Welcome to X-Men: Bland Design, the weekly column that answers the question: “What if Ed Piskor had no art skills, a juvenile sense of humor, and less classic material to work with?” This week there are
six five X-Books on the stands, which will cost you a total of $25 $21 to buy and, thanks to modern decompression techniques, take roughly ten minutes to read (if you read slowly). If that seems like a waste of time and money, you can keep your money by reading our recaps for free. We make no promises about the use of your time, however.
X-Books on sale this week include Rogue and Gambit #2, Spider-Man vs. Deadpool #27 (why is there a Spider-Man/Deadpool comic?), Iceman #10, X-Men Gold #21, and X-Men Red #1.
Additionally, Venom #161 crosses over with X-Men Blue for the Poison X event, so we’ll be covering that as well. Let’s see what’s happening in X-Men Gold.
X-Men Gold #21
Writer: Marc Guggenheim
Penciller: Diego Bernard
Inker: JP Mayer
Colorist: Arif Prianto
Letterer: Cory Petit
Cover: Mike Deodato Jr. and Nolan Woodard
We were pretty hard on the previous issue of X-Men Gold, which saw Kitty propose to Peter in a moment that should have been highly emotional, but fell flat due to the generally poor, storyboard-like pacing of this series. But it’s a new story arc, so let’s try to keep an open mind.
This new issue opens with a flashback to a few months ago of Mesmero, posing as Professor Xavier, recruiting his version of Pyro to his version of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants from earlier in the series. Flash forward to the present and Mesmero, “Pyro,” and “Avalanche” are in jail in the mutant prison “The Box,” and they’re pretty angry with him. Mesmero says he’s not to blame, though. They should be looking for revenge on corrupt politician Lydia Nance, who was behind the whole thing. Mesmero says he can break them out of prison because he’s hacked his power dampening collar. Pyro and Avalanche follow Mesmero, who bewitches the guards into letting them walk right out the door.
In Central Park, Storm catches Old Man Logan trying to leave the X-Men without saying goodbye. He says he’s old and weak and he wants to take a trip to Canada and Japan. Plus, he needs to make room for the original Wolverine, who should be making his way back to the X-books in a couple of months. They hug goodbye. Inside the mansion, Kurt and Kitty find Rachel doing cosplay of herself back in her hound days in a Danger Room simulation of a post-apocalyptic future. Normal X-Men stuff.
Spiffy, Rachel. Meanwhile, at an abandoned warehouse, Pyro and Avalanche are getting dressed in their costumes while pondering their choices. Mesmero agrees with them that he could be manipulating them right now. Back in the Danger Room, Kitty is concerned with Rachel’s fashion choices, but Kurt asks Kitty to give them some privacy so they can talk about it as boyfriend and girlfriend. Kurt is worried for Rachel too, but she she’s she feels more alive than ever.
On a riverboat part on the Hudson River, Mesmero, Pyro, and Avalanch attack Lydia Nance. Back at the X-Mansion, Kitty is tempted not to intervene since Nance runs an anti-mutant think tank, but a mutant’s gotta do what a mutant’s gotta do. Amara is there, looking for some revenge on Mesmero for that whole Brotherhood thing. Kitty is a little bit concerned about bringing Rachel and Amara onto the battlefield, but we need some drama in this issue, so she agrees to let them come.
Back on the boat, Pyro doesn’t want to kill Nance, so Avalanche is about to do the honors when the X-Men arrive. Of course, Amara goes right for Mesmero and there’s a huge lava explosion. Partygoers begin recording the mutant battle on their cellphones while expressing anti-mutant racist sentiments. Mesmero senses that something is different about Rachel, and he’s able to use it to mind-attack her. All of a sudden, the rest of the X-Men were defeated off-panel, leaving only Kitty, whose powers Mesmero has blocked. Pyro and Avalanche restrain her while the issue ends with a “to be continued…”
This issue served to set up the new status quo following the previous story arc and still managed to contain some action, leaving the X-Men in a bad place with the cliffhanger. It’s an improvement over the previous issue, and with Kitty and Peter’s wedding looking like a big focal point for the X-books in the near future, we’re going to be stuck with this title in the forefront for a while. If it can maintain the passable quality of this issue for the next few months, we’ll be satisfied.