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Oct 1

X-Men Gold #12 – “Kologoth”

Posted on Sunday, October 1, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

May as well knock this one off quickly, and get up to date with X-Men Gold.  There’s an issue to spare before a crossover with X-Men Blue (which gets a couple of pages of set-up in the epilogue, but we’ll worry about that another time).  So this is the origin story of Kologoth.

Kologoth is the mystery new guy who showed up in the mind-controlled Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in the first couple of issues, and later turned out to be an alien.  One of the things which Marc Guggenheim has done reasonably well in this series is laying the groundwork for his subplots and checking in on them periodically; the book has taken its time building up the character before putting him in the foreground.

So the story is that he’s from a planet in the Negative Zone called Dantaryus.  He’s a mutant, he was rejected at birth because he looked horribly deformed, he grew up in the wilds fending for himself, you know the drill.  Eventually he hooks up with somebody called Augor, who he describes as a “radical”.  The gist – at least in Kologoth’s account – seems to be that both of them have Apocalypse-style “survival of the fittest” agendas, but they’ve built a following by claiming to be a religious cult.  He leads a rebellion, loses, and gets banished to Earth.

What follows in the rest of the issue is pretty much just the plot mechanics of his involvement with the X-Men to date – there are two pages explaining how Lydia Nance found him, followed by about four pages of straight recap.  Kologoth escaped from the X-Men when the X-Cutioner let him out during the Secret Empire crossover, he’s made contact with home, and now he’s waiting for them to come and get him.

So… that’s an origin story, to be sure.  And it’s got Lee Weeks on art, which is always a pleasant change; Dantaryus may be your standard sci-fi/fantasy trope collection, but at least Weeks gives it a bit of grit and energy.

But it’s not so obvious how this is heading towards being an X-Men story.  Kologoth is a would-be conqueror, but he mainly just wants to go home.  Presumably we’re drifting towards the X-Men hunting him down and getting sucked into Dantaryus’s internal wars, so how interesting are those?

Despite the initial set-up of Kologoth being rejected because he was a mutant, that doesn’t feel like an especially important feature of the overall story.  It’s his motivation for a “strongest survives” mentality, but it’s not actually the selling point for his army; instead, he tells us that he’s positioned himself as a sort of rallying figure for some sort of religious minority, and there certainly don’t seem to be any other mutants among his followers, as far as we can see.  Perhaps they’re meant to be united as social outcasts, but we’re not really told enough about the religious dimension to know.

It’s hard to tell, at this stage, how far Kologoth’s set-up is simply underdeveloped, and how far we’re in unreliable narrator territory.  For example, his followers’ religion is clearly important to the plot, but he says  nothing about what they actually believe, or what he’s been telling them.  That may well be intentional; he doesn’t seem to actually believe any of this himself, and he may well not see the details as especially important.  He meets Augur while killing everyone else in the group, but gives a hand-waving explanation that he somehow felt Augur was different; it’s certainly possible that the idea is to have Augur manipulating him somehow.  And Kologoth explicitly claims that Dantaryan society is really all built on a survival of the fittest philosophy already, but he gives no real illustration beyond what happened to him, and acknowledges that it looks different on the surface.

In short, if you take this stuff at face value, it’s weak and generic; but there are gaps in here that could plausibly be back doors to fill in a more complex picture down the line.  Then again, X-Men Gold‘s track record when it comes to delivering on potential hasn’t been so great thus far.  And the iconography of Kologoth’s army – down to the black and white circular logo on a red background, which they wear as armbands – sends an unambiguous signal that they’re substitute Nazis.  It’s a mis-step, because even if that’s what they’re going to turn out to be, they’re still meant to be an alien army, and they look far too close to a historical re-enactment society.

This one could go both ways.  It’s nothing great so far, but you can see the points where it leaves scope to expand into more interesting territory as the story progresses.

Bring on the comments

  1. Brian says:

    The X-Men dealing with a religious allegory? Oh joy, that always goes so well and is handled so delicately…

  2. Daniel Lourenço says:

    i definitely share yr serious hesitations regarding the choice of garment for the army-cult collective; it feels like a very gratuitous and irresponsible deployment of tremendously charged iconography to me, and since the story doesn’t take any time to elaborate upon it, it’s very difficult at this point to believe it will be handled with adequate care or, even, much of a point. marvel seriously needs to rethink its willingness to deploy fascism (literally and metaphorically) when its creators tend to display such a shallow understanding of politics, and more specifically of how they may interplay with mainstream comic sensibilities.

    at the same time, this is probably the issue of X-Men Gold i have enjoyed the most so far – despite not being convinced it constitutes a very strong issue per se…

    the art is a major plus, compared to the stale, generic super-hero art we’ve had so far; it certainly feels more vibrant and stylized than quite a lot of the work we’ve seen on this series.

    and i think the story itself benefits from putting Guggenheim’s tired, unambitious, conservative take on the characters on hold and playing around with different concepts which may, hypothetically, lead us toward a less immediately obvious storyline.

    overall i find this series very, very weak, unconvincing, and dull.

    if you’re going to produce a “back-to-basics” approach to something like the X-Men, your creative and conceptual work should be trying its best to balance more traditional instincts with ways of executing the stories in ways that feel forward thinking.

    it feels to me like a fundamental misunderstanding of what made the stories great in the first place – as if ensuring quality storytelling is about exploring the same narrative threads as decades ago, with the exact same characters, rather than acknowledging that part of what constituted the X-Men as an important reference-point in the first place was a lot of the oddness and ambition and creative insight of Claremont’s work…

  3. Taibak says:

    So a villain from the Negative Zone tries to conquer Earth as a means to get home.

    Are you sure this isn’t a Fantastic Four story that escaped from the lab?

  4. Thom H. says:

    “It’s hard to tell, at this stage, how far Kologoth’s set-up is simply underdeveloped…”

    If it’s possible, it sounds like it’s simultaneously under- and -overdeveloped. What a mess of an origin. *And* he was a member of the Brotherhood? Ugh. Enough already.

  5. Rich Larson says:

    Two quick points. They keep calling Kologoth “Creepy New Guy” as if that’s funny. Especially since they thought he was a new mutant in the beginning, wouldn’t our fighters for mutant rights try not to dismiss someone born with a different look as “creepy”?

    Second, to DL’s point about what made the classic era so compelling. Part of it was the characters did change and grow over time. Back to basics as superheroing is fine, back to exactly the same character beats as thirty years ago is not so interesting. 12 issues in and there’s not much more than Kitty as leader.

  6. Bob says:


    Human-passing mutants have always seemed to thumb their nose at non-human passing mutants (that aren’t Beast). It was the basis for the Morlocks and was seen again during Morrison’s run with Beak.

  7. Rich Larson says:

    That’s true to a point – and there’s even how Kitty initially reacted to Nightcrawler in the beginning. But there’s a difference from how school kids react to Beak and having our point of view heroes mocking someone for how they look. If it were part of a deeper story about relationships among mutants it might be one thing. It’s certainly coming across as “Creepy New Guy” being used to sound like a funny joke. That seems both out of character and inconsistent with the ethos of the book.

  8. Chris says:

    The Beast got away with it because he’s OG

    And he did it to himself

    And he is an Avenger

  9. Chris says:

    “He’s a mutant, he was rejected at birth because he looked horribly deformed, he grew up in the wilds fending for himself, you know the drill.”

    I feel like I saved $$$ not buying this

  10. Luis Dantas says:

    What does “OG” stand for?

  11. jpw says:

    OG = Olive Garden. Beast loves crappy factory-produced breadsticks. Don’t forget, despite his pedigree and universe-spanning adventures, Beast is a Midwesterner.

  12. Bob says:

    Original Gangster
    Onanistic Geisha
    Opportunistic Grinch
    Offended Girlmonk
    Offal Gnarly
    Orange(-faced $#!T-)Gibbon

  13. Chris V says:

    I think it stands for “old guard” in this connotation.

  14. Chris says:

    Hank McCoy provides free bread sticks

  15. Brian says:

    It would surprise no one if Hank built a machine that produced unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks.

  16. Cory says:

    The comments in this post proved to be far more entertaining than the issue itself.

    OG = original gangster

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