Reflections on X-Men Red 3 and 4

The original New Mutants cocreated by Chris Claremont and Bob McLeod introduced a group of mutants who were teenagers from different cultures and areas of the world. One of them is Roberto DaCosta codenamed Sunspot. Roberto is a dark-skinned Afro-Brazilian whose father worked his way up to be a powerful man and his mother, a white archeologist. In the first twelve issues readers saw how Roberto copes with his powers and family dynamic. As Sunspot his mutant ability is activated by absorbing solar energy. His powers, as with what generally happens with mutants his age is that it manifested through trauma. An aspiring soccer player Roberto was bullied by racists and his powers came about on the field of play. Since his creation in 1982, Sunspot has been part of X-Force, The Hellfire Club and has died on a few occasions. Recently, he has been featured in ‘X-Men Red’ where he’s been attempting to navigate his new life on Arrakko, the newly terraformed Mars.

Yes, both mutants and those called the Arrakki share this new colony making for new enemies and loads of good storytelling. Magneto mourns his favorite daughter Wanda who has given the gift of chosen resurrection. But he also speaks about his daughter Anya who died before her mutant gene kicked in. The context in which he discusses these heartbreaking moments at the loss of his children makes the reader understand why he’s an omega level mutant. Not only in action as we see near the end of issue 3 in ‘X-Men Red’ but in memory. When Magneto speaks,he takes us back to a life before his battles with Xavier. This is done with amazing artwork. Each panel shows subtle tears, a lowering of the head, a closeup of Magneto’s mouth.  It also pulls everything from Roberto’s comic-book history. Those new to the recent storylines in the X-books may not be aware of all the connections. There’s a moment where Storm, Magneto, an Arakki and Roberto are discussing a power play where Magneto is best suited to perform. After Magneto does an impassioned monologue about how tired he is, Roberto calls him headmaster. The cutting look he gives Roberto leaves him unfazed. Later on,Magneto does what Roberto expects. The thing about the exchange is that it says so much about the complex history of the X-Men. This is a family where it doesn’t matter through retroactive continuity or ongoing relationships Roberto will sacrifice himself, Magneto will do what’s best, Storm will always be a royal badass and they’ll always unite for the greater good of mutants. 

As always Marvel Comics draws on its retcon and long history such as Xavier’s daughter Xandra, a product of his relationship with Lilandra of the Shiar empire. The resurrection hive consisting of Hope Summers. Through a convoluted family tree,she is raised by Cable, Nathan Summers, the son of Scott (Cyclops) and Madeline Pryor, who when he was a baby was jettisoned into an apocalyptic future. Ironically, Nathan was raised by the consciousness of Scott and Jean Grey. Yes, it’s a lot but somehow it all comes together and is logical when you look at what makes a family. Somehow ‘X-Men Red’ does all this seamlessly.

About Donna-Lyn Washington 634 Articles
Donna-lyn Washington has a M.A. in English from Brooklyn College. She is currently teaching at Kingsborough Community College where her love of comics and pop culture play key parts in helping her students move forward in their academic careers. As a senior writer for ReviewFix she has been able to explore a variety of worlds through comics, film and television and has met some interesting writers and artists along the way. Donna-lyn does a weekly podcast reviewing indie comics and has also contributed entries to the 'Encyclopedia of Black Comics,’ the academic anthology ‘Critical Insights: Frank Yerby’ and is the editor for the upcoming book, ‘Conversations With: John Jennings.’

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