One of the most powerful and fascinating details of the X-Men’s current revitalization on the living island Krakoa is that their new, ever-splintering yet still-idealistic sovereign nation is a home to all mutants, not just X-Men and their former allies. The rehabilitation of — or uneasy Entente Cordiale between — former villains and enemies to Charles Xavier’s dream has made current X-Books a constant push and pull… and a chance for mutantkind at large to reclaim some of the sins of its past.
This week’s launch of X-Men: Red — by Al Ewing, Stefano Caselli, Frederico Blee, and Ariana Maher — focuses on Storm’s uneasy new position as the Regent of Arrako: formerly the planet Mars, recently terraformed as a home for mutants. And not just Krakoans, but all mutants, including the ancient Arraki who hailed from the living island’s sister entity. Storm finds herself playing a balancing act between the people she’s known most of her life and this new group of completely alien mutant allies, but also between what she wants to represent as the newfound leader of this rather literal new world.
Therein lies Storm’s biggest problem: she does not want to be seen as a Queen, but is forced to carry that mantle and all it represents nonetheless. And it’s not like she hasn’t invited this in making the moves she did to help terraform Mars into the new home of Arrako. As people needle her throughout the issue, it is Storm who has taken on the trappings and title of such a leader, no matter how many times she rebels and insists that she is simply Arrako’s Regent. There is a throne on Arrako, and she sits on it as a queen — the triumphantly claimed title of the Voice of Sol giving her decisions the weight of rule, and her actions the responsibility of speaking for an entire people, Arraki and Krakoan alike.
It’s that issue that gives Storm an opportunity, however: frustrated after SWORD operative (and surreptitious traitor to the Krakoan cause) Abigail Brand tells Storm the only way she’s going to speak for all of her people is to establish a new X-Men team for the planet, a walking PR opportunity, Storm retreats to her private chambers to consider her place as leader. And really, how much she hates it. She destroys her throne in a fit of rage, and casts aside the lightning-bolt mantle she took for herself, a literally explosive act of rebellion against the expectations placed on her. But it’s not the only revolution Storm stages. She realises that an X-Men Red, if you will, is what people want to control the aims of the new peoples of Arrako, and that if the red planet is to stand on its own for all its inhabitants, it does need a team… but one of its own making, and certainly not the X-Men.
The Brotherhood of Mutants rises once again, taking Magneto’s former villainous title for his agents and transforming it into a reclaimed point of rebellion. It’s not the first time in this era of X-Comics the new mutant society has reclaimed a name associated with atrocities against mutantkind: after all, one of the most prominent mutant forces on Krakoa is Captain Pryde and her Marauders, reclaiming the mantle of Mister Sinister’s former assassination squad behind the Mutant Massacre to be used as the title of Krakoa’s mutant rescue agency. And if recent rumours are to be believed, the X-Terminators are about to return again, re-reclaiming X-Factor’s old disguise as mutant hunters for their own rescue operations. Part of the point of Krakoan society — and as an extension, Arraki society — is this idea of reclamation and rehabilitation, that the mutant peoples are one, regardless of old conflicts and actions.
Storm taking that to heart and leading the united Arraki and Krakoan immigrants on Mars into forming a new Brotherhood of Mutants — the name of the X-Men’s oldest foes — is not to just bite her thumb at Brand’s suggestion. It’s to highlight that Arrako is a different, independent world, a great turn for a character who has struggled to often see who she is beyond the confines of Krakoa’s own Quiet Council of leaders in this current age. Storm has been an X-Man, she has been a councilor, she has worked alongside the Marauders. Now her time as leader has evolved into something different, an act of rebellion to break the chains around her and be free to be who she really wants to be in this transformative moment.
A new punk-rock look reflective of her classic Mohawk era and a position among a Brotherhood of Arraki and Krakoans, fighting for their own world together? There are indeed greater things to be than royalty.