Here it is, the debut of Geekfinity’s comic book review feature/column It Came From the Longbox! Each entry will feature one to multiple reviews of comic books or graphic novels. These reviews will cover both brand new released comics as well as comics from the past that we’re looking to spotlight/recommend. To kick start this feature we’ll be starting off with the beginning of Marvel’s ResurrXion relaunch with X-Men Gold #1!
X-Men Gold #1
By Marc Guggenheim, Adrian Syaf, Jay Leisten, Frank Martin & Cory Petit
Rating: 8 out of 10
“The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
This phrase was uttered a few times in this first regular issue of the ResurrXion era (once partly in Russian), and it pairs perfectly with the story arc title “Back to the Basics.” Together the phrase & title perfectly describe the essence of this issue, wiping the slate clean while calling back to the past, which is what made the entire thing so enjoyable.
With the Inhuman war & extinction behind them, the X-Men have entered a brand new era that in many ways feels like picking up a comic from the older days of the characters. That is a welcome thing overall, because for many years there was a cloud (not the Terrigan mist cloud) that hung over the X-Men that rained sadness and despair on them. While stories were fantastic in many cases, this is no slight at the previous creative teams, the darkness of various times of extinction threats, schisms, revolutions and other issues over the last decade or so kept the X-Men in a very at times depressing state. Old friendships were ruined, characters died, and nothing was what is used to be like. It was a very continuity heavy time that undoubtedly turned many new readers away because really there was one long sort of ongoing story with various chapters stretching from House of M till it came to a overall conclusion with Inhumans vs X-Men earlier this year.
That’s all basically wiped away now. It’s still referenced a bit in this first issue, but one doesn’t need to know anything about what has happened in the last decade or more in this title. With just this one issue, ResurrXion has proven to be a great jumping on place for at least the X-Men so far. All the old favorites are here: A classic team of X-Men, reminders of the relationships between these characters, a classic superhero battle, a softball game, and dealings with the hated and feared aspect that comes with the X-Men and mutants in general.
There was a lot going on in this issue, but it worked to establish what this team and the line overall will be looking at going forward. The biggest standout is how effective Kitty Pryde is as a leader already. While she has had some leadership experiences in the past, including serving as headmaster of the school alongside Wolverine years ago, this is her first real big time as leader of the X-Men and she is already hitting the ball out of the park (You know…because they played softball in the issue). Seemingly channeling the Cyclops of old, she quickly commands her team and comes up with effective strategies to the problems at hand as if it’s the easiest thing to do. Yet, at the same time, she’s proven to be the heart of the book because while she’s in full command on the battle field, there are moments given that prove she is still just a regular person working to fill some big shoes.
The entire art team does a wonderful job in the book, bringing that classic look to the X-Men back as well. Bright and colorful costumes speak to the fact that we’re back to an 80s/90s style team that are here to save the world, even if everyone hates them while they do it. It’s not an art style that pushes boundaries or goes outside the box, which is perfect. Much like the overall theme of back to the basics, this art is very reminiscent at times to Jim Lee or other 90s styles in presenting these recognizable characters, yet it’s a style all its own of course. The only questionable scene in the book comes from both writing and art side as it deals with Kitty and her attempts to stop a skyscraper from collapsing onto other buildings nearby. Both writing and art are good, but they leave a lot of questions to be asked about just what happens to the building when Kitty uses her powers on it. It will be interesting to see how this team will deal with more action packed moments that are bound to come, especially with the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants making their presence felt in the book.
Many might call this book and the rest of the line nostalgia pandering, but I would argue that is a good thing. While they will be clearly moving things forward still, with new locations and missions and ideas in different books, returning the X-Men to a more recognizable state is good for the line. For years the X-Men titles had been good but were lacking a distinctive identity. Some books had basically the same mission statement at times, with just the creative team and a few characters to make them stand apart. Other characters were tossed aside and forgotten, and overall that aforementioned cloud of doom hung around to bring everything down. At long last the X-Men are catching a break of sorts and have room to actually grow and change and be something more recognizable. This is the move that was needed, and X-Men Gold #1 delivers in that regard.
It’s definitely work checking out.