(Image credit: Marvel Comics)
The X-Men have never been shy about their expansive wardrobes with numerous mutants switching up their bespoke costumes on a whim, and April 6’s X-Men Red #1 from writer Al Ewing, artist Stefano Caselli, colorist Federico Blee, and letterer Ariana Maher carries on the tradition by putting one of the X-Men’s biggest fashion-plates in a new spin on a classic look – with much bigger ramifications than a wardrobe change might imply.
Wolverine goes through more suits than a Men’s Warehouse model, Emma Frost has turned her ‘white outfit’ into a genre. Even Charles Xavier, whose design remained largely the same since his introduction, had a drastic design update when he began sporting a black spandex suit and wearing Cerebro on his head for the current post-House of X/Powers of X era. And that’s not even bringing up the many times the X-Men and their spin-off teams have donned matching uniforms.
But rarely does a simple costume change carry the plot significance implied by one of X-Men Red’s lead character’s surprise costume updates, which signal changes not just to the character’s personal status quo, but potentially all of Planet Arakko – and beyond.
Spoilers ahead for X-Men Red #1
(Image credit: Marvel Comics)X-Men Red #1 kicks right in with a battle over the rulership of the planet formerly known as Mars – now called Planet Arakko by the mutants who terraformed it – between a shapeshifting alien queen and fan-favorite X-character, Storm, who has been serving as Regent of Arakko since the planet was founded.
The shapeshifter has taken Ororo’s form, and since we’re talking about visual designs, looks almost identical to Storm’s first appearance all the way back in 1975’s Giant-Sized X-Men #1. Though the nameless shapeshifter has Storm’s powers and even some of her memories, she does not have Storm’s years of experience. The contest ends as the shapeshifter takes her own life, realizing she cannot best the Queen of Storms.
Ororo is Queen of Arakko, and unfortunately, that’s not an easy job. The citizens of the newly terraformed planet originate from either Krakoa, the mutant nation of Earth, or Amenth, the mutant populated hellhole ruled by the deity Annihilation.
(Image credit: Marvel Comics)As you can imagine, the two peoples have very different ideas of what a mutant planet should look like, and tensions are high between the two parties. Not only that but there are sparring factions within the Earth-based mutants, with characters like Vulcan seeking to take control of Arakko for themselves. Needless to say, Storm has got her work cut out for her.
Something needs to be done, and Storm’s head of security for Arakko has an idea. Abigail Brand, leader of the mutant policing organization SWORD (and secret Orchis operative), suggests that she takes a cue from her past and forms a team of cultural ambassadors and peacekeepers – an X-Men of Mars.
Storm rejects the idea, partially because she doesn’t trust that Brand has noble intentions, and partially because she is questioning the morality of Arakko having a Queen. As her mind flashes back to the fatal battle with the shapeshifter, Storm realizes that there should be no outright monarch of Mars and that there should be a team that serves it… but that team shouldn’t be the X-Men.
(Image credit: Marvel Comics)Meanwhile, mutants Magneto and Sunspot are in a newly constructed metal palace on the outskirts of Arakko, discussing what should be done with the planet. They also believe Brand to have purposes of her own, and they further believe that Mars needs a team to protect and guide it. Just like Brand, Sunspot begins to suggest an X-Men team for the alien world but is interrupted by Storm barging in through the front door, having forgone her queenly vestments.
Now, Storm is wearing a leather jacket, leather pants, and metal adornments on her shoulders. Besides this, her hair has completely changed, pulled up in her classic mohawk style, albeit without the shaved parts of her head. Fans will recognize this look as a throwback to the ’80s when artist Paul Smith gave us the punk-rock version of Storm for Uncanny X-Men #173.
But her new duds aren’t the only ‘gasp’ moment for the last pages of X-Men Red #1.
Storm tells Sunspot and Magneto that she refused Abigail Brand’s suggestion of forming an X-Men of Mars and that she believes Brand will assemble her own X-Men team on Arakko, and that Storm, Magneto, and Sunspot will need to “balance” Brand’s team.
“So what balances that?” asks Magneto – who may be most shocked of all to hear Storm’s reply.
“A Brotherhood does,” Storm states wryly, as a bolt of lightning dramatically punctuates the moment.
(Image credit: Marvel Comics)A Brotherhood, as in the Brotherhood of Mutants – Magneto’s former group who originally used the somewhat melodramatic name ‘the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants’.
Combined with her updated punk visage, this line seems to hint that we’ll be witnessing a shift in Storm’s personality, just as we did in 1983 when her original punk look first hit Marvel pages. Could the character who has been a leader, a Queen, and even a ‘goddess’ over her long comic book history be taking on an anti-establishment philosophy? And if that’s the case, what does it mean for the citizens of Arakko, especially the folks that are trying to control it?
Whatever the answers to those questions, it seems that on Planet Arakko, the ideological split between mutants will come down to those who rally behind Abigail Brand’s X-Men and Storm’s Brotherhood – an interesting update of the two teams’ traditional dynamics.
The story continues in May 4’s X-Men Red #2.
Stay on top of all the upcoming ‘Destiny of X’ era releases with our listing of all the new X-Men comics planned for release in 2022 and beyond.
Grant DeArmitt is a NYC-based writer and editor who regularly contributes bylines to Newsarama. Grant is a horror aficionado, writing about the genre for Nightmare on Film Street, and has written features, reviews, and interviews for the likes of PanelxPanel and Monkeys Fighting Robots. Grant says he probably isn’t a werewolf… but you can never be too careful.
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