X-Men: Red (1st series) #9

Issue Date: 
December 2018
Story Title: 
The Hate Machine – part 9: Grey vs. Grey

Tom Taylor (writer), Roge Antonio (artist), Rain Beredo (colorist), VC’s Cory Petit (letterer), Jenny Frison (main cover artist), Maxx Lim (Marvel Battle Lines variant), Jay Bowen, Anthony Gambino & Carlos Lad (graphic designers), Annalise Bissa (assistant editor), Jordan D. White (editor), C.b: Cebulski (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)
X-Men created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Brief Description: 

Jean learns that Cassandra has taken control of her other-dimensional daughter, Rachel Summers. She confronts Cassandra on Genosha and offers to let Cassandra take a shot at her if she lets Rachel go. Surprised at her selflessness, Cassandra complies and seemingly kills Jean, until she learns Jean was an astral projection all along – the real Jean is still in Atlantis X. With the help of the others, Trinary fights the mutant hatred on social media and is oblivious about Gentle’s attempts at flirting, until Laura and Gabby intervene.

Full Summary: 

The Xavier Institute:
Headmistress Kitty Pryde is calling Atlantis X to inform Jean Grey’s team that Rachel Summer has disappeared after taking out Rockslide. Jean fears that Cassandra Nova has taken over Rachel. Kitty offers to get her team ready. Jean thanks her but declines. Cassandra will also be able to take over them. She promises to ger Rachel back.

Trinary offers to get the Sentinel ready. Jean declines again. Trinary already has two missions, she explains.

Nightcrawler offers to accompany Jean. She tells him she knows how he feels about Rachel, but she really needs to do this alone. Kur is taken aback by Jean’s revelation that she is aware of his and Rachel’s past relationship. She replies he was practically screaming it every time she was in his head. He admits he should have told her, but he thought it was weird. Jean scoffs. They are X-Men. They have seen much weirder.

Jean walks past Gabby, who asks if she is really going to do this alone. She compares Jean to her sister Laura and points out she doesn’t have to do everything alone. Jean replies she was once bonded to the Phoenix Force. It tore a planet apart. This won’t happen again on her watch. This isn’t something Gabby can understand. Gabby retorts she was once turned into an alien telepathic queen who could communicate with other aliens across the galaxy. And the same day she blew up an entire moon full of her alien hive. It’s Jean’s turn to be flabbergasted, as Gabby continues that she might not exactly know what Jean went through, but there are degrees of experience.

Jean reaches the Serebro chamber where Storm is waiting. Did Jean always know she was going to bear the weight of the world on her shoulders? Because she was really questioning the decision. Now she knows why Jean is wearing the shoulder pads. She asks her what she needs. Jean replies by rote she is ok. Storm points out Jean need not protect her and repeats her question. Jean asks her to head part of the way to Genosha. If she can free Rachel, she will send her Storm’s way. Storm promises to catch her. They hug and Storm tells her to go be a hero.

Cassandra Nova is keeping the brain-washed Rachel like a dog on a leash. Sensing Jean’s approach, she lets Rachel off the leash and orders her to kill her mother.

Rachel flies towards Jean, who is floating above the ground. Jean fends off her attack and telepathically urges Rachel to fight against Nova’s control. Rachel fires a psi-blast at her that smashes her to the ground.

Atlantis X:
Gentle joins Trinary, Honey Badger and X-23 and asks what Trinary is working on. She replies there are so many demonstrably false stories online demonizing mutants. They’ve been posted, shared and believed, despite being complete fabrications. She’s trying to address the false narratives, dog whistle politics and hate speech. She is trying to replace the lies and move the truth where people will see it.

Gentle asks if he can help. She tells him to help Laura and Gabby find more positive stories to share. Gabby announces she is in charge of finding videos where mutants are playing with kittens and puppies. She honestly believes this is what she was born to do.

Looking at two test tubes, Gentle asks why the Sentinites are here. Trinary can’t tell him. He reminds her they are teammates. They should be able to trust one another. Laura points out this isn’t a trust issue. They are up against a powerful telepath. The fewer heads she can pull secrets from, the better. Gentle admits that makes sense.

He sits down and asks if she ever takes a break. Studying the Sentinites Trinary replies, sure. She reads a bit. Goes for a walk. Sometimes she reboots. Of course, Nezhno replies. Does she… uh…

Gabby groans at the awkwardness and tells Laura to do something. Laura bluntly tells Trinary she isn’t very good at listening to people, then reminds Nezhno he fought a Hulk. He should have the courage to asks a girl out! Trinary is embarrassed, only now getting it.

Cassandra is pleased to see Rachel attacking Jean. However, Jean has had enough and stops her easily. Disappointed, Cassandra remarks that she thought Rachel could do her more damage. Jean replies she could, but she is fighting Cassandra in her own way. Figuring Rachel is no use, Cassandra begins to kill her. Jean shouts at her to stop. She tells her to free Rachel and she will lower her defenses and surrender. Cassandra cannot believe someone would be that pathetically altruistic. Jean tells her to read her mind. She won’t fight back and she won’t move.

Cassandra releases Rachel. Waking up, she asks if she hurt Jean, who assures her that she is alright, but she needs Rachel to leave. Rachel pleads; together they could take her. Calling her “dog girl,” Cassandra tells her to listen to mommy. Furious, Rachel hits her in the face, her blow supported by her TK. Cassandra gets up, recovers her lower jaw and threatens to show her real hurt. Jean warns her if she does that their deal is off. She tells Rachel that Ororo is waiting for her three miles away and tells her to go. When Rachel hesitates, Jean telepathically asks her to trust Jean.

Rachel leaves. Jean tells Cassandra, there is something missing in her. Has she never cared for anyone but herself? She hasn’t, has she? She is painfully alone. She doesn’t have to do this. Despite everything. They could talk. Really? Cassandra asks and blasts Jean apart the next moment. She begins to walk away, calling her an idiot.

Suddenly, a mental voice chides her; that wasn’t very nice. Cassandra is flabbergasted. She didn’t fight back, she didn’t move, an unharmed Jean points out. She just isn’t where Cassandra thought she was. She has been sending via Searebro all along. Cassandra confronted a psychic projection. She’s pretty selfless, but she’s not an idiot.

Cassandra admits that Jean has grown stronger. Jean agrees and adds that she is coming for her. They are all coming for her. People like Cassandra, with so much fear and hate in their heads, they are always quick to confuse weakness and empathy. Empathy isn’t weakness, it just means they have something bigger than themselves to fight for. And that makes them dangerous.

Jean’s psychic form grows dwarfing Cassandra. She has made her dangerous, Jean warns her.

Cassandra spits back that she isn’t afraid of Jean or her X-Men. Jean calls her on her lie. She is afraid of their compassion and what it says about her that she has none. She is afraid that she is wrong, that she is less, that she is lacking!

Cassandra promises that she will raise an army and crush Jean’s dream. And she will kill her. Unimpressed, Jean retorts that she isn’t afraid to die for others. In fact, she’d argue she’s pretty good at it. She’s done it a few times. She’s not afraid to die for what she believes in. Is Cassandra?

Jean breaks off contact. She tells the others that Rachel’s safe but they need to contact Atlantis immediately. They are going to war…

Characters Involved: 

Gambit, Gentle, Jean Grey, Honey Badger, Nightcrawler, Storm, Trinary, Wolverine II (Jean’s X-Men team)

Kitty Pryde

Cassandra Nova

Story Notes: 

Cassandra brainwashed Rachel in X-Men: Red Annual #1.

Nightcrawler and Rachel had a romantic relationship in X-Men Gold.

Honey Badger was briefly a brood queen in All-New Wolverine #23-24.

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