Connect with us
X-Men Forever #4
Marvel Comics

Comic Books

‘X-Men Forever’ #4 review: Baptism by Phoenix fire

I was *this* close to calling this review ‘Back to the Phuture’.

With this week’s arrival of X-Men Forever #4, one more of the final books of the Krakoan Age comes to a close. Playing dual roles as an epilogue to Immortal X-Men and a companion title to Rise of the Powers of X, the series finale “No Hope” was developed by Kieron Gillen, Luca Maresca, Federico Blee, VC’s Clayton Cowles, and Jordan D. White. Don’t dismiss this book as mere supplemental reading; this last issue proves to be essential to the end of the first Krakoan Era.

On the battlefront, mutantkind is faring valiantly against Orchis and the X-Men are setting their sights on the AI puppet masters of the conflict. On the precipice of reality, things are decidedly more dire. Within spacetime, Destiny is unable to see any future where Enigma is not victorious. In the White Hot Room, the final push to reboot the Phoenix force is about to go pear-shaped thanks to Enigma’s meddling with the timeline of Hope Summers’ birth. Got it? Good, because there’s no time to explain further.

Listen to the latest episode of our weekly comics podcast!

In rare form, Destiny is in despair. The woman who foresaw Krakoa and trusted her wife to destroy it if necessary sees no way forward for mutantkind to escape Enigma’s boot. Mr. Sinister arrives to give her the unlikeliest of pep talks, providing rare insight into Irene’s mental wellbeing. Continuously searching the timeline for Raven’s possible deaths has traumatized her and skewed her prophetic accuracy. However, Destiny and Mystique find enough trust in one another to track down Xavier and restore Irene’s mind, freeing her repressed love for her son, Nightcrawler. This is where this story leaves the state of affairs for the Adler-Darkhölmes: somewhat resolved but still ripe with raw emotions for Gillen to tease out in X-Men: The Wedding Special.

Meanwhile, Hope and Legion’s Phoenix Hunt is off to a rocky start in the White Hot Room. It’s fitting that Legion never assumes human form in this issue seeing as he’s more of a non-character here. His role is to say silly phrases and bridge the gap in our imaginations of “what kind of power could actually kill the Phoenix Force?” Sensing Enigma’s temporal manipulations, Jean uses her control over the dying Phoenix to interrupt the deal Essex tries to broker with Hope’s mother, Louise Spalding. Louise gets a strong showing here, sharing many key character traits with her future daughter and taking in the news of her cosmic significance in stride.

Jean Grey talks to the newborn Phoenix in X-Men Forever #4

Marvel Comics

The Phoenix, since Claremont introduced it, has been steeped in concepts from Jewish and Christian mystical thought, particularly referencing Tiphareth and the Trinity. Al Ewing recently played with The Phoenix as Tiphareth from the Jewish mystical tradition of Kabbalah in Defenders: Beyond. Here, Gillen fleshes out The Phoenix as a feminine Trinity: Jean/Phoenix is God the Mother and her encounter with Louise Spalding is the impetus of Hope’s conception asexually. Symbolically, Phoenix Jean is the Mother, Phoenix Rachel is the Daughter, and Phoenix Hope is the Holy Spirit, but the characters are not restricted solely to those roles. Here, in particular, it is Hope rather than Rachel who makes the messianic sacrifice. This moment is also a massive development in the Phoenix’s lore, as the Phoenix caused Hope’s conception, and it is Hope’s sacrifice blow to the ailing Phoenix that kills the old bird and sparks its birth in the first place. Thankfully Gillen leaned into the beyond-spacetime nature of the WHR in this issue, otherwise, the story might just collapse under the weight of paradox.

The other through-line at play in X-Men Forever #4 is one final discussion about what it really means for Hope to be gone and Krakoa to be sealed away in the White Hot Room. Despite being the best possible outcome from a mandate for Krakoa and resurrection to be moved off the board for the foreseeable future, this development remains frustrating. This is a nitpick, but if all mutants with X-training were called back into the fight on Earth, then three of the Five (Tempus, Elixir, and Egg) should’ve been among those forces. Plus, despite Jumbo Carnation’s boyfriend surviving the Gala, the two will never be reunited as Jumbo is also stranded in the WHR. We have so few good fat characters, so losing both Egg and Jumbo stings. At least Kafka is doing his best to get Krakoa in exile off to a good start.

Maresca and Blee put together some lovely work in this issue, particularly with Jean and the Phoenix. The newborn Phoenix raptor is fiery, dangerous, and adorable. Their take on Destiny is also quickly cementing Irene as a face card to be reckoned with. Nightcrawler and Exodus also get some quick moments where they look very hot. The only real flaw in the art is Maresca’s rendering of Kafka’s hair. Kafka is Black and has natural Black hair, but for some reason, it is not drawn that way here.

Hope is lost, or Hope has taken on the shape of something new and unexpected: that is the charge of X-Men Forever #4. Beautiful art and teary reunions adorn this issue as Hope Summer’s definitive writer bids her farewell in the latest of several Krakoan finales. It’s all so exciting and still so sad, and it’s evident that the creative teams feel similarly to the readers in the face of the end.

X-Men Forever #4
‘X-Men Forever’ #4 review: Baptism by Phoenix fire
X-Men Forever #4
Hope is lost, or Hope has taken on the shape of something new and unexpected: that is the charge of X-Men Forever #4. Beautiful art and teary reunions adorn this issue as Hope Summer's definitive writer bids her farewell in the latest of several Krakoan finales. It's all so exciting and still so sad, and it's evident that the creative teams feel similarly to the readers in the face of the end.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
Huge updates to Hope + Phoenix lore
Destiny's love for Nightcrawler is restored!
"The word made flesh, the flesh made immortal"
Kafka inspiring his fellow exiles to keep the spirit of Krakoa alive in the WHR
We knew we were losing Krakoa and Kafka. Losing Tempus, Elixir, Egg, and Jumbo Carnation was salt in the wound
Why is Kafka's hair straightened
Louise Spalding is almost unbelievably chill about this wild turn of events
8.5
Great
Buy Now

Join the AIPT Patreon

Want to take our relationship to the next level? Become a patron today to gain access to exclusive perks, such as:

  • ❌ Remove all ads on the website
  • 💬 Join our Discord community, where we chat about the latest news and releases from everything we cover on AIPT
  • 📗 Access to our monthly book club
  • 📦 Get a physical trade paperback shipped to you every month
  • 💥 And more!
Sign up today
Comments

In Case You Missed It

Marvel reveals ‘Wolverine’ creative team and more, out in September 2024 Marvel reveals ‘Wolverine’ creative team and more, out in September 2024

Marvel reveals ‘Wolverine’ creative team and more, out in September 2024

Comic Books

Tom King talks 'Wonder Woman' #9 and the future of Trinity Tom King talks 'Wonder Woman' #9 and the future of Trinity

Tom King talks ‘Wonder Woman’ #9 and the future of Trinity

Comic Books

X-Men Monday #251 - Sinister Secrets of the Krakoan Era: Part 1 X-Men Monday #251 - Sinister Secrets of the Krakoan Era: Part 1

X-Men Monday #251 – Sinister Secrets of the Krakoan Era: Part 1

Comic Books

New details revealed for 'Exceptional X-Men' coming September 2024 New details revealed for 'Exceptional X-Men' coming September 2024

New details revealed for ‘Exceptional X-Men’ coming September 2024

Comic Books

Connect
Newsletter Signup