WARNING: This article contains spoilers for X-Men Red #1 by Tom Taylor and Mahmud Asrar, in stores now.
For a while now, Marvel fans have known that the adult Jean Grey was coming back to life, and for real this time — no more teases or false starts. Having been missing from the core cast of X-Men for a decade and a half, the character came back from the grave in the pages of writer Matt Rosenberg’s Phoenix Resurrection just a few short weeks ago. But while Resurrection was concerned with how Jean returned, it largely ignored the why. For five issues, we saw the circumstances that would shepherd Jean back to the land of the living, but we never really got to see what her return meant for the X-Men, for herself, or for the world as a whole.
Instead, the fallout from Jean’s return is being explored in her new headlining series, X-Men Red by Tom Taylor and Mahmud Asrar. The first issue of the series hit only two weeks after the conclusion of Phoenix Resurrection, and the difference between the two titles is night and day. X-Men Red is much quieter than Resurrection, its cast is much smaller, and its exploration is more introspective. Jean Grey has only been back as an X-Man for a single issue, but it’s clear that her return is no accident. Already, we can tell that Jean Grey is becoming something else; she is becoming a voice, a beacon for change in our socially-conscious times.
Ever since their first appearance in 1963, the X-Men have been advocates for a better world. Charles Xavier’s dream was for mutants and humans to co-exist peacefully. It’s a mission that they have strived for, to this very day. The comics were always a metaphor for the current state of society, whatever that state may be at any given moment, promoting a message of inclusion and acceptance in a world filled with hate and prejudice. Yet here we are more than 65 years later, and the more things change, the more they stay the same. Racial tensions are at an all-time high, fear and bigotry are running rampant, and some groups are more concerned with conserving their way of life than to move forward, evolve and change for the better.
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