X-Men: Prime #1 did exactly what it needed to do to at least sell me on giving the main X-Men comics, Gold and Blue, a chance. As someone that has not read the X-Men team books since Brian Bendis ending his run on All-New X-Men it is exciting to get back into it. The franchise holds a special place in my heart and have enjoyed both All-New Wolverine and Old Man Logan. Now hopefully following X-Men: Prime the franchise can find its footing again and reclaim its spot as one of premiere franchises in the comic book realm. Will X-Men: Gold #1 do just that? Let’s find out.
Writer: Marc Guggenheim
Artist: Ardian Syaf
Inker: Jay Leisten
Colorist: Frank Martin
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: On The Fact Channel, Lydia Nance, who is the Heritage Initiative Director, speaks to the audience about how the mutants X-Genome is a ticking time bomb. One of the broadcasters asks if that is Lydia being racially prejudice. Lydia says that whatever people may call it, her organization is ready to protect the world from “Human Beings of Mass Destruction.”
Elsewhere, Kitty Pryde leads the X-Men, made up of Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Prestige (Rachel Grey’s new codename) and Old Man Logan, against Terrax (a genetically mutated alien who once worked for Galactus). Terrax causes the ground to start shaking and a building starts to collapse. Kitty acts quickly by ordering Storm and Prestige to take on Terrax while Colossus, Nightcrawler and Logan help her with the collapsing building.
While Storm and Prestige hold off Terrax, Nightcrawler teleports Kitty and Logan on top of the crumbling building. Kitty tells Logan to jump off the building and enter the tornado Storm has Terrax trapped in. Kitty then tells Nightcrawler to find and teleport anyone in the crumbling building outside.
Terrax finally breaks free from Storm’s tornado and is pissed that the X-Men think they can defeat him. Prestige quickly uses her powers to knock Terrax out with a boulder.
At the same time, Colossus struggles to keep the building from collapsing. Kitty finally has full control and phases the building through everything as it falls to the ground.
The X-Men regroup with Terrax now captured. A crowd starts to form around the X-Men. Kitty confronts the crowd to let them know she is the X-Men leader and ask them if they are all okay.
The crowd are scared to talk to the X-Men, with a woman stating they don’t know what to call the X-Men. Kitty says that they are just people like everyone else and that starting today they will do everything possible to rebuild the trust the X-Men once had with the world.
Sometime later, while the X-Men have a baseball game at Xavier Institute for Mutant Education and Outreach, now located in Central Park, Logan compliments Kitty on her leadership. Logan even mentions that he was wrong about X-Men baseball games being a waste of time.
Suddenly an official from the New York City Mayor’s office named Alex Sandstrom arrives to speak on the X-Men’s move to Central Park. Alex hands Kitty some official paperwork that includes an invoice for the first six months of their lease payments of the property. Kitty notices the invoice is for $18 million dollars. Alex reminds Kitty that the X-Men have taken up residence in one of the most valuable real estate property in the world. Logan offers to claw Alex.
Later that night Storm talks to Nightcrawler in the living room. Nightcrawler mentions how things continue to stay the same as things change. Storm quotes Magneto by saying “The past is prologue,” which makes Nightcrawler uncomfortable. Nightcrawler wonders what Storm really means by her words. Storm says that after all they’ve been through they are now returning to their roots as heroes.
Nightcrawler is surprised by how hopeful Storm sounds. Storm questions if Nightcrawler’s surprise means she hasn’t been positive lately. Nightcrawler brings up how Kitty mentioned Storm almost leaving the team. Storm goes over how she led the X-Men into a losing war. Nightcrawler tries to say that they didn’t lose but Storm asked if they really didn’t.
In the new Danger Room, Rachel is training with Armor and Rockslide. Rachel ends up saving Armor and Rockslide, ending the training session. Both young X-Men are impressed by Rachel’s ability. Rachel reminds the kids to call her Prestige. They ask Rachel why she choose a new codename. Rachel mentions that Kitty told her that “Phoenix” and “Marvel Girl” were codenames rooted in the past and to go with a new one in order to move forward. Armor says that from the looks of how things are going that is what Kitty wants from every X-Men.
In the headmistress office, Kitty is going over all the official paperwork, which is making her wish she was back with the Guardians of the Galaxy or stuck inside a bullet again. Kitty then remembers what Professor X taught her and finds strength in her experiences.
Peter suddenly walks into the office to talk with Kitty. Peter mentions that he ordered some Chicago-style pizza and was wondering if Kitty wanted to join him. Kitty turns Peter down since she knows Peter doesn’t want to just eat as friends. Peter says things are never easy between the two. Kitty says that though they love each other she needs to move on.
Rachel suddenly runs in to reveal that someone is attacking the city.
While getting ready to go out, Rachel asks Kitty if she interrupted anything. Kitty says she doesn’t want to talk about it even though she knows Rachel can read her mind. She then reminds Rachel about being able to solidify her hand inside Rachel’s head.
The two join the other X-Men. Storm informs Kitty that SHIELD has intel on a group of five people are currently attacking the United Nations building. The X-Men then head out in a new Blackbird.
The X-Men arrive in the Blackbird just above the UN building to find smoke coming out of the size. Nightcrawler teleports the team down. As soon as they get on the ground the new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (made up of Magma, Pyro, Avalanche, Masque and Seamus Mellencamp) greet them. End of issue.
The Good: X-Men: Gold #1 does exactly what it needed to do to help in the rebuilding process that the entire franchise is now going through following Inhumans vs X-Men. With each page Marc Guggenheim is able to check things off the box to make the heroic direction the X-Men are taking once again something that can be a success.
Relating the X-Men’s current direction with the whole racial divide and social justice warrior direction we are going through in our world was a smart decision. Like Batman, Superman and Spider-Man, the X-Men are one of the comic book franchises that go beyond the medium they were created in. The big reason for that is that at their core the X-Men represent all the struggles we go through in our lives from a fundamental social level that branches off to many day-to-day issues that unfortunately still exist.
Starting X-Men: Gold #1 off with the debate about what mutants are and following it up with Kitty Pryde’s speech is a great reflection of this. Because while the X-Men are now in a direction that takes them back to their heroic roots, the other goal of the team’s direction under Kitty’s leadership is for mutants to be seen as people. While they may have superpowers, at the end of the day mutants are just people and do not want to be treated as a group that is special.
Guggenheim is able to get that message across clearly throughout the rest of X-Men: Gold #1 by showing X-Men interacting and doing things together that we would all do with our friends or families in our daily lives. The baseball game is a great example of that as we see the X-Men just having fun together. Through this Guggenheim is also able to introduce some simple but complicated issues like Kitty having to deal with the X-Men’s new property bills that adds more of an common problem of bills that we all deal with to the series.
At the same time Guggenheim is also able to address the other important part of the X-Men’s heroic direction being about everyone on the team moving forward. Whether it’s Storm coming to terms with her time as leader leading to the war with the Inhumans or Rachel Grey changing her codename to Prestige, it is all about moving forward for the X-Men. All these little things help show how important it is for Kitty to keep the X-Men looking forward rather than back as a family.
X-Men: Gold #1 also does a good job in addressing the relationships shared between the core team for this series. Throughout this issue Guggenheim is able to show us different pairings and how relationships differ from pair to pair. This is best shown with Nightcrawler trying to keep Storms head up when she starts belittling herself for the war with the Inhumans. It’s a reminder that while the past won’t just be wiped out that this new team can get through their past if they work together.
Speaking of pairings, while short it was good to see Guggenheim address the relationship between Kitty and Peter. As much as this romantic relationship is a fan favorite it is not something either character needs to fall back into. Kitty being the one to turn Peter down showed Kitty’s own dedication to moving forward as she knows the relationship between the two would be to close to the past the X-Men are trying to move on from.
Bringing back the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants as antagonist is a great move. Just because the X-Men are working to re-establish themselves as heroes it does not mean all mutants need to be good. Having a group like the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, who aren’t related to the X-Men in any way, is good for the franchise. It goes to show that like the Avengers, just because you have powers does not mean you’ll be an automatic good guy. There will always be people who look to abuse their powers to gain something nefarious and putting the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in that spotlight is great for the overall direction the X-Men are now on.
Ardian Syaf delivers some great looking artwork for X-Men: Gold #1. Syaf makes this series look like the premiere X-Men title it should be seen as. Everything is crisp, from the attention to character’s facial expressions to the sequences where the X-Men’s wide array powers are on display. It was especially spectacular to see Kitty take use her powers to phase an entire falling building through another building. It was an impressive display that we haven’t gotten a lot of from Kitty and it goes to show how powerful she has become.
The Bad: The back-up explaining the history of the X-Men was not needed at all in this issue. More than anything the entire back-up came off as Marvel’s way of justifying adding an extra dollar to the price point to this issue. If Marvel really wants to include extra material save it for the eventual trade paperback, which is where content like this belongs. But to tack it onto the first issue just shows that Marvel is trying to nickle and dime readers out of money since it’s all content you can get from quickly reading the X-Men Wikipedia.
Overall: X-Men: Gold #1 is exactly what the franchise needed to show that it is returning to what made the X-Men such a beloved franchise. Marc Guggenheim showed great care to develop a layered story for the X-Men, with each cast member getting ample character development time. Though I wasn’t excited when ResurrXion was announced X-Men: Gold now has me looking forward for what comes next for the franchise.