31 Days of Horror 2021 Presents From the House of Ideas: “X-Men #4” Brings Nightmares to Cyclops and Jean Grey

Sometimes, we deal with real, living nightmares – bad government, road closures, traffic. I think we can all relate to those, right? But what happens when a nightmare takes over a city?

That’s the subject that writer Gerry Duggan and artist Javier Pina cover in X-Men #4, a relatively standalone issue from the ongoing Orchis storyline (which is a solid one, to note). Instead, the focus here is the evil Nightmare, who is spreading band dreams across New York City. When he comes to the X-Men’s new treehouse home, he thinks he can spread his bad dreams to two of the most powerful X-Men around – Cyclops and Marvel Girl.

Bad news for Nightmare. Good news for us Halloween lovers.

Duggan does an excellent job diving into the theoretical worst nightmares of both Scott Summers and Jean Grey – for Scott, it comes down to his fear of leadership and failing his fellow mutants. In the case of Jean, her fears seem to be her relationship with Scott, and the lingering feelings from her time as Phoenix when she killed an entire planet. However, what Nightmare soon discovers is that Jean Grey has long accepted the actions she committed under the influence of Phoenix – and a Marvel Girl at peace with herself is someone Nightmare doesn’t want to content with.

Following the epic Hickman X-Men run, Gerry Duggan’s work feels a little more grounded and, because of that, more accessible. They’re two distinct styles, and whether you’re onboard with Duggan’s writing following Hickman’s work might depend on how you like your X-Men. I’ll admit that I didn’t love the new line-up initially, but having Cyclops and Marvel Girl anchor the team is definitely working for the book.

If you haven’t had a chance to read this new X-book, X-Men #4 isn’t a bad place to start as a taste of the new team, and get a good Halloween-style read as well.

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