X-Men Red & Wolverine Explore Family and Identity Through Violence

The following contains spoilers within for Return of Wolverine #2 and X-Men Red #9.

There isn’t a superhero family quite as odd as the X-Men. While the Fantastic Four were Marvel’s First Family and no strangers to weird themselves, the mutant brand of Marvel is home to everything weird, from time-displaced teenagers and ageless soldiers to shark women, kids with multiple eyes on their face and a man who is his own grandfather. Despite all that, the team and everyone of the mutant ilk is family, and because they’re also superheroes of some form or another, that means their fights are stranger and more violent than any holiday spat.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in this week’s X-Men comics. X-Men Red #9 by Tom Taylor, Roge Antonio, Rain Beredo and Cory Petit sees Jean Grey go on a one-woman rescue effort to save Rachel Grey from Cassandra Nova’s telepathic clutches. Despite pleas from Kitty Pryde and the rest of her Red team to let them help, Jean knows this is something she has to do herself. Being the sadistic woman that she is, Cassandra figures the best way to kill Jean is by Rachel’s hand, leading to a fight between mother and daughter.

Return of Wolverine #2 by Charles Soule, Declan Shalvey, Laura Martin and Joe Sabino continues Logan’s mysterious return from the dead, with him and Soteira scientist Ava taking to the sea to rescue her son, Perren. It doesn’t take long for Soteira to send in two of their soldiers to dissuade the pair from following them, and one of them just happens to be his son, Daken, who was taken by Soteira after he traveled to a town infested with zombies. Daken isn’t explicitly named, but seeing his son’s arm tattoos and wrist claw briefly triggers something in Logan’s memory, even though the moment is interrupted by his new Hot Claws power, which he promptly uses to light his son on fire and throw him into the sea.

RELATED: Logan's New Hot Claws Explained -- Sort Of

X-Men Red and Return of Wolverine both wisely play to their respective characters’ personal histories to explore identity and family and how both of those change in near-death circumstances. Having died so many times, Jean can’t help but be so compassionate and loving. It’s not just what she uses to save Rachel from Cassandra, it’s how she was able to help Gentle overcome his childhood trauma and impress Gabby over the book’s run. Cassandra’s never going to change her nature, but it’s also that hate that’s made Jean and her empathy so much stronger, and the telepath knows her conviction to loving others makes her and her team a lot stronger than anything Cassandra will ever throw at them. She knows that dying will just make her a martyr for her cause and the Red team will continue on without her.

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