WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for X-Men: Red #1
Black Panther isn't the only Wakandan superhero making waves in Marvel Comics. A relatively unknown mutant from the nation of Wakanda has been given new prominence thanks to his position in Marvel Comics' new X-Men: Red series. Though his inclusion in the series was set long before Black Panther started shattering box-office records and became Marvel Comics' hottest franchise, his involvement may steer those film-goers trying their hand at comics to give X-Men a try.
The son of a Wakandan woman and a Russian man, Nezhno Abidemi was no stranger to prejudice, even before he discovered that he was a mutant. Rejected by his own mother and Wakandan society at large due to his father's status as an outsider, he found a home of sorts in the Royal Court of Wakanda. It was here that his powers manifested while Ororo Munroe a.k.a. Storm was Queen of Wakanda during her brief marriage to King T'Challa. It was Storm that convinced T'Challa to take the unusual step of allowing Nezhno to leave Wakanda and study at the Charles Xavier Institute for Higher Learning , so that he could better learn to control his newfound powers.
Nezhno's power was a fairly standard one as far as mutant powers went, but it's notable in how it chose to manifest itself. Much like The Incredible Hulk, Nezhno becomes stronger, larger and more durable in moments of great stress. The key difference is that Nezhno's powers are not tied to how angry he is, and that he experiences great pain every time his powers are activated. Additionally, Nezhno lacks The Hulk's healing factor, so every use of his powers is slowly adding to the collective toll taken on his heart and nervous system.
He may have the strength of a superhuman, but one day that power will inevitably kill him.
Given the code-name "Gentle" due to his pacifist beliefs and quiet nature, Nezhno was no less awkward at the Xavier Institute than he had been in the Royal Palace of Wakanda. He distanced himself from other students socially, focusing on his studies and the meditation he used to keep his powers in check. These efforts were further aided by a series of tattoos that Nezhno received, which were made of a special Vibranium-laced ink that helped to prevent his body from becoming over-taxed whenever Nezhno used his powers. It is a temporary measure at best, however, and it is unclear how effective they are following recent events with neutralized the power of all the Wakandan Vibranium on Earth.
It is also unclear precisely what role Gentle will have to play in X-Men Red given that the series' story is being told in flashback. The first issue opened with a scene showing the team in action, before going on to show how the new Red team was formed. The latest issue of the series only features Gentle for two pages, showing him meditating as several other X-Men are visiting Wakanda while seeking political asylum.
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