-MEN RED #8 is one tense, extended stand-off between Cassandra Nova and the X-Men. After the events of the last issue, the world is now aware that Cassandra Nova was the one responsible for the assassination Jean Grey was initially framed for. However, people still continue to rally against mutants. Additionally, Nova mobilizes her plan to unleash a swarm of sentinites upon the world with the intention of killing mutants.
So, to combat Nova’s mission, Jean Grey has Trinary locate the sentinites. However, Trinary cannot locate and destroy them on her own. So, Jean decides to interlink minds with Trinary and use Gabby, aka Honey Badger, as a mental conduit, since her mind can take on the force of the sentinites due to her mutant abilities.
Unexpectedly, Cassandra Nova connects with Jean, interrupting the link and sentinite takedown. Suddenly, Storm pulls Trinary out of the link to save her. Gabby then becomes overwhelmed by the chaos of all that is taking place within her mind and falls unconscious. Desperate to help and concerned for Gabby’s wellbeing, Laura Kinney takes Gabby’s place as Storm tracks Nova’s location in Genosha.
In an undoubtedly epic moment, Storm attacks Nova, breaking her mental intrusion of Jean and the X-Men. Nightcrawler, Gentle, and Gambit join Jean’s link as Trinary returns to the link, locates, and powerfully destroys the sentinites.
As of that moment, the fight appears to be victorious. Unfortunately though, and unknown to the X-Men, the conclusion of the issue reveals that Nova has taken control of Rachel Summer’s mind.
Thus, the fight is far from over.
The War Has Only Just Begun
Tom Taylor brings some amazing work to X-MEN RED #8. He incorporates a fantastic pace into the narrative, one that slowly builds the tension of the confrontation between Cassandra and X-Men. Though the stand-off between the two sides is relatively brief, it is still an exhilarating one. It is unpredictable and traverses each and every action and reaction of each side. As a result, the action of X-MEN RED #8 is unique as most of it takes place within mental states and as impulses.
Jean truly shines in this issue as a leader. I particularly enjoy the way Taylor depicts her as a caring and confident one. She genuinely knows the younger X-Men, exemplified in her interactions with Honey Badger and Trinary. As a result, this characterization of Jean Grey broadens facets of her persona that may not have always been depicted.
Also, seeing Trinary take down the sentinites by displacing hate throughout cyberspace onto the sentinites themselves was an awesome sequence. X-MEN RED once again takes on the real world in a positive manner, and that makes the series all the more epic.
The Many Hues of X-MEN RED #8
X-MEN RED #8 is abundant with memorable images from Carmen Carnero. My personal favorite from this issue is the sequence in which Storm casts down a storm onto Cassandra Nova. It is a powerful image that perfectly exemplifies Storm’s prowess. It is also an intimidating shot that shows that even the good guys can be feared.
Also, colorist Rain Beredo does a fantastic job throughout this issue. There is a wonderful juxtaposition between vibrant and dull tones that almost symbolizes the glimmers of hope the X-Men try to instill in a grim and cruel world. I never thought of this series as being an inherently dark one. So, I appreciate Beredo’s concentration on maintaining a balance between light and dark images so that the work as a whole does not totally fall into gloom.
Finally, the cover art from Jenny Frison is magnificent. To put it all simply, the cover is a gorgeous depiction of X-23 that maintains impeccable realism.
So, overall, the artwork of X-MEN RED #8 is absolutely impressive and worth looking at over and over again.
What Lies Beyond
X-MEN RED #8 is an impressive work. Its narrative is an intense psychological thriller that reaches its climax in a powerful manner, and its artwork is simply spectacular.
This series continues to be one of Marvel’s strongest right now, and this issue proves exactly why. Its characters are meticulously developed, and the narrative always feels relevant.
As a result, we witness a story that we not only easily engage with, but one that we should all be paying attention to.