X-Men: Red (2nd series) #4

Issue Date: 
August 2022
Story Title: 
Three Short Stories About Death

Al Ewing(writer), Juan Caball, Andres Genolet & Michael Sta. Maria (artists), Federico Blee (color), VC’s Clayton Cowles (letterer), Tom Muller and Jay bowen (design),Russell Dautermann (cover artist),)VC’s Clayton Cowles (production), Laure Amara (associate 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: 

At the great Ring of Arakko, a discussion starts regarding whether Krakoans can join the Great Ring, as they are functionally immortal and thus face no real risk in the arena. Magneto anticipated this and reveals he and Storm are voluntarily no longer part of the resurrection queue. If they die, they die. Storm, in the meantime, attends a meeting with several alien ambassadors in the Diplomatic Zone, where Oracle of the Imperial Guard informs them Shi’ar Empress Xandra was murdered. A discussion starts on whether Krakoa could and should resurrect Xandra until Storm informs them that it has already happened. Xandra’s psychic scream was her contacting her father, Xavier. Afterwards, Nova asks if he can visit in Arakko, as he anticipates trouble, and Storm invites him. At Arbor Magna, Sunspot gets resurrected and starts talking to the new Rockslide - or Wrongslide as he is being called. They talk about life and death and Wrongslide reveals that eventually he wants to die in Otherworld to give another soul a chance at being. Sunspot invites him to Arakko.

Full Summary: 

Planet Arakko: the Great Ring:
Ora Serrata announces that Magneto takes the Seat of Loss. And they must ask the most obvious question: What is the meaning of loss? What is the meaning of death?

In the Circle, to lose is to yield or to die. If you rise again after death, it makes no difference to the loss. If a member of the Great Ring falls in the Circle and were to lose their life and resurrect, they would not regain their seat. These questions are as old as the White Sword’s army of risen dead. The new Krakoan age does not give them new answers. The Arakkii do not desire resurrection. That is the way of the White Sword, not theirs. They are not afraid of a life that ends. But they are aware that life may end, even those that do not age may lose their lives in the Circle. They understand the potential cost of their high position. And so they weigh each decision with care, knowing they may be challenged and it may be their last.

No one should be immune to death, for who faces the challenge without feeling the risk? A poor ruler. The Arakkii way is to keep an open door to everyone, including the Kraokans with their weak desire for a life without the risks of life. But should that welcome include an open door to serve on the Great Ring? Krakoans have a place in the broken land, but they must decide if they have a place on the Great Ring.

Magneto summarizes that Ora says leadership must demand sacrifice. To lead a people, one must be prepared to lose, and lose everything. He pointedly asks Isca the Unbeaten if she has an opinion on that. With a smirk, she retorts she could debate the necessity of loss. And she’d win that debate as she wins all things. Magneto cooly replies he is aware of her latest “victory” against one of his students. While his back was turned…

Is he sure he wants to bring that up? she asks, her smile gone. How he is only here because DaCosta used Isca’s power to cheat? Ora Serrata interjects that Magneto won using his chosen weapon. No law was broken. If DaCosta speaking a few words to her could undermine that… perhaps he is not the problem.

Isca warns her not to cast her evil eye at her. She may go blind! As for Magneto’s student, he is a Krakoan. They don’t die like Arakkii do. That’s the point of this meeting. He is probably back already.

Arbor Magna:
A yet mindless Sunspot breaks from the resurrection egg. He looks up to see Rockslide standing there. Jean Grey telepathically returns Roberto’s memory and personality to him.

The Great Ring:
Lodus Logos asks Isca if she dies like them. Of course, she can die, she blusters. She always wins but she is sure a poet like him can find victory in death. But not in the Circle Xilo interjects. Can Isca ever be removed from the Seat of Victory? Isca replies, when Genesis returns. Or better, when they return to her. This is her sister’s seat. She only keeps it warm.

A throne on Arakko then, Magneto observes. Ororo would have something to say about that. She is sure she would if she were here, Isca sniffs. Where is their gracious queen? Elsewhere, Magneto replies. She is letting him speak for both of them. They are of one mind on this. Elsewhere? Isca demands. Magneto explains, she is the voice of Sol. Designated diplomatic spokesperson for the solar system. Sometimes things come up.

Storm is currently at a Shiar emergency meeting at the Proscenium.

The attendees include Oracle of the Shi’ar Imperial Guard, Emperor Dorrek VIII aka Hulkling of the Kree-Skrull Empire, the Black Panther (via hologram), Orbis Stellaris (representing the Rim Worlds) and Nova (representing the Guardians of the Galaxy).

Storm enters and sees the hologram form of her former husband. Still the ruler of Intergalactic Wakanda, she sees. He considers it a transitional phase and tells her it is good to see her. She is missing important business on Arakko for this, is her cool reply. Magneto knows where she stands, but she’d rather be there in person.

Still, it gives them an opportunity to talk, T’Challa points out. They had said no more secrets and then he learns about mutant resurrection from the Daily Bugle. Did Gentle not keep him informed in his reports? Storm shoots back. It was never about state secrets. She didn’t want the Galactus Protocol or the backdoor codes for Kimoyo. She just wanted the man she still loved not to lie to her face. Instead, he put a sleeper agent on Arakko, because he figured she was too stupid to figure it out. She gave him a chance to come clean. Instead, he chose to continue playing his great game. She won’t live on his chessboard! He admits neither would he. Still, the game goes on. Shall they?

They stand before the entry to the chamber. They are the last to arrive. Oracle greets them and gets to the point. Shi’ar empress Xandra Neramani is dead. Oracle explains she heard her psychic scream as she died. The entirety of her being broadcast to the void as she perished. She saw her whole life and then she was gone.

Hulkling asks that not even the Shi’ar know? Oracle explains Deathbird is missing, but she put the protocol into place. In the case of Xandra’s death, they shore up support with their most important allies, before they inform the people or even fellow Super Guardians. Because, when the knowledge is abroad, it will mean war The empire is still unstable and Xandra’s absence will create a power vacuum. If the conflict were to turn astro-nuclear… Casualties in the trillions! At best, Nova states.

Hukling asks what Oracle wants from them. Black Panther warns interference from Intergalactic Wakanda in Shi’ar affairs would be taken poorly by both sides. He points out Xandra is the daughter of Charles Xavier. If she has psychic gifts, she is surely a mutant herself. Is there a simple solution they are not considering? Can Krakoa bring her back?

Arbor Magna:
Sunspot, now clothed, admits he is surprised the Professor isn’t here. He prefers resurrecting his own students when he can. He remembers Xavier reading him the riot act for getting killed last time. Hope replies evasively the professor is resting. He had a long day. Jean suspects Ororo will want to talk to him, when she gets back from space.

Roberto remarks his last back-up was two days ago, so he can only guess what he did to tick Isca off. He looks after Rockslide, who is walking out. He suspects they all have questions. Does he often come down here? he asks Elixir. The healer replies he likes watching the process. The Santo he knew died in Otherworld. This guy is an amalgam of all possible Santos. And he was as shocked as them.

The Proscenium:
Orbis Stellaris objects to the resurrection of Xandra in the name of the Cosmic Rim. Hulkling points out if reversing one death will prevent a cosmic war… Why this death? Orbis Stellaris demands. Why can only mutants return from death and not others? Where is the justice? And what happens the next time she dies? Reviving Xandra will not fix the rot in the Shi’ar Empire, only stave off the inevitable. They will install an immortal dictator on the throne to rule until the end of time! He does not consent to that! He says: let there be war! If that is the bed the Shi’ar have made, let them lie in it! It is the lesser of two evils!

The Great Ring:
Ora Serrata announces they must decide if Krakoans can serve on the Great Ring or not. Magneto interrupts her with a curt ‘no.’ Krakoa is only a place, he explains. The precedent should be universal. He touches the small floating Cerebro unit next to him. Should those who have removed themselves from death’s reach rule those who have not. That is the question, and this is their answer: it’s called a Cerebro drive, built by Forge. A similar device to their cradles, but more limited. It stores but does not create back-ups. It only stores a preset selection.

Back-ups? Isca asks. Mental versions of Krakoans, Magneto explains. The self that draws back the soul to the new body. If souls exist, of course. Perhaps this is all they truly leave behind them… a handful of memories held tight against the setting sun…

Rockslide stands at the beach watching the sun set. Then he draws up some sand and watches it pour through his fingers.

Sunspot carefully addresses him as Santo. He replies he doesn’t know who that is. The children call him “Wrongslide.” Sunspot winces. Kids can be cruel. Is that the intent? Wrongslide asks. He doesn’t’ see it that way. He doesn’t want the name of somebody lost. That would be cruel to everyone. “Wrongslide” is a sound that only means him. What’s the sound that means only him? he asks Roberto.

Sunspot introduces himself with his mutant name, but he prefers Roberto. Did he know Santo? Wrongslide asks. Skipping some stones across the water, Roberto replies he did. His death hit everyone hard. It was so arbitrary. One day he was here, the next… He was so full of life. It doesn’t seem fair.

The Proscenium:
Richard Rider takes off his helmet. Once upon a time, he used the entire Nova Force to bring the dead of Xandar back to life. Pretty basic. Cloned bodies, mind recordings. They probably got a better way on Krakoa. But a lot of people thought that was unfair too. Anyway, then the Annihilation War happened. The whole planet died all over again and he was left staring at the corpses. Fairness restored, he guesses…

Does Krakoa have immortality? Will Xandra have immortality? No on both counts. Everybody dies. That’s just life. He doesn’t regret buying Xandar a few extra days of peace. He won’t regret it for those colony worlds either. If it was him on Krakoa? It would already be done!

Storm replies that she is glad he thinks so, because it is already done.

Flabbergasted, Oracle demands how Krakoa even knew. Did they bring a listening device to this meeting? Storm sharply tells her to think. The psychic wave Oracle caught. Does she think it was meant for her? If Xandra had enough power to throw her entire being across the stars – think where she got that power from. Think who has the power to catch it. Charles Xavier – perhaps the universe’s most powerful telepath. And when offered the choice and the chance, he will always choose life over death!

Sitting in the Cerebro unit, blood flowing from his nose from the strain Charles orders the Five to convene and for Mr. Sinister to convene the DNA sequence.

Storm announces she appreciates Oracle informing them. She then addresses Orbis Stellaris, warning there was never any debate to be had over this. Mutantkind does not need their permission to live or thrive.

As she leaves the chamber, Nova hurries after her. He explains that there is a lot of instability in the air. The Reckoning, the latest thing with the Shi’ar… His Nova sense is starting to tingle again. His therapist says he fixates on things, but he still thinks they are heading toward something big. And he thinks Arakko might be the focal point. Mind if he comes visit for a while? Storm tells him he will fit right in. She agrees with his suspicions and having his perspective certainly won’t hurt them.

Krakoa, the beach:
Wrongslide muses that he hurts people by being here. They see him and remember their friend. He is a tombstone for someone they wish was here. That’s not fair. It’s not fair he makes people sad, when he is so happy. It’s so beautiful to be here. And it only lasts so long. He also skips a stone across the water. Roberto agrees. Even with the Five, it only lasts so long. That’s the lesson Santo taught them. Death can be postponed, but it can’t be avoided. Everyone dies. That’s just life. Wrongslide agrees with a smile. That’s life.

Arakko, the Great Ring.
Isca scoffs that’s what Magneto offers them – a life so small you keep it in a box? Does he think they want that? No, he replies calmy and destroys the unit. And neither does he. He explains that was his and Storm’s back-up – the last one in existence, and no more will be recorded. They no longer have the Krakoan insurance. If they are to defend Arakko, they must be of Arakko. They understand the cost.

There are other ways back, of course. Other doors. His daughter built one. But to come that way… you have to want to return. As Ororo said: to everything a season. He finds himself in autumn and he fears winter. He’s seen what comes with the cold of centuries. What can hide through life after life… even from yourself. What would he become with endless time? He fears it, he states forcefully. He does not fear a life that ends!

Wrongslide announces he thinks he wants to die on Otherworld. Not right now? Roberto bursts out shocked. Not for a long time, Wrongslide assures him. But when the stone that is him slows on the water, he will go through the gate. And when it is the time, he will lie down in the flow and give himself back to the everything. And the Five will bring back someone new. And they will be alive, they will see what he sees. The beauty. He’ll have shared it.

As they both look up at the night sky, Roberto asks if he has been to Arakko yet.

Characters Involved: 

Magneto, Storm, Sunspot (Brotherhood of Arakko)
Idyll, Isca, Lactuca, Lodus Logos, Ora Serrata, Sobunar, Xilo (Great Ring of Arakko)

Jean Grey
Professor X
Elixir, Hope Summers II (The Five)

Emperor Hulkling
Black Panther

Orbis Stellaris

Story Notes: 

The secret of mutant resurrection was leaked to the press in X-Men (6th series) #12

Gentle was shown to be a Wakandan spy in Black panther (8th series) #3.

Xandra was killed in Marauders (2nd series) #3

Rockslide was murdered by the Summoner during X of Swords. It turned out that, when a mutant dies in otherworld, another version of the person will be resurrected.

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