X-Men Gold #11
Writer: Marc Guggenheim
Penciler: Lan Medina
Colorist: Frank Martin
Publisher: Marvel Comics
What You Need to Know:
Omega Red has returned but the clock is ticking. In order to achieve a permanent resurrection, he needs the arcane power of Magik. His cult, the magic wielding Pakhan, have set a trap to lure both Rasputin siblings and X-Men Gold into a trap in which Omega Red will attain his two primary goals. The first being a renewed lease on life, and the second, the death of the X-Men.
What You’ll Find Out:
The gold team fell for the trap. The Pakhan have Magik, their intended target all along. A plan is quickly set into motion where again, Kitty’s team will lie in wait for the perfect opportunity to strike. Colossus acts as the seemingly powerless hostage in which he will sacrifice himself in exchange for his sister’s freedom. Before long both sides recognize deception. Peter engages the leader Komolov after he reveals Magik’s location with the aid of Nightcrawler. Meanwhile Kitty, Logan, Storm, and Prestige face Omega Red, In the end, both teams achieve narrow victories.
What Just Happened?
Even as a die hard X-Men fan of nearly 30 years who continues to purchase this particular title purely out of loyalty and support of the brand, the gaping plot holes, the one-dimensional stories, and errors in continuing are simply too large for even the most devote to ignore and continues to plague the book as it flails about, desperately seeking a foothold. With this many powerhouse characters in one title, each with their own massive fan bases in one book, X-Men Gold proves that nostalgia has its limits even in a book so stacked it should be an effortless home run for any writer. Whereas its sister title, X-Men Blue hosts the core original five exploring the premise of a cast rebooted via time travel and entirely shrugs off their fundamental attributes and traits would naturally test the tolerance and charity of established fans who grew up with their forebearers, Gold has no such excuses. It is emotionally wrenching to watch the weak, implausible writing of Marc Guggenheim as he systematically mutilates the title in one issue after the next.
Gold is indeed a divisive title in which you will either love or hate with little room left in the middle for most fans. Beyond the obsessive focus on Kitty Pryde and her summarily irrelevant supporting cast, X-Men Gold doesn’t have the qualities that blue does by exploring new ground and revisiting characters adored by fans from numerous timelines, or provide Astonishing’s intriguing theories and maturity with its own popular roster. Even Weapon X, which is heavily centered on claws, guns, and explosions boasts a far more convincing dialog and narrative which eclipses Gold’s awkwardness and downright irresponsibility.
Guggenheim doesn’t seem to have any supervision as he pens work that literally makes no sense. Magik is limbo’s sorceress supreme and even though her abilities are still somewhat hampered here on earth, she should have had no issue in dealing with even the foremost mage among the group. However, Guggenheim disregards the fatality in which her soul sword kills magical beings in one swipe and makes her an inexplicable prisoner who is entirely impotent for all her vaunted power that Omega Red so desperately needs.
Beyond that glaring offense, Guggenheim provides no rationale to support why Illyana’s eldrich armor, instinctively activated by the presence of magical threat, is entirely absent. Conversely, Colossus’s mutant steel transformation ability returns with no explanation at all, but further still resists all magical attack where it has only possessed the ability to do so before on marginal levels and always aided by his sister in that regard. By all rights, Magik could and should have soloed this entire fight.
The fight between Kitty, Logan, Storm, Prestige, and Omega Red is not only entirely illogical but categorically absurd. Omega Red endures a full assault of the combined abilities of all four X-Men with no ill effect whatsoever. Shortly after one lightning strike from Storm, she is next seen unconscious on the ground with no precipitating reason. There she is, lying there, just because. Prestige, Guggenheim’s supremely powerful telepath, yet again is rebuffed with no justification and down she goes. Kitty unloads a full clip after grabbing an assault rifle which he seems to take no injury whatsoever. Finally, Omega Red is defeated by a singular stab of Wolverine’s claws through his carbonadium armor which finally gives way simply because the remaining pages of the issue begin to dwindle.
The overall problem with the entire conflict and story is that Guggenheim either isn’t aware of O.R.’s abilities and attributes or simply doesn’t care. Omega Red has always been a one note, negligible villain but throughout the fight seems virtually immune to all attacks. Yet the fight concludes swiftly by one last strike by Logan. If his life draining abilities were in use, he would have healed from any attack including the one from Logan which ended the skirmish. Instead the lackluster conclusion occurs simply because Guggenheim wants to make a point that Logan will always defeat Omega Red, because he just does. I have no better way of explaining it, and apparently neither does Marc Guggenheim.
The blunders don’t end there. In a world in which movies understandably adapt and alter stories because of time restrictions, character rights, and other legalities, many fans launch constant insult toward offenders like Bryan Singer who is often accused of never having read an X-Men comic book. Whether that is true or not, Guggenheim actually writes one, yet perhaps is equally as ignorant and careless which makes it even more unforgivable. In one panel, Kitty declares “I don’t speak Russian, but how do you say… Choke on this.”
Actually Gugg’s, yes, she does know how to speak Russian. Her best friend is a Russian demon sorceress who learned to speak the language and has done so multiple times since Illyana’s introduction in the early 80’s. I rolled my eyes so hard, my retinas became detached. It seems like fact checkers are needed in more than just the oval office.
Oh, and what ever happened to Magma and the New Brotherhood? You know what, just never mind…
Final Thought: The optimist in me wanted to believe that just when you thought a story couldn’t get any worse, the only direction to go would be upward. Unfortunately, the cynical side of me was indeed correct. Issue #11 doesn’t just sink to new lows, it plummets with deafening sound as it hits every single branch in ugly tree on the way down.