WARNING: This article contains spoilers for X-Men Red #8 by Tom Taylor, Carmen Carnero, Rain Beredo and VC’s Cory Petit, out now.
X-Men Red has been focusing on the adult Jean Grey and her attempts to directly combat the discrimination facing mutants in a world that continues to hate and fear them. Nothing new there then, except writer Tom Taylor has been bringing the real-world analogies that the X-Men have been steeped in throughout their 55-year history up to date in surprising and effective ways. Here, in this week’s X-Men Red #8, those analogies finally land in a poetic and satisfying scene.
Operating from the undersea realm of Atlantis -- utilizing the amusingly named Searebro to locate new and endangered mutants -- Jean Grey’s team of X-Men is a mix of old (Nightcrawler, Storm, Gambit) and new (Honey Badger, Gentle), and it’s latest member, Trinary, who uses her powers to combat and ultimately defeat the biggest threat the team has faced so far. Trinary was rescued in X-Men Red #1 after carrying out a high-stakes Robin Hood-style heist across her native India.
Trinary (her real name has not yet been revealed) is a technopath, granting her the ability to talk to and control machines with her mind. Rather than use her powers for selfish causes, she instead reached out into the accounts of the highest earning CEOs in India and distributed their wealth of the poorest working women in the country, something that got her arrested by the Indian Mutant Defense Force and noticed by Jean and her team.
Following her rescue, she has been working with the X-Men to fight against Cassandra Nova, the evil twin sister of Charles Xavier who has been manipulating public perceptions of Jean Grey and all mutants for weeks. It started when Jean spoke about mutant rights at the UN, only to be framed by Nova for the assassination of a UN ambassador. It’s later revealed that Nova has been manufacturing Sentinel nanobots that enter people’s brains, using them to incite violence against mutantkind across the globe. Nova started with high-ranking government officials, but is now ready to unleash a vast swarm of Sentinites that will infect the entirety of Earth’s population.
In what seems like an unwinnable scenario, Jean devises a plan in which Trinary will channel her powers through Searebro and reach out to every Sentinite in the world. It’s a fine plan, except her brain would be fried before she could disable them all. Enter Honey Badger. The young clone of Laura Kinney (herself a clone of the original Wolverine) has a powerful healing factor, meaning that her brain cells will recover faster than they can be destroyed. Plus, she feels no pain, leaving no nasty moral quandaries by using her in this way.
By channeling her powers through Honey Badger, Trinary is able to use Searebro to reach out to all of the trillions of Sentinites. While Storm attacks the ruins of Genosha and distracts Cassandra Nova, Trinary puts her plan into effect. At such a late stage, though, it’s not enough to merely turn the Sentinites off, she will need to destroy them, too. To do this, Trinary unleashes something she’d been holding in for years: A lifetime of internet hatred.
Ever since her powers manifested when she was 12, Trinary had been exposed to the entire online world. While she admits there were good things out there, there was also a lot of “fear and ignorance wrapped in anger.” She spent years removing as much ugliness as she could find, absorbing the bile, hatred and abuse. Now, she is unleashing it. She weaponizes internet hate and turns it against the Sentinite swarm. Or, as she puts it: “I’m crashing them... with zettabytes of spite.”
Seeing as the Sentinel nanobots were themselves a way of weaponizing hatred and bigotry across the world, witnessing the years of online abuse be turned into a force for good against them is not only poetic justice, but cathartic too. The X-Men have long been an analogy that has represented the fight against racial discrimination, gender bias and any hatred that comes out of fear of the "other." Now, Tom Taylor has added to that cause by turning their fight into one against the internet trolls that plague not only the comics industry, but anyone and everyone who dares to be different.