X-Men Gold #10 Review
Writer: Marc Guggenheim
Penciler: Lan Medina
Colorist: Frank Martin
Publisher: Marvel Comics
What You Need to Know:
The Russian Mafia has secured the remains of an old X-Men foe from the Hand for purposes yet to be revealed. Omega Red is back but is on bought time.
What You’ll Find Out:
Well into the evening of poker, snacks, and kicking back, the relaxing atmosphere is interrupted when Colossus receives a surprise telephone call. An uncle he never knew reaches out to warn him that the Bratva have revived Omega Red and appeals to Piotr’s sense of patriotism by forewarning him that his beloved homeland will surely suffer. Illyana has always had an uncanny knack for suspecting the worst and though she doesn’t buy into the same concept of family loyalty her brother does, she decides to accompany his team to Russia.
Anatoly greets the siblings as the X-Men stand watch and provides an account of how the former soviet super soldier was revived by the application of black arts and is sustaining his renewed existence by way of utilizing his mutant ability which allows his vampiric death factor to sap the life force of others. It’s not long before the gang of Bratva mages move in. The battle is swift with the Gold team emerging unscathed, all except Magik who was the real target all along.
What Just Happened?
So far Gold’s ResurreXion hasn’t delivered on the promise of a return to more glorious times for the fan base. In my opinion, far from it. The unfortunate clumsiness of Guggenheim’s plots and make it difficult to distinguish which out of the 10-issue volume rank in any given order.
The 10th issue of X-Men Gold shares the same fundamental flaws as the majority of the run in the sense that events are not laid organically nor are they executed with the significant prowess of a professional writer’s skill or proficiency. There is a great deal of happenstance that occurs a little too often. Events are disjointed and transitions are awkward. Issue #10 may just be the biggest offender.
Guggenheim still clearly desires to explore interpersonal relationships, however those interludes in this issue are brief. Where present the interchanges seem obligatory in nature and the result is overly melodramatic and unnecessary. Colossus and Kitty have been romantically linked before and it’s not overly surprising that a writer may use Gold as a vehicle to revisit what many people can relate to in real life, a rekindled romance. However, the seemingly all-consuming fixation the rest of the X-Men continually observe and remark on comes off as disingenuous. For their perspective ages, (whatever that actually is really is anyone’s guess,) to have such invested interest comes off as something that would be more appropriate in a teen book such as Generation X as opposed to one that focuses on adults who have roles of significant responsibility. There is also some discord with the portrayal of Old Man Logan in Gold versus other books in which he is featured. In Weapon X he is far more blasé faire while interacting with his charges and age seems to given him a sense of respect for boundaries. Here in gold that trait seems ignored.
Magik’s sudden appearance comes literally out of nowhere and given the premise seems highly suspect that she’s present at the exact moment a long-lost uncle calls a landline from Russia. Maybe the X-Men are listed when you dial 411? Remember that her appearances have been fairly reduced and was last seen in Secret Warriors. Her transition from New Tian to the school is left unexplained and wouldn’t have taken much effort to somehow provide a clean tie-in which places her there for a purpose.
When I found out that Magik would be making an appearance in the coming issue of Gold my inner New Mutant squealed in delight. Arguably the most powerful of her companions and perhaps of the entire X-Men roster I thought this was going to be an issue featuring her at the top of the game. Serving as a semi recent avatar for the Phoenix granted her enhanced power and when she is allowed to display her real potential it’s absolutely glorious! Not so fast. Twice now in her most recent appearances she has been relegated to a “C grade” mutant by writers. First was the horrendous depiction when aiding Shaw, Boom Boom, and other “expendable” mutants in Secret Warriors and now here in issue #10. In this issue, with all the X-Men keeping vigilance, a meager semi proficient group of mages appear out of nowhere.
Let’s back up for a moment, shall we? Guggenheim just spent the better part of the past 4 issues insisting that Prestige is truly a heavy hitter telepath for the X-Men despite the constant wax and wane writers have done with her abilities throughout the better part of the past decade. But Guggenheim insists that we’re beyond that now. Storm is in the sky looking down from the 30,000-foot level, Old Man Logan has his sniffer, and the rest are at their peak awareness. Yet none of them seem to have an inkling these baseline casters were even coming let alone that meeting in a dark abandoned railroad station is almost certainly a trap. Plausibility turns to horror and then to frustrated anger as the battle unfolds. No doubt the X-Men emerge victorious, but with absolutely no explanation as to how Magik, the ruler of Limbo, likely the most powerful and versatile of the X-Men’s mutant teleporters with ability to abscond through both space and time, who has averted capture from foes far more powerful for decades is subdued by apprentice level wizards.
Let’s put this into perspective. We are talking about the girl who has defeated the demon sorcerer Belasco on at least two prior occasions. At the height of her early power she unleashed Inferno upon Manhattan in an event which demons invaded the mortal realm of Earth. Though not exactly the same Magik, this recreated version then went on to defeat the elder gods, received a portion of the Phoenix, increased in power, battled the Scarlet Witch and Dormammu and for some undisclosed period became the disciple of Doctor Strange. When I flipped the last few pages I simply blinked a few times in disbelief. This is now the second time in only a few months a writer has ignored cannon and demoted her very identity, what she represents to the readership and those who actually know about her past and really X-Men history. The gaffe is outrageous, unacceptable, and prolific.
Art provided by Lan Medina is palatable, but only just.
The one positive is that at least for this issue, readers like myself who have been suffering from fatigue due to the overwhelming focus on Kitty Pryde are given a reprieve, however brief that may be.
Final thought: The introduction of this entire story including Anatoly and the abysmal depiction of Magik is not only absurd but is a hollow attempt at presenting Omega Red with some level of relevance. In a market of numerous publishers where there are so many other genuinely well written and thought-provoking titles, I am honestly ashamed that this type of rendering is permitted in one of Marvel’s most lucrative and premier titles. Marc Guggenheim is sorely testing the limits of my loyalty to the X-Men brand.