Comics

'X-men Gold #1': Give Peace and Understanding a Chance

The Xmen's powers and their conflicts are like the weather. Sometimes they're like a simple gust of wind. Sometimes, a full-blown, not peaceful at all hurricane.


Adrian Syaf

X-men Gold

Publisher: Marvel
Price: $4.99
Writer: Marc Guggenheim
Publication date: 2017-04-05
Amazon

Every era of X-men is defined by an eclectic mix of situational quirks, new uniforms, and reshuffled lineups. Sometimes the Xavier Mansion, or whatever base of operations the X-men happen to be operating out of at the time, blows up along the way. In any case, these eras usually have definitive traits that set them apart. More than any other franchise, the X-men find unique ways to make eras distinct from one another.

The '70s had the All-New, All-Different lineup with fresh faces, new threats, and Chris Claremont's knack for creating over-powered, reality-warping threats. The '80s had X-Factor and Uncanny X-men, the original five X-men and an emerging generation of X-men that would one day make Hugh Jackman a superstar. The '90s had the Jim Lee-inspired costumes, two main X-men teams, and an uncanny tendency to make any and all issues in the Marvel universe a mutant issue by default.

These generations stand out in their own way, some more than others, thanks to iconic art, iconic stories, or whatever non-so-iconic gimmicks slipped through the cracks. By these standards, it's hard to assess the current generation of X-men comics because a great many of those not-so-iconic gimmicks came to define the series. From sterilization plots to a glut of time travelers, it's hard to define this era as all that iconic.

This is why X-men Gold #1 is so vital to current and future generations of X-men. Marc Guggenheim and Adrian Syaf have a golden opportunity, if that's not too loaded a word, to redefine the X-men for a new era, hopefully, one that relies less on sterilization, time travelers, and clones. That opportunity never feels wasted as the story that unfolds forges multiple paths into a new era.

The X-men enter this era with a more tarnished reputation than usual. It's not enough that they're mutants, a loaded word that generates the kind of reaction usually reserved for internet trolls and spam email. They're mutants who recently went to war with the Inhumans and didn't exactly conduct themselves in a respectable manner.

They can blame Cyclops, Emma Frost, and fake news all they want. It doesn't change the fact that the X-men come into X-men Gold #1 as those mutants who have gone to war with two separate superhero teams already and didn't exactly come out looking like polished adamantium. That's not a good foundation for peace and understanding. At this point, the public is more inclined to give Victor Von Doom a chance than the X-men.

Kitty Pryde, the X-men's new leader and arbiter of this new era, goes out of her way to acknowledge this in the X-men's battle against Terrax. She rightly points out that if another superhero team had fought this battle, they would be getting smiles, cheers, and positive hashtags. Unfortunately, they're mutants. They're still associated with starting wars, screwing with timelines, and one too many clones. In a city that already deals with Spider-Man's clones, the public is right to be unhappy.

It's the most important feature to the story in X-men Gold #1, as well as the overall theme of the X-men comics moving forward. For years now, they've given the public way too many reasons not to trust them the same way they do other superhero teams. Beyond warring with other superhero teams, mutants are a constant source of chaotic. Regardless of whether or not they put on costumes and try to be superheroes, their powers and their conflicts are like the weather. Sometimes they're like a simple gust of wind. Sometimes, a full-blown hurricane.

It's one of those understated, but inescapable aspects about the X-men that sets them apart from other superhero teams. No matter how much good they try to do, the X-men are still mutants, and mutants are a chaotic force of nature. People fear that chaos for the same reason that they fear hurricanes.

Guggenheim doesn't hide from this distinction that keeps the X-men from being adored like the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, or whatever other superhero team doesn't have its movie rights tied up by another studio. By acknowledging it, the new host of challenges the X-men face feel genuine.

X-men Gold #1 throws multiple challenges at the X-men from the get-go. Some are of the personal kind. Some are of the kind that require Kitty Pryde to phase a collapsing building through another. The mix of personal issues and public spectacles is very much the gold standard, so to speak, of what gives the X-men their appeal. After so much of their stories have been mired by extinction and sterilization plots, it's a welcome reprieve.

While the themes are refreshing for any jaded X-men fan, the structure of the story is somewhat choppy. The narrative jumps around from moment to moment, rushing through various scenes without taking the time to tie them together in a cohesive way. This makes the story feel rushed. There are many moments, especially the personal moments for Kitty Pryde, which don't get as much depth as they need. It makes X-men Gold #1 feel like one of those comics that needs to be at least ten pages longer to really work.

Despite the inconsistencies in the story's progression, it's still a satisfying story that offers overdue promise to cast of characters that badly needs it. There's no more fending off extinction, avoiding poison gas clouds, or getting mixed up with one too many cosmic forces. This is just the X-men fighting for peace and understanding in a world that has plenty of legitimate reasons not to give them another chance.

It's the same fight that Charles Xavier led the X-men into back in the days before civil rights was more than just a hashtag. Kitty Pryde and her revamped, revitalized team of X-men, one of which is her ex-boyfriend, carry on that fight in X-men Gold #1 after one too many interludes. It gives hope that the X-men are back to doing what they do best, provided nobody gets sterilized again.

7

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less
Culture

Net Neutrality and the Music Ecosystem: Defending the Last Mile

Still from Whiplash (2014) (Photo by Daniel McFadden - © Courtesy of Sundance Institute) (IMDB)

"...when the history books get written about this era, they'll show that the music community recognized the potential impacts and were strong leaders." An interview with Kevin Erickson of Future of Music Coalition.

Last week, the musician Phil Elverum, a.k.a. Mount Eerie, celebrated the fact that his album A Crow Looked at Me had been ranked #3 on the New York Times' Best of 2017 list. You might expect that high praise from the prestigious newspaper would result in a significant spike in album sales. In a tweet, Elverum divulged that since making the list, he'd sold…six. Six copies.

Keep reading... Show less

Under the lens of cultural and historical context, as well as understanding the reflective nature of popular culture, it's hard not to read this film as a cautionary tale about the limitations of isolationism.

I recently spoke to a class full of students about Plato's "Allegory of the Cave". Actually, I mentioned Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" by prefacing that I understood the likelihood that no one had read it. Fortunately, two students had, which brought mild temporary relief. In an effort to close the gap of understanding (perhaps more a canyon or uncanny valley) I made the popular quick comparison between Plato's often cited work and the Wachowski siblings' cinema spectacle, The Matrix. What I didn't anticipate in that moment was complete and utter dissociation observable in collective wide-eyed stares. Example by comparison lost. Not a single student in a class of undergraduates had partaken of The Matrix in all its Dystopic future shock and CGI kung fu technobabble philosophy. My muted response in that moment: Whoa!

Keep reading... Show less
Books

'The Art of Confession' Ties Together Threads of Performance

Allen Ginsberg and Robert Lowell at St. Mark's Church in New York City, 23 February 1977

Scholar Christopher Grobe crafts a series of individually satisfying case studies, then shows the strong threads between confessional poetry, performance art, and reality television, with stops along the way.

Tracing a thread from Robert Lowell to reality TV seems like an ominous task, and it is one that Christopher Grobe tackles by laying out several intertwining threads. The history of an idea, like confession, is only linear when we want to create a sensible structure, the "one damn thing after the next" that is the standing critique of creating historical accounts. The organization Grobe employs helps sensemaking.

Keep reading... Show less
9
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image