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X-Men: Red #1 brings back a powerful villain and a terrible pun

Hey, Namor, what’s up?

Namor the Sub-Mariner in X-Men: Red #1, Marvel Comics, 2018.
This picture of Namor is largely unrelated.
Tom Taylor, Mahmud Asrar/Marvel Comics
Susana Polo is an entertainment editor at Polygon, specializing in pop culture and genre fare, with a primary expertise in comic books. Previously, she founded The Mary Sue.

Jean Grey just came back to life, and she’s got a plan to create a new mutant nation and heal the whole world. Unfortunately for Jean, writer Tom Taylor and artist Mahmud Asrar have set her lofty goals up against one of the X-Men’s most formidable foes.

[Warning: This post contains spoilers for X-Men: Red #1.]

Last week, Marvel Comics (or, at least, the creative team of Matthew Rosenberg, Leinil Francis Yu, Joe Bennett) resurrected Jean Grey, the founding member of the X-Men, after nearly fifteen years of absence from Marvel stories. And after so long on the bench, Jean is wasting no time getting started. X-Men: Red #1, out this week, kicks of her adventures at the head of her very own team of X-Men — and her very own Cerebro.

But Jean’s Cerebro isn’t in the X-Mansion. I’ll explain: Her goals take her on a global search for “the greatest thinkers on Earth.” One mass psychic link with all of them later, and she has a plan to declare a new nation of mutants, and a plan for who she’ll need on her team. There’s Nightcrawler, the Wakandan mutant Gentle, the new mutant character of Trinary and, of course, Wolverine and Honey Badger. That is, Laura Kinney and her younger sister/clone Gabby from Tom Taylor’s All-New Wolverine. But rounding out the group is Namor, the Sub-Mariner, King of Atlantis — the only world leader who is also a mutant.

While the situation is not fully explained, we get some hints in the issue that Jean’s team is using Atlantis as a base of operations, when, in classic X-Men fashion, they rescue a young mutant whose powers have just surfaced and bring them to safety. They’ve arrived in a dry, but clearly undersea location.

“Where am I?” the kid asks.

Jean answers: “You’re in Searebro.”

Get it? Cerebro? Sea-rebro?

Anyway, there’s also a big villain

A big plan to save mutant-kind wouldn’t be worth its salt if a big deal villain wasn’t standing in its way, and Taylor and Asrar have prepped a perfect foil for Jean’s new team: Cassandra Nova.

Cassandra was created in 2001 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly for their run on New X-Men, so prepare yourself for a wild origin story. She is an evil astral entity that formed an early connection with Charles Xavier by growing a physical form based on his DNA within his mother’s womb. Even in utero, Charles’ nascent psychic abilities allowed him to sense her, and he succeeded in killing her physical form, making it appear as if she was simply his stillborn twin.

X-Men villain Cassandra Nova, appearing in X-Men: Red #1, Marvel Comics 2018.
“They say you can’t control what’s in a person’s head...”
Tom Taylor, Mahmud Asrar/Marvel Comics

Decades later, she was able to secretly take over Professor X’s body, and, posing as him, wrecked quite a lot of havok, including using an army of Sentinels to kill 16 million mutants in Genosha. She was eventually stopped before she could use Cerebro to kill every mutant on Earth.

Every bit as psychically powerful as Professor Xavier, and with a few extra astral powers of her own, Cassandra Nova is one of the few X-Men villains who present a real and a perfect foe for a world class telepath like Jean Grey — which makes her a very good antagonist for X-Men: Red.

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