WARNING: This article contains spoilers for X-Men Red #4 by Tom Taylor and Mahmud Asrar, in stores now.
From the first issue, X-Men Red has been a political book disguised as a superhero story. Yes, the plot revolves around Jean Grey coming back to life, but the real story is about how she's seeking to usher in true, lasting change for the way mutants are perceived by society. The X-Men were always meant to be a metaphor for societal prejudice, and here, that approach is front and center.
As Jean assembles a new team for her global mission of peace, she attracts the attention of Cassandra Nova, a mutant-hating villain if there ever was one. In Taylor and Asrar's hands, Cassandra embodies biased hate, a veritable reflection of the times we live in, taken to the extreme in the Marvel Universe.
Now, the series has stepped up the danger level by introducing the Sentinites, microscopic, nanite Sentinels that latch themselves onto hosts, turning these people into mutant-hating killers. Tom Taylor's script compares their actions to online companies exploiting the data of its customers to influence the results of elections worldwide, a clear reference to the recent Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal. The Sentinites are a cybernetic expression of that, instilling fear and hate both remotely and directly.
The Sentinites can be hardwired onto anyone. Once attached, everyone, whether a well-meaning world leader or powerful X-Men member Storm, is turned into a Sentinel. They turn into restless hunter-killers, drones whose only command is to exterminate mutant life -- even that of their hosts. That's right, if a mutant is affected by a Sentinite, they can turn its power on themselves. Now, any man, woman and child on the planet can be turned into a Sentinel, meaning that this next upgrade is infinitely more dangerous than any version that came before.
What's worse is that the technology was created by one of the X-Men's own: Forge. In his defense, the mutant who can create any piece of technology he imagines isn't exactly in a proper state of mind. Cassandra Nova somehow found a way to turn him into a compliant drone, and she used him to create her Sentinites. Since she is a powerful telepath in her own right, it's pretty safe to Cassandra is using her ability on Forge in order to have the gifted inventor create all sorts of anti-mutant weapon she would want.
In order to prevent Jean's team of X-Men from becoming affected by these Sentinites, the young Indian mutant Trinary designs new uniforms with the help of Wakandan scientists. These new matching uniforms, which serve as firewalls, are designed to prevent Jean, Nightcrawler, Namor and the rest of the team from being turned into Sentinels.
Now, Jean and the X-Men Red are fully outfitted. They know what they are facing, and they know what threats are hunting them. Taylor and Asrar took their time to build this new team, but now they are ready to soar. It's time for them to save all of mutantkind, and inspire the real world to accept and care for one another in the process.