X-MEN GOLD #20 by Marc Guggenheim, Diego Bernard, and Frank Martin
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
X-MEN GOLD #20 delivers weak characterization and random romance as the X-Men fight for survival on an alien planet.
75 %
Romance Overload
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Spoilers for X-MEN GOLD #20 ahead.

X-MEN GOLD #20 features the scattered members of the team fighting for their lives after crash-landing on an alien planet in the previous issue. But while this premise has potential for strong storytelling and characterization, it focuses too much on Kitty and Colossus’ unrealistic relationship to be stellar. Still, the final installment of “The Negative Zone War” succeeds in preparing a clean slate for a new arc.

Love is Surviving a Sandstorm on an Alien Planet

After sending Scythian to the Negative Zone in X-MEN GOLD #19. The X-Men’s ship crashes in an alien world, separating the team. Storm appears first, battling an alien monster without her weather-altering powers. Miles away, Ink and Nightcrawler are inside the ship, injured and confused.

Armor and Logan are also lucky enough to still be with a different portion of the ship, and they’re in surprisingly good shape after a crash landing (though a healing factor might have something to do with that). Meanwhile, close to death in the middle of a sandstorm, Kitty tries to keep Colossus alive by phasing the storm through him — but her powers are weakening.

X-MEN GOLD #20
Courtesy of Marvel Comics

The team finds one another as Logan and Armor reunite with Ink and Nightcrawler in the ship’s engine room. Although the technology is foreign, Nightcrawler has a decent grasp on how to use it. However, it’s the final reunion of all of the X-Men Gold members, and the addition of Storm’s seemingly-lost powers, that allows the team to get back home to Earth.

The last few pages show Kitty and Colossus adjusting to life back at the Institute. Their near-death experience on the alien planet made Kitty think about her relationship with Colossus, and she decides she wants to finally take up his earlier offer of marriage (check out X-MEN GOLD #9 for Peter’s proposal).

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Getting the Team Back Together in X-MEN GOLD #20

The plot of X-MEN GOLD #20 is not as action-packed as the other installments in the “Negative War Zone” arc. Instead, it focuses more on character relationships. For action fans, the team searching for one another on an alien planet might come across as tedious.

The strong romance element also might not be for everyone. Kitty and Colossus get a lot of panel space in X-MEN GOLD #20, which can be both good and bad. Positively, more panel space makes their relationship somewhat believable. Negatively, their relationship pulls from other characters who needed more space in the issue. This is what hurts the issue the most since the Gold team has a lot of characters who deserve to be heard. In future installments, I’d like to see writer Marc Guggenheim focus on some characters who haven’t gotten a lot of panel space, such as Logan and Storm.  

What would have added a lot to the plot is a stronger focus on Storm. Although she’s on the cover of the issue, she takes the backseat in favor of Kitty and Colossus’ storyline. On the alien planet, Storm doesn’t think her mutant powers work. This is important, since her powers are part of her identity, yet X-MEN GOLD #20 barely touches on this. We never get to see how having her powers removed affects her emotionally, which would have served the plot better instead of romance.

X-MEN GOLD #20 does send the Gold team back to Xavier’s, which helps prepare a clean slate for a future arc. While there are concerns, it does feel like the end of an arc and the beginning of something new.

Will the Real Kitty Pryde Please Stand Up?

Though Kitty is the focus of X-MEN GOLD #20, her characterization is lacking. The usually strong, independent team leader appears incapable and love-struck and seems like an entirely different person. She never shows concern for her missing and injured teammates, and primarily exists in this issue as a romantic plot point. 

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The proposal at the end of the issue is a little random. Just ten issues before, Kitty was reminding Colossus that their relationship was platonic. The jump from level-headed to love-struck is too dramatic considering there isn’t a lot of build up in past issues. Although their relationship has grown since their reunion in the first issue, it hasn’t grown enough to warrant a proposal. More time to allow Kitty and Colossus to naturally develop as a couple is definitely needed.

After her numerous relationships in the past, I was hoping to see Kitty grow more as a single character. But, I think a lot of people probably want to see the on-and-off couple finally tie the knot. I just find the timing and the characterization of Kitty to be awkward.

Art Saves the Day

While the plot and characterization in X-MEN GOLD #20 are lacking, the art is exceptional. Colorist Frank Martin’s Storm is still white-washed, but penciler Diego Bernard‘s portrayal of the alien world is enthralling. Together, the team’s use of shadows works better than the writing at expressing character’s emotions and inner thoughts.

Bernard also excels at drawing characters who are not as popular as the regular members of X-MEN GOLD, such as Ink and Armor. While artists can neglect to give these characters definable features, all of Bernard’s look like individuals instead of background props.

X-MEN GOLD #20
Courtesy of Marvel Comics

X-MEN GOLD #20

Though X-MEN GOLD #20 succeeds in setting up for future arcs, it relies too heavily on Kitty and Colossus’ relationship to be an outstanding conclusion to “The Negative Zone War.” A stronger emphasis on accurate characterization and compelling plotlines would have improved this issue and would benefit future issues of X-MEN GOLD.

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