Marvel’s X-Men Gold is one of the several reboots of the X-Men comics following the fight between Inhumans and the X-Men.
The war and all the events preceding the conflict against the Inhumans proved to be extremely taxing on the X-Men (and fascinating for the readers); the stories were very entertaining and led to several and often traumatic changes to the leaders of the groups (including splitting the X-Men into at least two groups); there have been several “new old” characters time travelling and establishing their lives in our time (the old-new generation including Jean Grey and Scott Summers); and death has been a constant remind of the heartbreaking mortality of the X-Men (for instance, Professor X and Wolverine).
The stories all lead to the latest philosophy to the X-Men story telling. It might be even called a revival since the first story is called “Back to the Basics”. What does that mean, you might be asking yourself?
The X-Men are back to their original lore, discriminated and misunderstood by humans, yet fighting to their deaths to protect those who ostracise them against human and mutant threats alike (often both threats are overlapping). It is also interesting to read the letter written by author Marc Guggenheim at the end of the first instalment of the storyline. For instance, the “old-fashion” yet modern art by Adrian Syaf, Jay Leisten, and Frank Martin that has been chosen for this series is no accident, “we’re going back to go forward”, according to Marc Guggenheim.
Please be aware that from this moment on, the article will delve into spoilers so if you have not read the comic just yet, you might want to come back after you did!
So let’s dive into “Back to the Basics”!
This storyline has an incredibly challenging job by establishing how the X-Men are going back to basics. Hence, there is a fairly long, yet inspiring, preamble that sets the story, the location, and the background for this new phase of the X-Men.
In a nutshell: Anti-mutant bigot positions are extremely popular and there are people exploiting them to their (political) advantage. The Xavier Institute for Mutant Education and Outreach has relocated in Central Park (after having spent quite some time in the Limbo). The X-Men are still focusing on saving humans and mutants lives yet each member is going through significant changes or traumas to work through. The Brotherhood of Mutants is back to raise hell and complicate the X-Men’s (really of all mutants) position towards humans.
There is also a constant awareness of other powers working in the world at the same time, from reference to Avengers, Spider-Men (and women), to Captain America, which feels particularly refreshing and contemporary and helps with elevating the dialogues. It is also interesting to see why and how the X-Men are so different from the other enhanced Marvel heroes and it is striking how relatable and modern ostracism for being different really is. Also, in the best tradition of comics, the story is full of great fighting scenes which highlights strengths, weaknesses, powers, and interactions.
The story begins in a very powerful way—Lydia Nance, Director for the Heritage Initiative expresses her bigot opinion about mutants in a TV show, highlighting how dangerous mutants are. She also compares them with the other enhanced humans (for instance, Spider-Man and Asgardians) and how they should be singled out because of their X-genome that makes them HMD (no, not a fancy doctorate title, but it stands for humans of mass destruction).
Lydia Nance is going to be a constant presence in this storyline and her, at the very least, debatable statements will sparkle conversations at the X-Men mansion, both for the adults and for the younger mutants. Despite being a horrible woman (yes, expressing judgement against her and her positions), it is great to see that the X-Men are brought back to their original fights, starting by being misunderstood. It makes the X-Men who they are, including overcoming the prejudice and to help mankind as a whole.
The following full-page art really blows minds away: Kitty Pride, the new leader of the X-Men calling her X-Men to formation. Just an amazing moment in the X-Men history and the clear opening to a brand new chapter for the X-Men.
The team is made of beloved Marvel characters: Nightcrawler—it is so good to see him back in the main team; Colossus—whose presence is even more interesting in light of the romantic history between our favourite artistic Russian metal man and Kitty; Storm—who needs to work through significant confidence issues; Old Man Logan—if the “real” Logan died, the fans are not deprived of his unique fighting skills, caring, and dedication to mutants. He also guarantees extremely violent fighting scenes, which are his trademark. Prestige—the new codename of Rachel Grey, the daughter of Scott Summers and Jean Grey from the future who has a connection with the Phoenix force; and, as mentioned, Kitty Pride herself who just uses her full name while battling as an X-Men.
As a side note, the cover already provides a retro-feeling in terms of costumes the heroes are using. For instance, it is refreshing to see Storm using her classic costume or Kitty wearing the yellow and black uniform that distinguished her for so long.
It is worth mentioning and describing the first fight of the story, and the following interaction of the X-Men with the human at the scene, since it depicts the team in its entirety and the opinion that humans have of the X-Men. The fight takes place in New York—another classic X-Men aspect—and our heroes are facing with a terrible adversary, Terrax, who controls the earth and an immediate threat to the safety of innocents in the form of skyscraper falling on the city.
Under the expert command of Kitty, the interaction between Prestige and Storm, aided by Logan, allows to take Terrax to an air battle, while Nightcrawler, Colossus, and Kitty phase the skyscraper enabling the building to fall without consequences and casualties. Yet, the most empowering moment of the first instalment of the story is Kitty interacting with the (human) crowd making sure that they are well—and if her question is received with scepticism, mistrust, and a bit of cold indifference, it shows how the X-Men are just interested in the well-being of humankind. It also does not escape the X-Men that, unlike the treatment they just received, the Avengers would be acclaimed for performing the exact same job.
As mentioned in the introduction, the readers are not deprived of the original setting of the X-Men, a mansion that serves as a school and refuge for all the young, and old, mutants. In following Professor Xavier’s (also Cyclops, Wolverine and Storm) steps, Kitty is also the headmaster of the Xavier Institute for Mutant Education and Outreach. The school is going to be a constant presence throughout the story, providing continuity with the past, including classics such as Cerebro and the training room.
By the end of the first part of the story, we are actually provided with the “real” enemies of the storyline, the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (the addition of “Evil” to the original name is no accident, mind you!). The group is shockingly led by a former X-Men, Magma, and aided by Mesmero—a telepathic mutant who has always provided support to the dark side; Avalanche; Pyro—who you might remember in the X-Men movies as the friend of Bobby turned evil by Magneto; Masque—a warlock; and a non-identified lizard-like creature who does not have a name or any ability to speak any language known to the X-Men. This last character will be going to play a role also in the later instalments of the X-Men Gold stories.
The “Back to the Basics” story is fairly intricate, providing some twists and turns, interesting developments in the story that will keep you glued to the comics and wanting for more. It is also worth noting that the new start of the X-Men does not “forget” prior events, providing continuity and setting extremely important steps in the characters’ development in “Back to the Basics” and future instalments.
Paying respect to the original source material, the series also focuses on the traditional struggles of being a mutant, for instance the need for normal that according to Logan is gold. It also offers interesting dialogue, not only showing the characters’ state of mind but also where the X-Men are going.
A great example for this is the dialogue between Kurt and Ororo, suggesting she is facing inner demons (having led the X-Men into a war against the Inhumans) yet hoping that the X-Men are going back to their roots: being heroes. Kitty having to deal with Piotr’s feelings for her and an invoice for a total of 18 million USD for rent in Central Park; Prestige working on her powers in the danger room with other young and beloved mutants such as Santo, working their way into the X-Men ranks.
Let’s also not forget the action scenes, with Logan being a pillar for sheer violence in his fights against the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and against the X-Men when Mesmero controls his mind which allows for some great action scenes of Logan versus Santo, and then Santo’s hilarious commentary to the situations he is in.
Have you read this comic? What do you think about their return to the origins? :et us know your thoughts in the comments below!