Today, Marvel released its sophomore issue of the Kitty Pryde lead team of X-Men in X-MEN GOLD. Unfortunately, artist Ardian Syaf’s controversial insertion of his personal politics distracted fans from enjoying the first issue. Nonetheless, X-MEN GOLD #2 continues what we at ComicsVerse call “Renaissance X.”

Warning! This review contains spoilers!

Once again, embracing the hated and feared minority metaphor, the X-Men finally return to their roots. Given the state of global politics and the rise of populism in the West, it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Politics Abound in X-MEN GOLD #2

X-MEN GOLD #2 shamelessly dives into the current political climate and, rightfully, makes no apologies for it. The irony of Ardian Syaf’s hidden political messages is not lost on anyone. It becomes even more ironic after reading X-MEN GOLD #2. The issue deals with the deportation of mutants, an entire race (or species in this case) blamed for the crimes of the few, and violent voices calling for heinous actions which won’t solve the problem at hand. The X-Men metaphor has almost never been as relevant as it is now.

In X-MEN GOLD #2, Colossus discusses with Kitty that the United States wants to deport mutants.
In X-MEN GOLD #2, Colossus discusses with Kitty that the United States wants to deport mutants. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

X-MEN GOLD #2 makes powerful political statements that decisively embrace tolerance, diversity, and acceptance. In the last issue, I deduced X-MEN GOLD alluded to a political commentary on the Trump Administration. Allusion became reality in issue #2. While the issue does feature the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants reborn, the X-Men’s real enemy is far less tangible. While the X-Men battle against the newly reformed Brotherhood, intolerance — the real enemy — surrounds them in a political climate full of fake news and dangerous rhetoric. Rhetoric as dangerous as this in the X-Men Universe has only one goal — to rid the world of mutants. Only this time, politics eclipses what used to be open bigotry.

HEAR: Like a little more politics mixed with your X-Men? You’ll love our podcast, X-Men, “The Dream!”

Welcome Back, Brotherhood!

The last few decades of X-Men comics showed us various incarnations of the Brotherhood. In Brian Michael Bendis’ ALL-NEW X-MEN, we met the Brotherhood from the future. Ed Brubaker’s UNCANNY X-MEN introduced the first Sisterhood lead by what appeared to be an apparition of Madelyn Prior. However, the Brotherhood in X-MEN GOLD #2 is particularly unique for several reasons. First, the most obvious difference lies in the reintroduction of the word “evil” in their title. This isn’t just the Brotherhood. It’s the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. They exhibit every intention of embracing their newly reclaimed title.

The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants versus The X-MEN GOLD #2 Team

The newly reformed Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in X-MEN: GOLD #2.
The newly reformed Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in X-MEN: GOLD #2. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

A new character resembling a humanoid brood joins Mesmero, the Morlock Masque, Avalanche, and Pyro in this reconstitution of the Brotherhood. Soon after the start of the issue, new characters taking on the monikers Avalanche and Pyro are deemed copycats. Most noteworthy, former New Mutants team member Magma appears to have also joined the Brotherhood. Full disclosure, I’ve always held Amara Aquilla aka Magma close to my heart. She stole it after I first discovered NEW MUTANTS in the late 1980’s.

Fans remember that in YOUNG X-MEN, Donald Pierce disguised himself as Cyclops. He subsequently convinced a new team of X-Men that former members of New Mutants created a new Brotherhood. Magma was thought to be a team member until it was revealed Cyclops was Donald Pierce and no new version of the Brotherhood ever existed. Due to this, it makes it even harder to believe someone corrupted Magma into following a radical ideology she spent her life fighting against. While Magma remains one of my favorite underrated mutants, I see how Amara joining the Brotherhood makes an interesting creative choice.

Donald Pierce disguised himself as Cyclops in YOUNG X-MEN.
Donald Pierce disguised himself as Cyclops in YOUNG X-MEN. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

LISTEN: Speaking of Magma, want more information? We discuss the entire NEW MUTANTS run in this podcast!

X-MEN GOLD #2: The Bottom Line

The X-Men have once again taken the reigns in the mainstream comic book world as champions of diversity and acceptance. X-MEN GOLD #2 will undoubtedly speak to anyone ever been made to feel less than. As the world decides to what degree they will tolerate them, it allows those forced to hide the space to let their flags fly, no matter how unique or different those flags look.

In conclusion, the X-Men embracing what it is that sets them apart from other superhero teams makes this issue great. Marvel heard what X-Men fans had to say, and they acted on it. Finally, the X-Men have returned to the glory days of Chris Claremont’s masterpiece X-MEN: GOD LOVES, MAN KILLS.

Like X-MEN: GOD LOVES, MAN KILLS, X-MEN GOLD #2 gives permission to the reader to reconsider their biases. It allows for an opportunity to learn and better one’s self. If X-MEN GOLD continues down this path, there should be little doubt it will become an instant classic. After all, what more could you ask for from a work of art?

Oh, and did I mention there’s a new kind of fastball special?

X-MEN GOLD #2 by Marc Guggenheim, Ardian Syaf, Jake Leisten, Frank Martin, and Cory Petit
Plot
Characterization
Art
Summary
The X-Men have once again taken the reigns in the mainstream comic book world as champions of diversity and acceptance. X-MEN GOLD #2 will undoubtedly speak to anyone ever been made to feel less than.
99 %
Work of Art

16 Comments

  1. Dan

    May 8, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    I write creatively for my own pleasure, one day maybe I’ll take the leap and send it off to see if it could be something. I don’t write reviews, though I do have opinions. I haven’t a blog either.

    Reply

  2. Dan

    May 8, 2017 at 6:08 pm

    I agree with that, and hopefully they can find a way to have commentary about marginalized communities with a truck load more grace, I think it’s much more powerful that way. Marvel in general I think needs to step up its writing, social issues are more than necessary in marvels universe and can bring people from both sides together with point of views they hadn’t considered, but the writing (I believe) has been so poor the last few years that it comes off as pandering and has the opposite effect on its readers. Anyway, thanks for all the replies.

    Reply

    • Justin Gilbert Alba

      May 8, 2017 at 6:09 pm

      Dan, do you write yourself? Reviews or creatively? Blog?

      Reply

  3. Justin Gilbert Alba

    May 8, 2017 at 4:25 pm

    Hi Dan! No problem! I have this theory that people relate good comics to their first great experience reading them. I started with Dark Phoenix Saga and Chris Claremont’s X-Men, and X-Men Gold is VERY similar to those, so I absolutely understand why you feel differently. I wasn’t a fan of the all the pre-AvX stuff because I missed the X-Men metaphor that X-Men Gold deals with!

    Reply

  4. Dan

    May 8, 2017 at 9:23 am

    I started reading during the Age of Apocalypse, and I love the team in this book I was just hoping for so much more to start. I think they need to find writers that can weave their commentaries in more organically or forget the commentaries until they do find one. If you’re looking for a good book with an undocumented character I enjoyed Daredevils 1-6 run about a year or so ago which touches on it, albeit marginally. I love the X-Men, I appreciate the messages people try to send using them, but it still has to be an X-Men story at its core, and I felt like this opening arc had those two flipped. The main story being his commentary, secondly the X-Men. Still have hope though! Great with the replies. Sorry I didn’t last night, Fell asleep.

    Reply

  5. Justin Gilbert Alba

    May 8, 2017 at 12:51 am

    I might also say to those who might also be at real risk to be deported, it may have been cool to have that recognized in a comic? Though I do think the X-Men have more a chance of being properly deported than illegal US aliens. 🙂

    Reply

  6. Justin Gilbert Alba

    May 8, 2017 at 12:50 am

    Ha! You’re a really good writer, btw. I did notice some of what you’re saying. I thought it was about style though. I thought it invoked a different era. Can I ask when you started reading X-Men comics? I always think when someone starts and what period they start with has something to do with the difference of opinion you and I have.

    Reply

  7. Dan

    May 8, 2017 at 12:46 am

    I feel like the story could’ve been written about any characters in all of comic book-dom, and these issues served more as the afterschool special than a true X-Men story. The magic is in mixing those two so that you empathize with the characters, there was none of that. And the threat of deportation within that world is a joke. Imagine metropolis (I know I’m hoping to DC here but bear with me) TV commentators denouncing Superman if he botched a rescue or did anything that could earn their ire. He’s not human, arguably not a citizen, so in some ways it’s even more plausible than the X-Men in terms of deportation, but they threatening him with deportation……it’s so obviously an attempt to pander for me, I’m not hating on the message, just the lazy way it was delivered. Their world is not ours, which there are ways those issues could be addressed, this wasn’t a very good attempt. Deportation is no threat for these people, they’re superhuman, so using deportation, the very same deportation that is headlining news today, is weak writing. He needed to place the mutants in a situation where they could plausibly be deported and that that would have an impact on them. On another planet, or in time, or in the savage land, or out of limbo when they were hiding from the Terrigen. Something that would hold some threat and would make the readers, regardless of their political opinions yearn for that character to not be exiled/deported. Example: Limbo, space is limited at the Mansion there and some mutants are being exiled out of limbo back to earth where they would potentially die from th terrigen, mutants are being exiled based on sex or age or ethnicity or tenure or SOMETHING. (Assuming you read extraordinary X-Men) Make people who love a character regardless of political leanings see that character under threat of being exiled and get upset and care. That’s how it’s supposed to be done. But instead we got this rush job, 0 impact, just uses the ‘deportation’ buzzword and feels good about itself.

    And if you want me to get real nerdy for a second, the dialogue was so bad a couple times, Logans “feed on your spleen” and saying “flaming” all the time. A few logic gaps. Logan gets one blast from Magma and has to flee?

    At the end of the day I want the X-Men taken care of, making a statement when their world offers them the chance and opportunity and not forcing it, which is what I felt like this did. This was the big rebrand, I was hoping for something much more establishing the team (Kitty got some of that in #3), the world, etc. Hopefully it starts in #4.

    Again, thanks for the reply.

    Reply

  8. Justin Gilbert Alba

    May 8, 2017 at 12:18 am

    I get it! 🙂 I don’t wholeheartedly disagree with you either, haha. So what didn’t you like about the writing?

    Reply

  9. Dan

    May 8, 2017 at 12:17 am

    I just feel like the X-Men are being used to push a political message in this series, without regard to their world or blending our issues into their world to make those issues more impactful. And I’m not opposed to that, X-Men are proudly known for that, but we’re still here for a story about the X-Men, not just real world political commentary. The writing here just reads so poorly that I find it difficult to take seriously. If you really felt it was that exceptional then more power to you, but I hope they find more organic (to the X-Universe) ways to make commentary in the future.

    And I do hold true that deporatation as a threat to mutants with these vast superpowers – and many of whom are citizens – is an idiotic concept used solely as a commentary on our world without regard for their world – and that’s awful writing. Not sure Guggenheim can get us there, but hopefully the X-Men of old come back, once he’s gone if that’s what it takes.

    Thanks for replying. Just my thoughts.

    Reply

  10. Justin Gilbert Alba

    May 7, 2017 at 11:52 pm

    I think everything you said is completely fair and valid, but an author doesn’t have to necessarily take a subtle approach. X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills is considered a classic and is far from subtle. Also, Days of Future Past?

    I definitely agree that subtlety in certain books is good, but there’s nothing about X-Men Gold that is meant to be subtle.

    Reply

  11. Dan

    May 7, 2017 at 11:48 pm

    Ya know, political and social issues have always been strong in X-Men books but over the last few years they’re been so poorly executed that (while I love the X-Men and I’ll likely always read them) it’s breaking the stream of consciousness of the reader and ruining the world that they live within. I was already scared seeing Guggenheims name on this book but I had high hopes despite that with this relaunch. Unfortunately so far it seems Guggenheim has all the subtlety and tact as a 2×4 to the face, and it’s not the issue that bothers me. Deportation and banning are issues of the day and are fare game, but they were both done so blatantly and basically here that it feels like this was written as political commentary at the expense of the characters and world. Look at the first six issues of the current run of Daredevil for a subtle but effective arc that touches on undocumented people living in America, compare that to this. Not to mention the whole “deport mutants” makes absolutely no sense within the world they live in. Those mutants are citizens, they wreek havoc all over the world anyway, this is nothing new, and they can fly/teleport/phase whenever and wherever they like. I mean, they spent the last year in limbo, bamfing around Europe and ancient Egypt, and the like, deportation is the stupidest idea I can fathom and clearly done as political commentary despite having no relevance to the world they’re in. Between the discount Brotherhood, the obviously crooked TV ‘bigot’, and the ridiculously out of place deportation storyline, this first arc is a dud, and Guggenheim seems as Ill-capable of steering this rebranded X-Men universe as most of us feared. Political issues are not something I’m predisposed to dislike, they just need to be handled better. And even if we agree with the political message it doesn’t excuse bad writing and storytelling. I’ve read many reviews here before but this is my first comment. I think this review was waaaayyyy off the mark. 3/10 (issue three was just as derivative)

    Reply

  12. thirteenthletter00

    April 30, 2017 at 8:57 pm

    Who needs good writing and coherent worldbuilding as long as you’re mouthing the right political slogans, right?

    Reply

  13. Justin Gilbert Alba

    April 27, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    And I was referring specifically to allusion not illusion!

    Reply

  14. Justin Gilbert Alba

    April 27, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    I would argue the political metaphor left after House of M and just returned.

    Reply

  15. GrassMudHorse

    April 27, 2017 at 8:29 am

    If it is political, X-men has always been. It is pretty clear Xavier is a Martin Luther King figure, and Magneto is a Malcolm X, Stan Lee has said as much over the years…there are hints of a combination of racism and antisemitism all through it since the 1970’s and 1980’s…and they are overt. That is NOTHING NEW. People are butt hurt about what? X-men, like most Sci-Fi type genres, is allegory to the present day. Sorry if the author is just understanding the literary concept of “illusion”. Are they like 10 years old?

    Reply

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