X-Men: Red is a series that has been slowly picking up momentum. During that ride Tom Taylor has been able to develop X-Men: Red as the best team book in the franchise. Taylor has thus far done a good job creating a strong X-Men team with Jean Grey at the center of it all. The conflict with Cassandra Nova has also brought along the opportunity to bring the X-Men villain back into a prominent role. Now with all that has gone on in these last nine issues it is time for Taylor to wrap up this latest Cassandra Nova saga. Let’s find out how things get wrapped with X-Men: Red #9.
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Roge Antonio
Colorist: Rain Beredo
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: At the Xavier Institute Kitty Pryde reaches out to Jean Grey to let her know that Rachel Grey is gone. Jean quickly identifies that Cassandra Nova took her and tells Kitty she will get Rachel back.
Nightcrawler offers to come but Jean says that she has to get Rachel back alone even though she knows how much Rachel means to Nightcrawler.
While she walks to get ready Jean runs into Gabby. Gabby mentions Jean is acting stoic like Laura usually does. Gabby admits she may not know what Jean is going to but has experience with a telepathic alien queen, much to Jean’s surprise.
Storm is the next to stop Jean. Storm tells Jean to not hide anything and offers to help in any way she can. Jean tells Storm to head just outside Genosha to be there to retrieve Rachel when she frees Rachel from Cassandra’s control. Jean and Storm hug and Jean admits to missing Storm.
Over in Genosha Cassandra Nova senses Jean nearby and releases Rachel from her chains. Rachel and Jean start fighting with Rachel getting the upper hand early.
Back at the X-Men base Gentle finds out that Trinary, with Laura and Gabby’s help, are working to address the false mutant narratives that has been run online. Gentle asks Trinary to allow him to help and show that they can trust him.
As Gentle and Trinary talk Gabby asks her sister to break up the tension. Laura tells Gentle to get some courage and ask Trinary out already, much to Trinary’s surprise.
Back in Genosha Jean and Rachel continue their battle with Cassandra Nova looking on. Jean is able to overpower Rachel and is able to physically reach her. Cassandra sees this and decides to discard Rachel. Jean tells Cassandra to stop and offers to surrender in exchange for Rachel’s life.
Cassandra agrees and frees Rachel from her collar. Finally back to herself Rachel apologizes for what happened. Jean says she understands and tells Rachel to leave. Rachel wants to stay.
Cassandra mocks Rachel about listening to her mom. Hearing that pisses Rachel off and she hits Cassandra with powerful psychic punch. Right as Cassandra is about to counterattack Jean reminds Cassandra of their deal.
Jean tells Rachel that Storm is waiting for her and to trust what she is doing. Rachel agrees and takes off.
Now alone Jean asks Cassandra if she has ever felt like she was missing something by not caring about anyone but herself. Jean offers to talk to Cassandra about what is going on.
Cassandra does not believe what she just heard and just tells Jean goodbye. Cassandra then proceeds to obliterate Jean’s body with her powers.
As Cassandra walks away from the carnage Jean suddenly shows back up, much to Cassandra’s surprise. Jean reveals that she was never physically in Genosha. Cassandra is shocked to learn Jean is stronger than before.
Jean remarks that Cassandra’s mistake was seeing empathy as a weakness when it is what makes them dangerous. Cassandra proclaims she is not afraid of the X-Men. Jean tells Cassandra she is afraid of what the X-Men represent and that they have what she lacks.
Cassandra states that she will raise an army to fight and crush Jean’s dream. Jean says she is not afraid to die for others or for what she believes in. She then asks Cassandra if she is willing to do the same.
Back at the X-Men’s base Jean takes of Cerebro. She tells Nightcrawler and Gambit that they must contact Atlantis and prepare for a war. End of issue.
The Good: X-Men: Red #9 resolved its major arc in the only way it could, with a final showdown between Jean Grey and Cassandra Nova. Both characters have been the stars of this series thus far so it was only appropriate for them to be featured in the final battle. While an entertaining end the focus of X-Men: Red #9 highlighted the biggest problem with this long term arc.
With how we know Cassandra Nova normally operates by taking over people’s minds it was great to see Jean Grey identify this. Not only does it explain why Jean is the only one to confront Cassandra but it keeps the story focused so that no outside force interferes. Taylor does a very good job having Jean give quick, effective reasons to Nightcrawler, Gabby and Storm as to why she is going out on her own. This gave a better flow to the opening scenes in X-Men: Red #9.
At the same time this scene showed how empathetic, a theme that comes into play later, is with her team. We see this specifically with Nightcrawler and Storm. With Nightcrawler we get to see how Jean has matured as she knows that it is not her place to interfere with Nightcrawler and Rachel Grey’s relationship. The way she handled this made the reason why she didn’t bring Nightcrawler along make more sense as he would be the ultimate liability in this situation.
The scene with Storm was a good change to see a different part of Jean’s current state of mind. Taylor does a good job using the dialogue to show the close friendship that Jean and Storm have. Storm not being afraid to call Jean out on how she is being reckless is something only she could get away with. What made this scene better was that Taylor kept the dialogue to a minimum, making the words spoken much more effective.
That all led to a great, albeit short, battle between Jean and Rachel Grey. As two of the most powerful telepaths in the Marvel Universe Taylor brought out how brutal of a fight this would be. Though we don’t get to see the fight last long it does hint at what would happen if these two ever came to actual blows.
Not having the fight last long was actually a good thing as Jean ended the fight in a way that showed the confidence in her abilities. That confidence made the big reveal after Cassandra Nova thought she obliterated Jean even better. Taylor did a fantastic job having Jean pull a Luke from Last Jedi trick to display how powerful she is. Though she no longer wields the Phoenix Force, Jean is still an omega-level mutant. That is something that could easily be forgotten and I’m glad Taylor used this final battle with Cassandra Nova to re-establish that fact in the reader’s mind.
The way things ended with Cassandra Nova was also the best way to establish the conviction that Jean has in her vision for the X-Men and mutants. Having gone through so much in her life, including death and resurrections, has made Jean much stronger. She knows things won’t be easy but won’t be deterred from making things better. In showing that determination Taylor sets Jean to be the leader the team needs just in time for Uncanny X-Men’s reboot.
Given all the build up I’m glad that Cassandra Nova wasn’t taken out. With how Marvel is currently in the process of giving the X-Men a renewed push the franchise need strong antagonists. That is a role that Cassandra Nova can fill and this story arc showed how dangerous she can be. And after suffering such a humiliating defeat Taylor has given Cassandra Nova even greater motivation to get revenge on Jean Grey and the X-Men.
The artwork by Roge Antonio got the job done in X-Men: Red #9. With the action being quick Antonio was able to get across how powerful both Jean and Rachel Grey are. At the same time he made Cassandra Nova’s show of power when she thought she obliterated Jean. The way Antonio drew all of this made the reveal of Jean’s Last Jedi trick land in the way Taylor intended it to.
The Bad: As well done as the battle between Jean Grey and Cassandra Nova was done X-Men: Red #9 did very little to get behind the actual team of this book. Everyone on this X-Men team took a backseat to Jean, which has largely been the case throughout the course of this series. For the most part, no one was really needed since Jean took care of everything. That includes Storm since we don’t see her reunite with Rachel after Jean saves her to show the role she played.
The whole scene with X-23, Gabby and Trinary working to fight trolls online did not help make the rest of the X-Men feel important. Instead it just highlighted the fact that the X-Men were just supporting characters there to talk when Taylor wanted to right other characters not named Jean. It did not help that we don’t learn what exactly they are doing to help the situation online. All that we are told is they are fighting online trolls, something we all know does not work at all.
The Trinary and Gentle attraction subplot does not add any interest to either character. These two are such new characters that there has not been enough time to develop them as individual character. The lack of development time hurt the reveal that Gentle is attracted to Trinary since there wasn’t any build up to this. It made it harder to connect to this moment that had zero history to it.
Overall: X-Men: Red #9 was a solid ending to battle with Cassandra Nova. Tom Taylor did a great job using this story arc to build Jean Grey back up as one of most powerful superheroes and the leader the X-Men need. But as Jean was the star of the show it was a shame that the rest of the X-Men took a backseat in the finale of this big story arc. If it wasn’t for the small role everyone but Jean Grey played X-Men: Red #9 would’ve been a stronger end than it turned out to be.