Eric Bradach's The Comixalaxy

X-Men Gold: Vol. 1
Writer: Marc Guggenheim
Artists: Ardian Syaf & R.B. Silva
Colorist: Frank Martin
Inkers: Jay Leisten & Adriano Di Benedetto
Letterers: Corey Petit
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: 08/23/2017

The X-Men have moved the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters to Central Park in New York City. Leg by Kitty Pryde, she takes the reins and assembles a squad of some fan favorites: Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Old Man Logan, and Rachel Summers, who now goes by the name Prestige. In their first outing in the new flagship X-Men series, X-Men Gold, the team on a mission to defend those who hate and fear them from a newly formed Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. It's back to familiar ground as writer Marc Guggenheim launches this new series in Back to the Basics.

There's been a strong consensus among comic book fans in recent years that Marvel Comics' X-Men franchise has seen better days. Sure, the mutants have had ups and downs throughout the years, which is no surprise given the plethora of ongoing X-Men series there'd be at a time. However, this one is particularly interesting because of the editorial influence implications.

Because Marvel Studios doesn't have the cinematic license to produce X-Men movies—currently held by 20th Century Fox—many speculate that they are downplaying the series out of spite. I won't go into whether I think it's true, but I will say that if it were, it'll be a real shame because it's a franchise that got many comic book fans—myself included—into the medium.

So people were excited when Marvel announced ResurrXion, which was a relaunch of the franchise in various new series, including X-Men Gold. I stayed away from reading it month-to-month when it was released in April and waited for the first trade-paperback, released in late August, to read the series, which collects the first six issues. However, I never got around to reading it until now because of the mediocre to negative reviews it received. Unfortunately, they're largely right.

The book is by no means awful, but for Marvel to have this as the flagship series for its X-Men relaunch is severely disappointing.

I've always been a Kitty Pryde fan, and I don't think there's ever been a better representation of her than in Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men series. She was strong and assertive, but a friendly and optimistic character who never delved away from everyday human drama like dealing with her ex-boyfriend Colossus. But in Marc Guggenheim's X-Men Gold, she comes off as an irritated know-it-all who lacks empathy. It's bizarre and off-putting.

There's also some poor attempts at humor and really cringeworthy one-liners that are meant to be strong points to establish the books identity. At the end of the third issue, the X-Men take down an adversary whose been working behind the scenes against them. After the X-Men defeat them, the villain tells the team, "You're pathetically naive. Who do you think you are, after all?" To which Kitty Pryde replies, "We're the X-Men." Really? That's the big one-liner the three-issue story arc goes out on?

The rest of the characters aren't treated to favorably either. Storm, Colossus, and Nightcrawler don't get much attention. Old Man Logan like Kitty Pryde is out of character. The one redeemable member in this new team is Rachel Summers, who as mentioned earlier, has taken a new code name Prestige.

She addresses why she's taken on the new identity with a brad new costume, which is decent at best, and describes how she is trying to separate herself as the daughter of her infamous parents; Scott Summers and Jean Grey/Summers. There's potential there for the future, and it's appreciative because this is a character who has been kept largely in the background in the X-Men books despite her powerful assets, such as telepathy, telekinesis, and chronoskimming; the ability to temporarily transplant another's mind and send it through time into a younger/older version, a close ancestor/descendant, or as a disembodied astral form.

I won't go into the controversy behind the artwork in the series, but it too is uneven and mediocre at best. There's nothing necessarily wrong with it, it just doesn't stand out, elevate the book, or make up for the uneven characterizations of the X-Men.

Verdict: X-Men Gold vol. 1, Back to the Basics, is not what X-Men fans were looking for. The characterization leaves a sour taste for the majority of the members and the dialogue is awkwardly unpleasant. The artwork doesn't hurt the book, but it doesn't do anything to uplift it either. Aside from a providing some nice potential character development for Rachel Summers, this book is a disappointment that I can't recommend.

Score: 2 out of 5

Written by Eric Bradach

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