Nightmare’s most recent encounter with the X-Men reveals the deep-seated nightmares of Scott, Jean, and Laura, causing Jean to fight back with fury.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for X-Men #4, available now from Marvel.
The recent demise of Doctor Strange has opened up the possibility of numerous mystical threats moving into position to try and doom the world of man — including Nightmare, who quickly finds himself confronting another classic group of Marvel heroes.
Nightmare arrives at the Treehouse in X-Men #4 by Gerry Duggan, Javier Pina, Erick Arciniega and VC’s Clayton Cowles, and gets the chance to witness the (perfectly fitting) nightmares for three major members of the X-Men.
As the leader of the X-Men and a prominent member of the team since its inception, Cyclops has always had to contend with the innate pressure of his position. But in the era of Krakoa, that tension has increasingly been weighing on his mind. On the outside, Cyclops has remained cool and collected, perhaps more so than he’s been since the events of Decimation forced him to become a harder and harsher leader. But in his nightmares of past tragedies, there is a constant undercurrent of the possibility of future failure — and with his failure and the collapse of the X-Men, the eventual doom of mutant-kind.
Twice he imagines his demise at the hands of humanity — first as a forgotten skeleton, reduced to nothing but bones by Sentinels. But in the more vivid portion of the dream, he sees himself apologizing to Jean Grey, Emma Frost and finally Xavier and Magneto before fires engulf Krakoa and the Treehouse alike, burning the dreams of a mutant future to ash. As the villainous Nightmare watches and comments, Cyclops witnesses his own body propped up in a coffin in front of the Treehouse — a sign proclaiming once and for all that Cyclops was wrong.
In recent months, Laura Kinney has increasingly embraced her place in Krakoa as Wolverine. But like Logan before her, lost memories haunt her. Specifically, she remembers nothing of her mission into the Vault alongside Synch and Darwin. The trio spent decades in the pocket dimension, where time moves at an enhanced rate. Over those countless years, Darwin was captured and experimented on, while Wolverine and Synch fell in love. At the end of their mission, Wolverine sacrificed herself so Synch could escape — allowing his memories to be restored upon resurrection, while hers were not.
In Laura’s dreams, she’s in full costume and constantly hacking away at the secrets locked away in a vault. Laura fears that by just having Synch’s memories implanted within her, she’d be forced to fall in love with him — leaving her at war with herself and the emptiness within her. Nightmare notes with some relish that these nightmares are delicious for him to witness — and in fighting against herself and her lack of memories, Laura has truly become Wolverine.
More than almost any member of the X-Men, Jean Grey has a wealth of terrors and regrets in her past — most notably her time as the Phoenix. Specifically, Nightmare arrives and witnesses her mindscape seemingly replicate Jean’s time as the Dark Phoenix. It was during this period that the founding X-Man had been consumed by her fury and hunger, resulting in her destroying a star and causing the eradication of billions of alien lives. Jean’s nightmares prove that this act still remains firmly planted within her subconscious, and lingers in her choices.
But notably, Jean actually breaks free from these nightmares, confronting Nightmare on equal footing. Thanks to her Omega-Level telepathy, Jean is able to call out Nightmare for his attempts to feed on the minds of others. She also reveals that she’s at least found a way to motivate herself using the memory of the Dark Phoenix. Cutting back to her speech to mutant-kind that got her elected to the X-Men, Jean openly comments on the fact that she’ll never balance the scales to make up for her actions as Dark Phoenix. But she’ll never stop trying, and at the very least will eventually leave the world having done some good for the universe. It’s a powerful moment from Jean and an affirmation of her place within the X-Men — not just as a psychic defender of the team, but as proof she’s dealt with the crimes of the Phoenix.
KEEP READING: The X-Men Just Made A ‘90s Reject An Official Team Leader
The Outsiders Replaced Batman With One of DC’s Greatest Monsters
About The Author