X-MEN GOLD #34 by Marc Guggenheim, Michele Bandini, and Erick Arciniega
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
Guggenheim finally approaches X-MEN GOLD like a team-centered series. Storm, who's largely been ignored for the past thirty issues, gets the spotlight in X-MEN GOLD #34 and it's exactly what we've all been waiting for. If you love Storm, this issue is for you.
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This week’s X-MEN GOLD #34 is all about Ororo Munroe. Writer Marc Guggenheim and artists Michele Bandini and Erick Arciniega delve into the complicated history of a character who’s been largely ignored for most of the X-MEN GOLD series. I don’t expect this arc to be very long, or have too much of a lasting impact on Storm’s character, but it’s still a welcome change of pace. Fans frequently forget Storm is even on the Gold team because the storylines so rarely revolve around her. The “Godwar” arc will make sure her mark is left on X-MEN GOLD.

X-MEN GOLD #34
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Something Lost

The biggest thing that happens in this issue is the return of Storm’s parents. If you’re an avid X-Men fan, you know that Ororo became an orphan at a young age after a city bombing killed her parents. Within the first few pages of X-MEN GOLD #34, the tyrannical god who’s taken over Storm’s hometown uses some sort of dark magic to resurrect Storm’s parents.

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She’s happy, of course, but she’s also very suspicious. The god, Uovu, reeks of evil. After some digging, Storm discovers Uovu’s secret chamber, where he’s been keeping the bodies of all the villagers he’s killed. Storm is horrified, since burial rites are extremely important for the village. She’s even more horrified when she realizes that the villagers — like her parents — aren’t really dead. Uovu has kept them in a zombified state so he could use them as an army against Storm. This means Storm will have to fight her friends and parents in order to leave the village alive.

Regression’s Effects

Losing your parents at a young age is no small deal. They’re the people you’re supposed to depend on and to have them suddenly stripped from you when you still need them is detrimental. Storm has grown up and moved past her tragedy, but seeing her parents again for the first time in years sends her back to her childhood. This mission isn’t Storm’s hardest journey by any means. We’ve seen her easily defeat monsters a lot bigger and a lot worse than Uovu. However, being back home, with her parents, makes her unusually vulnerable. Her emotional state is fragile, to say the least, and we’re seeing that firsthand.

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This may also be contributing to Storm’s inability to summon Stormcaster. Storm’s strained relationship with the Asgardian hammer hasn’t had a lot of panel time, so it’s kind of hard to tell why she’s struggling to call it now. Personally, I think it has something to do with her current mental state. She isn’t the strong, confident Storm we all know and love right now. Stormcaster probably doesn’t even recognize her. Until she can get back into her zone, she’s practically powerless.

X-MEN GOLD #34
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Where’s Kitty in X-MEN GOLD #34?

As Storm-centric as this issue is, Guggenheim does slide in a little scene between Kitty and her BFF Magik. While fighting robots in NYC, the pair talk about Kitty’s failed wedding and Magik’s guilt. Even though it wasn’t technically her fault, Magik feels like she somehow contributed to the big breakup when she told Kitty her reservations about the marriage. We’ll never know if that’s really what made Kitty call off the whole thing, but by now it doesn’t really matter. What does matter, however, is Kitty and Illyana’s friendship.

I’m more than tired of seeing Kitty in X-MEN GOLD, since she’s pretty much run the whole series since issue one, but I really enjoyed this moment. We don’t see Magik and Kitty interact a whole lot, even though they were inseparable in the ’90s. This scene, though short, is the perfect reminder of how close they are.

X-MEN GOLD #34
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

The Art We Deserve

X-MEN GOLD fans will be glad to see the return of penciller Michele Bandini, who drew X-MEN GOLD #33. The series has had some lackluster artists in the past but Bandini isn’t one of them. His figures and faces are realistic without being overly so. He’s also able to portray real emotion in a way that a lot of other comic artists fail to do.

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My only problem when it comes to the art is colorist Erick Arciniega. For the most part, he does an excellent job. The unique palette choices for the village are really beautiful and give the entire issue a sense of unease. The big mistake is skin tone. So many colorists struggle with portraying black characters accurately. In X-MEN GOLD #34, Storm and all of the villagers share the same light skin tone. I really would have liked to have seen a wider variety of skin tones in order to better reflect the region.

X-MEN GOLD #34
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Final Thoughts

X-MEN GOLD #34 isn’t a perfect issue by any means. However, the strong focus Guggenheim puts on Storm is something I’ve been wanting to see for a while. When compared to some of the earlier issues in the X-MEN GOLD series, I’d say this one is an obvious standout. Guggenheim is really considering every facet of Storm’s character and giving her the attention she deserves. I don’t think every X-Men fan needs this issue in their collection, but if you’re a Storm fan, this one is a must-have.

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