Kitty Pryde Rescues the “Prince” in X-MEN GOLD #29

x-men gold #29

X-MEN GOLD #29 somehow delivers both everything and nothing you were expecting. There’s a space battle, a sasquatch, and, of course, a princess rescuing her prince. Sounds like your typical happily ever after, right? Marc Guggenheim, Geraldo BorgesDavid Marquez, Arif Prianto, and Matthew Wilson finally wrap up the “new” Legacy Virus in the penultimate issue of the “Til Death Do Us Part” arc. In it, the X-MEN GOLD creative team defies some typical story-telling elements but ultimately fails to tell a lasting story. While the issue has a lot of action and drama, it lacks the characterization, solid pacing, and unique themes that make the X-Men, well, the X-Men.

x-men gold #29
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Help is on the way in X-MEN GOLD #29

Kitty and the team find Colossus in the abandoned Roxxon space station but not before Alpha unleashes his hellish Legacy Virus experiments on Earth’s mutants. Using Colossus’ DNA, Alpha and Lydia Nance created a “new” Legacy Virus that has the capability to instantly kill every mutant on Earth. In X-MEN GOLD #29, that virus is tumbling towards Earth in the form of little robots. If even one robot hits ground, every mutant will immediately die. In order to stop the virus and save Colossus, Kitty has to rely on some friends in high places. But, as the last few pages reveal, the Gold team is definitely not through with Alpha and the Legacy Virus. Alpha’s presumably just going to take a break so Kitty and Colossus can (finally) get married in X-MEN GOLD #30.

Slow it Way Down

Normally in a comic arc, the final issue has the fastest pace. Writers find themselves with only one issue left and they’re forced to speed up the conclusion. Sometimes, this makes the entire arc feel clunky and poorly utilized. When the last issue reads quickly, it causes the reader to wonder whether an entire issue on one character’s backstory is really necessary.

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With “Til Death Do Us Part,” there may be one more issue left but the story of the “new” Legacy Virus is over. Because X-MEN GOLD #30 will presumably just cover Kitty and Colossus’ wedding, X-MEN GOLD #29 is a concluding issue. With this in mind, I think it’s safe to say that Guggenheim faces some serious pacing issues during this comic and throughout the current arc. X-MEN GOLD #28 crawled pace-wise but this issue races through some pretty important events. This means a lot of things that Guggenheim should have covered in detail are not. From the Gold’s team miraculous rescue to the impenetrable Alpha’s sudden vulnerability, X-MEN GOLD #29 sees a lot of pieces fall perfectly into place when they probably shouldn’t.

x-men gold #29
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

If Guggenheim had sped up past issues and slowed down this issue, I think it could have been more successful. The story of another Legacy Virus isn’t incredibly novel but comics repeat ideas and that’s okay. But if Guggenheim wanted this arc to leave as much of an impact as the first Legacy Virus story, he’d have needed to space out the events a little more efficiently.

It’s Called a “Team” for a Reason

One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard from X-MEN GOLD readers is the ridiculously strong focus on Kitty Pryde. Even Shadowcat fans have a problem with how brightly the spotlight shines on the Gold team’s leader. I agree with this criticism. However, in X-MEN GOLD #29, it’s actually the pacing that causes Kitty to look more like a central character than she really is. There isn’t a lot of room for characterization from anyone, though Kitty does get the most. This causes the story to appear as if it revolves solely around her.

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For the present arc, the Kitty-centric dialogue and characterization make sense. The arc is about her marriage. But, because Guggenheim has focused so much on the character in past arcs, “Til Death Do Us Part” doesn’t feel special. It just feels like another Kitty dominated arc. In X-MEN GOLD #29, Guggenheim rushes everything so much that Kitty is, undoubtedly, the “protagonist” merely because she gets a few pages of dialogue. Unfortunately, neither Rachel nor Storm gets any hint of characterization — even though Guggenheim has subtly teased changes in their characters in past issues. That’s a problem.

I like Kitty and I like her character. She’s interesting and has a lot to say as an X-Men leader. I love that Guggenheim has her “rescuing” Colossus instead of the other way around. That’s innovative and different. However, there needs to be a stronger focus on the Gold team. Storm, Rachel, and Nightcrawler are fan-favorites but they’re constantly being pushed away to make room for more Kitty panel-time. After the end of “Til Death Do Us Part,” I really hope Kitty goes on an extended honeymoon. Hopefully then Rachel, Storm, and Nightcrawler can get some decent dialogue.

x-men gold #29
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Creative Compositions

Geraldo Borges has illustrated issues of X-MEN GOLD in the past, but I’ve never been particularly impressed. His work is heavily stylized and the female characters are frequently difficult to differentiate. However, in X-MEN GOLD #29, I think his art is one of the best parts of the issue. Since I didn’t particularly enjoy this issue, that might not be saying much. But, in all honesty, I really do think Borges does a good job with X-MEN GOLD #29.

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This issue shifts from different scenes extremely frequently, so I know for an artist that’s tough to illustrate. It also introduces a lot of new characters and has a ton of action sequences. In short, X-MEN GOLD #29 isn’t a walk in the park for even the best artists. But, Borges does a great job, nailing every expression, action pose, and background.

x-men gold #29
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

My favorite part about Borges’ work is his ability to manipulate panel composition in fun, unique ways. He uses concepts like diptychs (two separate panels that create one image) and varying angles to mix up the boredom of “normal” panels. For someone who reads a lot of comics, I appreciate the little ways artists try to make their work their own outside style. Composition can really impact a comic.

I have stated in past reviews how I feel about colorist Arif Prianto’s work and I stand by those opinions. His strange skin tones continue to lack realism and make many of the characters look more like dolls rather than living, breathing people. While I like his style of coloring (it’s uniquely painterly), his palette needs to change for the art of X-MEN GOLD to really succeed.

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Final Thoughts

The creative team of X-MEN GOLD #29 throws readers numerous curve balls throughout the issue, but unfortunately none are exciting enough to make this issue what the series needs. While Guggenheim does try to keep readers on their toes by switching the typical female-victim and male-rescuer dynamic, with a series that’s all about Kitty Pryde, that doesn’t come as a big surprise. She’s already in the spotlight so much that her unique position as a rescuer isn’t particularly effective.

Because of poor pacing that extends multiple issues, including this one, the “Til Death Do Us Part” isn’t as good as I would have hoped. However, there’s still one issue left. X-MEN GOLD #30 is all about Kitty and Colossus’ wedding. I don’t know about you readers but I’m pretty excited. If there’s one issue I won’t be mad about Kitty’s unfair spotlight, it’ll be this one. I hope Guggenheim pulls out all of the stops for the thirtieth issue of X-MEN GOLD and changes the direction of the series because at the moment, it really needs some help.

X-MEN GOLD #29 by Marc Guggenheim, Geraldo Borges, David Marquez, Arif Prianto, and Matthew Wilson
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Summary
X-MEN GOLD #29 finally sees the climatic end of the "new" Legacy Virus, but it does so at a heightened and unnatural speed. Geraldo Borges and Arif Prianto add to this failure with art that lacks a sense of grounded reality. Instead, this entire issue -- and the arc so far -- feel like a dream. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing for a wedding themed arc is up to individual interpretation.
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