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Note: Since this retro review mentions both Russia and Ukraine, I encourage you all to help the people of Ukraine (whose lives have been disrupted by Russian forces) by donating to the Ukraine Appeal project of Hillsong Church. Donate now at https://hillsong.com/appeal/
Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, 1990s culture enthusiasts, X-Men fans and comic book collectors! Today we revisit the X-Men Adventures monthly series which was a literary adaptation of the famous X-Men animated series of the 1990s.
To be more specific, we examine a tale of the major X-Men villain Omega Red within the monthly series adaptation of the 2nd season of the animated series. Take note that I previously reviewed X-Men #4 (1991), X-Men #5 (1992) and X-Men #6 (1992) which told the first tale of Omega Red who turned out to have a history of conflict with Wolverine decades prior.
With those details laid down, here is a look back at X-Men Adventures Season II #4, published by Marvel Comics in 1994 with a story by Ralph Macchio and drawn by John Herbert.
The story begins in the Caucasus located between Ukraine and Georgia. Inside, a group of people work on a scientific operation resulting a power surge. The surge then causes a stasis chamber’s glass to crack. Moments later, Omega Red emerges and he has clear knowledge about who restrained him, who the government leaders and what happened to the Russian empire. He declares that the Russian empire shall live again. In Moscow, three high ranking military officers discuss their secret plan on restoring the Soviet Union. It turns out, the return of Omega Red is the first step for their ambitious plan.
In America, Jubilee encounters a group of activists who hate mutants inside a convenience store. Peter Rasputin/Colossus, the Russian mutant who encountered the X-Men sometime prior, comes into the store to help Jubilee. Afterwards, Jubilee and Colossus travel to Charles Xavier’s mansion – Xavier’s School for Gifted Children – and discuss important matters. He tells her that Omega Red has emerged in Russia and he need to speak to Professor X. It turns out, Xavier disappeared some weeks prior.
As the situation is so desperate for Colossus, he asks Jubilee if she would help him in his struggle to save his nation. Jubilee makes a hasty decision to do so and leaves a handwritten note telling her teammates that she is off to Russia…
While this comic book’s cover art easily reminds me of the Wolverine-Omega Red confrontation on the cover of X-Men #5 (1992), the story here is more varied than that mentioned comic book drawn by Jim Lee. As this is an adaptation of the X-Men animated series episode titled “Red Dawn”, it is not surprising to see the spotlight being divided by many characters.
Omega Red, who has been declared as one of the greatest X-Men villains ever, has a somewhat strong presence serving as the main figure of opposition against Charles Xavier’s team as well as the surviving elite remnant of the Soviet Union. Quite amusingly, Omega Red is totally loyal to the Russian empire similar to how James Bond is very loyal to England and the queen. In comparison to issues #4 to #6 of the X-Men monthly series, the history of conflict between Omega Red and Wolverine was very lightly portrayed.
As mentioned earlier, the spotlight is shared a lot by many characters which results a lack of a true protagonist among the X-Men. This is not necessarily a problem as Omega Red’s presence had enough strength. The other Russian Colossus, who at the start of the story has not yet joined the X-Men, got a good share of the spotlight among the good guys and that results some quick and efficient exposition to get readers oriented with him, his family and how he became an outcast in his nation because of his mutation.
The plot itself is light on details which is not surprising due to the high amount of exposition which includes a geopolitical look at the remaining loyalists of the Soviet Union living in Russia which saw some of its regions transformed into republics. With regards to superhero spectacle, this one has a good amount of action and I can easily say the biggest attraction is the fight between Wolverine and Omega Red. Just don’t expect it to be as extensive nor as detailed as the ones Jim Lee drew in the adjective-less X-Men series.
X-Men Adventures Season II #4 (1994) is a fun superhero story to read and I find its portrayal of the Wolverine-Omega Red conflict to be interesting knowing it was not part of comic book canon of the time. Apart from the mentioned conflict, there is something for X-Men fans to enjoy here such as Colossus’ return and his new interactions with the X-Men, how Omega Red’s presence causes danger in Russia, and the current whereabouts of Charles Xavier. Lastly, I should state that John Herbert’s art style is engaging to look at and he made Omega Red look intimidating.
Overall, X-Men Adventures Season II #4 (1994) is recommended!
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