WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for X-Men Red #10 by Tom Taylor, Roge Antonio, and Rain Beredo, on sale now!
X-Men Red has been a series unafraid to wear its political message on its sleeve. Writer Tom Talyor has tackled topics like domestic terrorism, the 24 hour news cycle, the crumbling of diplomacy, misinformation broadcasting to the masses, and even doctored videos which can easily be outed as such, but are good enough to let people who share similar ideas hold on to the notion they are real. Even as a faction of comic book fans rally against the idea of politics in comics, X-Men: Red double downs on the fact that the medium has always featured political statements (like any art form), and instead of dancing around an issue, Taylor and Co. tackle it headlong.
In X-Men: Red #10, the information war Cassandra Nova has been waging against humanity (and, by proxy, Jean Grey's team) has finally come to a head. This means the X-Men decide to bring in the big guns, namely industrialist, playboy, billionaire Tony Stark, the man who has an answer for everything and is well versed at building weapons to combat just about anything. But it turns out sometimes a good defense is truly the best offense. Instead of coming up with some sort of physical opposition to Nova, Jean requests Stark to build a whole bunch of Magneto's classic helmets. And when we say a whole bunch, we mean enough for an army.
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Cassandra Nova isn't just one of the most dangerous villains in the X-Men Universe, she also possesses telepathic abilities on the same level as her brother, Charles Xavier, and Jean Grey. Magneto discovered early on he could block out Xavier's abilities with his spiffy helmet, so using the master of magnetism's greatest defense against Nova is a logical strategic step toward stopping her. After all, if everyone is protected from her powers, she's practically harmless.
Seeing characters like Namor, Storm and the Avengers don the iconic headgear is quite a spectacle, and goes to show how dangerous of a threat Nova truly is. Jean has been fighting all the misinformation and dirty deeds the villain has been using to see her twisted vision come to fruition throughout X-Men: Red, but now the mutant leader fully understand the reality of the situation, which is sometimes the truth just isn't enough. When there's no way to combat hate with love, one might have to resort to blocking out the malice and confront its source with steely resolve.
X-Men: Red's overt politics might rub some readers the wrong way, but if it does, it begs the question of why they gravitate toward what the X-Men have always represented in the first place. Mutants have always stood as analogs for disenfranchised and persecuted groups around the globe. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created the characters and the relationship they had with the world at large to reflect the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. The team eventually grew into representing the struggles of members of the LBGTQ community, and it always promoted the simple notion that equal is better. No one race needs to stand atop the food chain, so to speak. Compassion should always win out, but sadly, the vitriol from those who would be oppressors or would self-victimize in the name of obstructing progress often shout the loudest.
Magneto's helmet is an iconic symbol in comics. It represents so much to so many fans. For some it is a piece of iconography that simply reminds us of a badass character who has had a spotty track record with diplomacy. But the helmet is also a symbol, at least to some degree, of superiority. Magneto has expressed the idea mutants are simply better than humans. That they are the next step in evolution. And while that latter notion is true, it doesn't make anyone worth less in this world. As the truth gets persecuted, the X-Men will stand to protect it. Because that's the thing: you can fight the truth. You can mask it and tell everyone it's a lie. But in the end the truth prevails. And those who fight against it are destined to become relics just like Cassandra Nova and her faulty ideals.