REVIEW: X-Men Gold #1

My name is Bamfing Bob and I am a X-Men addict.

As such, I have been pretty disappointed lately. There has been no lack of X-Men related content in comics, but rather a lack of good content. You see, I fell in love with Claremont’s expression of the mutants, in that despite saving the world and even the universe on multiple occasions, they were still dynamic, growing characters who always strive to be good and whose relationships outweighed whatever crisis they dealt with. Their fun, friendly team always made X-Men the comic I wanted to read. Nightcrawler holds a special place in my heart and really personifies what being an X-Man means.

However, in the past few years, mutants have lacked appeal across the board, from underperforming in the Box Office compared to the MCU to playing second fiddle to the Inhuman surge. Not only that, but two separate wars with various hero groups and very bad publicity thanks to certain heroes gone bad has the X-Men in piss poor position to be on anyone’s Christmas list. They have had some nice moments, but the overall treatment has been backwards, convoluted, and infuriating for fans of the “good old days.”

Well ladies and gentlemen, I believe this is a new beginning.

There is so much redemptive about this single comic book that I’d be hard pressed to cover it all. Last week’s one shot called X-Men Prime set up Kitty Pryde to be to new leader of the Gold Team, but as good as that was, it still didn’t do this justice. The comic opens with her roster consisting of Old Man Logan, Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, and Rachel Grey under the new codename of Prestige fighting Terrax (remember him?) and trying save civilians from the collateral damage. The use of their powers is incredible, even by their standards, yet it is proven once again that their acts of heroism are for the benefit of those who hate and fear them. The rest of the comic contains very little action, instead focusing on what I mentioned before: each other. The mutants play some softball, Rachel addresses her name change, Ororo and Kurt discuss rising tensions against mutants, Kitty and Peter have residual romantic feelings, and Logan points out that being normal just isn’t normal for the X-Men. Oh, and Kitty is burdened with paying ridiculously high bills.

To say this is a breath of fresh air would be a big understatement. I’m seriously blown away by this comic because of the drastic tonal change in storytelling, plot, and art. Marc Guggenheim has had success as a writer for Legends of Tomorrow and other television shows, but this is his first time tackling the X-Men, to great success. In his letter to the fans at the end, he gives most credit to his editor Daniel Ketchum for guidance. Well, I don’t care who is responsible for the positive changes taking place, but from the bottom of my heart, thank you. Having Kitty give a public impromptu speech about being heroes again to gain the respect of humans was so touching, and the expressiveness of each mutant was so true to character that I believe 100% that he grew up reading the same X-Men I did and is as put off by recent events as I have been.

There is no comic without the art team, and without Adrian Syaf on pencils, this would not be as successful as it is. This is my very first time seeing his work, and I approve. He balances serious with super quite nicely. Faces are expressive and settings are realistic. The costumes are back to original too! There are some minor design changes, but this is a major improvement from what we saw in Extraordinary X-Men. Aside from a couple minor art gripes, I couldn’t be happier. Jay Leisten inks and Frank Martin colors, both to great success. I hope Frank reads this though, because I want him to know Nightcrawler has yellow eyes, not white. He seems to forget that at times.

The end of the comic has our X-Men facing a new iteration of evil mutants, which I believe is going to be essential to their success moving forward. Instead of fighting old villains, allies, or one-shot threats, this can mark an ongoing struggle between good and bad. It bodes quite well. There is also a several page recap spanning the entirety of X-Men history with a focus on our main characters, catching anyone who has never picked up an X-Men comic up to speed (it’s not too detailed, but it covers most bases). It’s dense, but I felt this was a move by Marvel to make sure the ResurrXion is not just for lifelong fans. Kudos to writer Mike O’Sullivan and designer Anthony Gambino for their efforts in including this. It did not go unnoticed.

So, what now? Well, since this will be a twice monthly comic, I am excited to read the next issue in only a couple of weeks. Along with Cullen Bunn’s X-Men Blue (also bi-monthly) releasing next week, I am certain my thirst for great comics will be quenched. More team and solo books are coming soon as well. I’m stoked.

X-Men Gold #1 is what fans have been waiting for. No crazy events. No end of the world circumstance. Just heroes being heroes when needed and enjoying down time when they can manage it. This is called “Back to the Basics” for a reason. I hope to see much more one on one moments between characters and unique usage of abilities and meaning behind the perpetual motion that is being a superhero team. As for this comic specifically though, I’d say it is a great start to what could be the best X-book in years.

Writing: 5 Stars
Art: 5 Stars
Colors: 4.5 stars
Overall: 4.8 out of 5 Stars

X-Men Gold #1
Story: Marc Guggenheim
Art: Ardian Syaf
Inks: Jay Leisten
Colors: Frank Martin
Letters: VC’s Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel

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