After a classically X-Men political issue where Kitty Pride and Colossus head to D.C. to testify against a bill that would deport all mutants from the United States, X-Men Gold: En’Kane Part one brings us to Russia to deal with the newly resurrected Omega Red. X-Men Gold features an expanded second wave of X-Men that hits many nostalgic buttons for fans from the late 80s and early 90s and this issue is no different. This means that, despite the issue being a little predictable, it is still an enjoyable read and this issue sets up a story that could up the stakes in a very good way.
The issue starts with a Russian girl running from someone and we know exactly who she is running from as soon as we see two carbonadium tentacles brutally stab into her. As if a mutant serial killer super soldier wasn’t scary enough, this reveal of Omega Red reminds us what he is capable of. It is revealed that his resurrection is only temporary thereby forcing him to use his mutant abilities to keep himself alive. This slight twist on him having to use his ability to absorb life force to stay alive does indeed make him feel like a more menacing character than before. It is exactly this kind of attention to what made the older series work that keeps this run fun. Another example is the focus on the relationship between Kitty Pride and Colossus. This is a ship that many fans enjoy and there is an almost Greek chorus like effect to see other characters around them have reactions similar to our own when the relationship becomes visible. It is important to note that these moments appear to be authentic in context instead of simply pandering to the fanbase.
All is not perfect though. Marc Muggenheim’s writing feels more than a little color by numbers: because Omega Red is back in play thanks to some magical mobsters, of course, Colossus and Magik return to Russia. Still, this use of the storyline to determine the main characters that are featured is the way that X-Men should be written regardless of how expected it is. Artists Lan Medina and Jay Leisten sometimes create an awkward body shape that is just distracting, but they do mostly very good work with Omega Red looking particularly great. Similarly, letterer Cory Petit nails Nightcrawler with purple “BAMF”s to show where he appears and reappears. The inclusion of Russian and the color red in the dialogue boxes etc are also a nice thematic touch. Finally, colorist Frank Martin makes sure each mutant ability gets a similar highlight in a different color giving the issue a sense of cohesion. Personally, I would prefer to see a little more variation, but that’s me.
Overall, this issue is not the most exciting or ground breaking, but it should still prove to be enjoyable for old fans and new fans alike. More than anything, this makes me want to read the next issue and that is what a comic should do. By Lenin’s Ghost, this should continue to be an exemplary run. Four stars!
(W) Marc Guggenheim (A) Lan Medina (CA) Ken Lashley