X-Men Gold was meant to be the flagship X-Men title for Marvel when it launched last April. However, since the return of Jean Grey made way for X-Men Red and the consistently average nature of Gold, the series has lost that mantle while struggling to make a case for why it is still around- which explains the new “Til Death Do Us Part” arc culminating in Kitty and Colossus’s wedding. Part three hits shelves this week in X-Men Gold #28, a refreshingly entertaining entry that manages to add some serious weight to its main villain while providing standout moments for Kitty Pryde.
What makes this issue so entertaining despite the light action is the witty banter throughout. I’ve been pretty critical of the stale dialogue in past issues, but I happily found no such problem here. I remember multiple lines giving me a good chuckle or putting a smile on my face.
Nightcrawler in particular has some funny moments while piloting a borrowed Alpha Flight spaceship and Iceman takes some solid digs at Pyro in the book’s beginning. Even the more corny dialogue feels perfectly in-line for the character speaking, leaving little room for disdain.
Artist Michele Bandini takes over on pencils for #28 and his work is not unnoticed. There’s much more emphasis placed on conveying emotion in characters’ facial expressions and posture allowing the art to add emotional depth to certain scenes. Bandini tactically forgoes backgrounds in certain panels in order to highlight tension, disdain, or suspense during certain scenes that truly make a difference in the reading experience.
A similar tactic is applied to the fight sequence, allowing the reader to follow the action easier. When the skirmish begins, Bandini draws the full scene complete with background elements and multiple characters, but when the action draws to a close he caps each fight with more classic panels that feature just the hero and their enemy on a rushed, color background. This style helps give each fight a bit more intensity while adding a real sense of impact and finality to finishing blows.
The true shining stars here are the opposed characters at the center of the narrative- renowned bigot Lydia Nance and Gold team leader Kitty Pryde. Last issue I called Nance an underwhelming villain, but I am happy eat my words after this issue.
In just a few short pages, Nance exemplifies the extent of her hatred for mutants in moments that will make readers shiver from just how cold she is. She speaks of genocide as if it’s the right thing to do while effortlessly writing mutants off as “inhumane” in truly unsettling ways. If readers weren’t shaken by Nance before, they certainly will be now.
Kitty Pryde also has some stellar moments in #28 that reinforce her position as team leader. One such moment came during a confrontation with Nance in which Rachel Summers offered to psychicly knock out Nance- but Kitty opts to cold cock the bigot instead. Violence isn’t always the right answer, but some people just deserve to be punched in the face. Nance is one of those people, so watching Kitty take her down is oh-so-satisfying.
Not only does Kitty punch a genocidal racist in the face, she manages to save the entire team from their impending doom through an impressive use of her powers. While pursuing the imprisoned Colossus in space, the team’s vessel is struck with a missile sending them hurtling uncontrollably to a nearby space station. In an impressive display of quick thinking and leadership, Kitty phases the entire ship into the station to land smoothly. After watching Kitty Pryde question her efficacy as a leader just a few issues ago, a moment like this where she truly shines is a welcome sight that reminds readers why she’s in charge.
The biggest detractor of #28 is Storm, who is once again wielding the Stormcaster hammer. While this does make for a pretty stellar moment later in the issue, this Asguardian-eque look for Storm looks awfully derivative of Jane Foster Thor, like a poor attempt to copy Jane’s look after her death. When in this outfit, Storm barely looks like an X-Man, especially when juxtaposed with her killer new look unveiled for X-Men Red. She also suffers from some rather clunky, stiff dialogue throughout the book.
It’s been a rocky road for the X-Men Gold squad and its readers lately with the departure of Old Man Logan, a “Mojoworld” crossover, fascist aliens from alternate dimensions, and a quick prison stint. Recent issues have been slightly better, but still haven’t been more than above average. That’s what makes X-Men Gold #28 so refreshing, it’s a return to form for the struggling series with entertaining moments throughout that exemplify the evil within the villain and the leadership within the heroine.
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