Jean Grey has a clear idea of what the X-Men should represent. Getting their will not be very easy as the first two issues of X-Men: Red have shown. Cassandra Nova being the first major threat that Jean’s X-Men team have to overcome has so far been a good one. Tom Taylor has returned Cassandra Nova to being a deadly villain that is not easily knocked out. While they are still without an official homebase how Jean’s X-Men overcome Cassandra Nova’s obstacles is going to be very interesting to see. Let’s find how the X-Men answer their current obstacle with X-Men: Red #3.
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Mahmud Asrar
Colorist: Ive Svorcina
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Cassandra Nova enters the Xavier Institute and walks past Kitty Pryde and Colossus without being noticed. A young mutant named Kyle recognizes Cassandra. Cassandra kills Kyle and then enters one of the X-Men’s room and orders them to go to Wakanda.
At the Headquarters of the Mutant Defence Force in India, Jean Grey, Wolverine (Laura Kinney), Honey Badger and Nightcrawler fight a Sentinel attacking the city. Honey Badger saves Trinary from getting hit by one of the Sentinels laser. Seeing all the destruction and Honey Badger’s injury Trinary uses her powers to ground the Sentinel.
Trinary reveals to the X-Men that she is able to recode the Sentinel and removed its killer intent.
Nightcrawler wonders why there are still three protesters that Jean wasn’t able to knock unconscious. Trinary says it is because they have a program running in their heads that is similar to the Sentinels.
The police start nearing the area, forcing the X-Men to leave the area or else be arrested.
Trinary uses her powers to reprogram the Sentinel to fly the X-Men away. While flying back to Wakanda, Trinary reveals her father turned her into the Mutant Defence Force. Jean tells Trinary no one should face that type of rejection from anyone. Trinary question Jean on if she still believes in the vision that she spoke about at the UN. Jean says she does and that just have to overcome some hurdles.
Trinary shows the X-Men the current anti-mutant propaganda that has been filling social media in order to stoke fear and anger within people.
In Louisiana a mutant named Cara with bird-like powers is confronted by a mob. As they are about to kill her Gambit arrives in time to save her from the mob. Gambit is able to use his powers to disperse the large mob.
One of the remaining members of the mob that stayed behind fires a gun. Gambit throws a card at him but is too late to stop the gun from firing. The gunshot ends up hitting and killing Cara. Gambit apologizes to Cara’s friend who was trying to protect her before Gambit arrived.
Elsewhere, as the X-Men near Wakanda they notice that a lightning storm is starting for form. Storm suddenly appears out of the clouds and says “Protect Wakanda. Abominations.” Storm then strikes the Sentinel the X-Men are riding on with lightning. End of issue.
The Good: Tom Taylor juggled multiple events going on simultaneously so precisely that he was able to enhance the greater narrative he is crafting for this series. Everything in X-Men: Red continues to be connected by the vision of hope that Jean Grey established in the first issue of this series. But as we continue to see in X-Men: Red #3, things won’t be getting easier for Jean Grey’s team with Cassandra Nova around.
Though she has had plenty of appearances to flesh out her character Cassandra Nova isn’t an X-Men villain that has been run down our throats. It’s something that does stick with the nature of the character that Cassandra Nova wouldn’t make her presence known often. That makes her appearance in this first arc for X-Men: Red even more significant as she is openly attacking the X-Men. The effortless way she sneaks into the Xavier Mansion quickly established how she operates. That along with the way she did not hesitate to kill a young mutant showed that she will never hesitate to kill those who she feels are in her way, no matter their age.
Making Cassandra Nova’s actions even better is the fact that she is just one of the obstacles the X-Men are up against in this arc. From the Mutant Defense Force to anti-mutant mobs there are a lot of things that Jean’s X-Men are up against. The anti-mutant mob in particular showed just how much the X-Men are up against in trying to be accepted as people by the public. Gambit’s failure in saving Cara also gave us a realistic outcome of what happens if the X-Men can’t find a way to unite everyone. Because for all of their power even someone as experienced as Gambit can’t save innocent mutants from a large contingent of the anti-mutant sector.
Taylor does a good job in establishing how all of this is building into his larger narrative of the X-Men’s long road to being accepted. It is a story that has been a part of the X-Men since their inception but something we haven’t seen them try since House of M. Since that event the X-Men have been much more about survival. Having a brand new character in Trinary involve helps further how Jean is bringing a different attitude to the X-Men’s approach when they recruited mutants the last few years. And while Trinary’s tech based powers aren’t unique her backstory does make her a character that the reader wants to see Jean guide to be a positive force for the world.
Storm’s appearance at the end was a good cliffhanger ending that circle backs to the beginning of X-Men: Red #3. Storm being chosen by Cassandra Nova as the X-Men who attacks Jean’s team was a well thought out one. With Storm’s previous connection with Black Panther, Taylor can do a lot in further putting more walls that Jean’s X-Men will have to go up against. The lightning strike was an effective way of hinting at this and may leave Jean’s X-Men without a home again.
Mahmud Asrar delivered solid artwork throughout X-Men: Red #3. With this issue having some big set pieces involving the Sentinels Asrar was able to stretch his action muscles. He did his best job on the action department in showing the power of Storm at the end of the issue as the lightning strike took out the Sentinel the X-Men were riding on. Asrar also did a good job in making the death of Cara have a slow-motion feel to it as Gambit was too late to save her from the gunshot.
The Bad: One thing that X-Men: Red #3 brings up is the fact that while Jean’s X-Men are in the middle of dealing with all the anti-mutant hysteria the Xavier Mansion squad are doing nothing. Cassandra Nova’s visit to the X-Mansion highlighted this fact which makes you question why they characters like Kitty Pryde, Storm and Beast aren’t actively rallying the X-Men to save mutants around the world.
With angry mobs showing up all over the place to possibly kill innocent mutants this is the exact time the Gold and Blue X-Men squads should be acting. There is no explanation given why they aren’t doing anything which makes them look worse since we do see Kitty and Colossus having a petty argument and the other X-Men soundly sleeping like nothing is going on in the world.
Overall: X-Men: Red #3 was another solid entry in Tom Taylor’s young series. Taylor continues to do a good job presenting Cassandra Nova as a villain that is easy to hate. Her actions make what Jean Grey’s X-Men are up against even bigger as there are constant walls being placed in front of them. How the X-Men overcome everything they are up against will be very interesting since now they have their own allies against them now thanks to Nova’s actions.