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Mar 6

X-Men Gold #21-22: “Brotherhood”

Posted on Tuesday, March 6, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

We can take this one quickly, because although X-Men Gold #21-22 are billed as a two-part story, they’re really not.  That’s not to say that bracketing them together is completely random – there’s certainly a story unit here, for want of a better word – but X-Men Gold is written more as a throwback to the open-ended storylines of the 80s and 90s, before things came in defined arcs.  So “Brotherhood” is really two issues of set-up – or, if you prefer, it’s not so much a story as a first act.

From the X-Men’s point of view, the story is very simple.  Mesmero’s Brotherhood show up again, attacking a Heritage Initiative fundraising event.  The X-Men dutifully go to save the day.  But Mesmero is an illusionist, so he tricks them into fighting the police and runs away.  Kitty decides they should probably play along with the authorities, since they did beat up some cops and all, so the team are carted off to jail, which is where we can presumably expect to find them in issue #23’s “Cruel & Unusual, Part 1”.

So the immediate purpose of this story is simply to get the X-Men to jail and to deliver a fight scene that lasts most of issue #22.  But in fairness, there’s more going on than that, because Marc Guggenheim also likes to slow-burn his subplots in the style of 20 or 30 years ago.  (Artist Diego Bernard is a pretty good fit for this, since there’s a decided early nineties feel to his stuff, though with a bit less flash and a bit more character building.)

This means there’s quite a lot of stuff going on in here which has no immediate pay-off, but seems to be gradually advancing secondary threads, or just keeping some plates spinning.  Magma insists on tagging along with the rescue team so that she can get her hands on Mesmero, and naturally turns out to be a liability when she won’t take direction.  Rachel has gone back to her Hound tattoos and spiked costume and seems worryingly cheerful about the whole thing.  Kitty lets both of them go into the fight against her better judgment and gets to kick herself for seeing the mission go off the rails in precisely the way she saw coming a mile off, if only she’d been a bit less indulgent.  It’s all simple enough, but it does feel contribute to X-Men Gold‘s greatest asset: it feels like Guggenheim has a direction in mind for all these storylines.

On the villain side, there’s a random flashback to the childhood of Lydia Nance, the Heritage Initiative leader who’s clearly being set up as this book’s big bad.  Thus far, Nance has been a one-dimensional stand-in for the American hard right, and not a heavily disguised one at that.  Her origin flashback seems to establish her as the victim of an abusive mutant father, which… well, on the one hand, it’s something to add to her character, but on the other, it doesn’t seem a particularly typical motive for the sort of people she’s supposed to embody.  We’ll see how it plays out.

Most of the heavy lifting, though, centres on the new Pyro, who’s the focus of these two issues.  We established back at the start of X-Men Gold that Mesmero’s new Brotherhood had two new guys claiming to be Pyro and Avalanche.  This is where we find out more about them; Pyro II, it turns out, is a kid from Brooklyn who first signed up with Mesmero because he thought he was joining the X-Men.  He’s furious with both Mesmero and Lydia Nance but, being a sucker, sticks with Mesmero in order to get out of jail and take part in what he thinks is a revenge attack on Nance.  Of course, it’s not a revenge attack at all, it’s just another PR stunt which was commissioned by her all along.  By the end of the two parter, Pyro has rejected his cut and stormed out, which presumably means he’ll be showing up on the X-Men’s doorstep any minute, since it’s not like they’re hard to find.  (As for the new Avalanche, he’s delighted with his new criminal career and just wants to know if he can have Pyro’s cut too.)

Pyro seems to have some potential as a character; he’s got some obviously villainous tendencies, such as a willingness to sign up for revenge attacks on political fundraisers, but he’s not in it for the money and he’s quietly horrified at the thought of actually using his fire powers on other people.  It’s nothing ground breaking but you can see how it could work.

Still, for all that I can catalogue the things that are building for the future, it’s quite a slight story here and now.  As so often with Gold, it’s basically fine, and much depends on how much goodwill you’re willing to extend to the longer-term stuff.

Bring on the comments

  1. Mikey says:

    I’m liking the pacing. As long as it keeps to the schedule, this is working.

    I’m amused that Rachel got a new costume, what, a year ago? And it’s gone. It was hideous anyways.

  2. Joseph says:


    Do we need another Pyro? Or even another character with fire powers?

    As for Rachel, I wish she could just settle into a role. You can have character growth without the constant identity crisis can’t you? But hopefully they’ll quietly drop that horrible code name Prestige and that horrible cape.

  3. Moo says:

    A “good” Pyro is a terrible idea. Roasting your opponents is a bad guy shtick, not a good guy shtick. Yes, there’s Johnny Storm, but the FF fought a lot of monsters he could cut loose on. Apart from him, well… look at the track record for fire based superheroes. It’s pretty terrible. They mostly hang out in comic book limbo.

  4. mark coale says:

    A new Pyro?

    Time for a new good guy Asbestos Lady.


  5. Si says:

    The heroic Asbestos Lady could be like Rogue. “First boy ah ever kissed got mesothelioma twenty years later, ah caint take the risk of touching anyone!”

  6. ASV says:

    So much for the Excalibur reunion story taking place “between #22 and #23.”

  7. Thom H. says:

    Yep, a new fire mutant is exactly what the X-Men need since they’ve got Magma on the team. I swear, the original New Mutants characters have been wasted for so long now it shouldn’t even come as a surprise.

  8. Moo says:

    I actually understand that, though. What do you do with the original New Mutants anyway? They’ve long since outgrown the “New Mutants” set-up, and putting them in the X-Men never seems to stick for very long. Probably because they’ve been pigeon-holed by readers and creators alike. I certainly have a hard time thinking of any of them as X-Men. When I think of Kitty Pryde, I think “X-Men”. When I think of Dani, or Sam, Roberto, etc I think “New Mutants”. Can’t help it.

    Oh, well. They’ve got a movie coming up so I’m sure Marvel will do something with them.

  9. Thom H. says:

    Yeah, but couldn’t the storyline with the new Pyro be done with Magma instead? That seems like a fairly easy substitution.

    Also, shouldn’t Magma be part of the team every time Selene pops up? They were introduced together in New Mutants, after all. I’m sure Magma still has beef with her.

    And it’s not just Magma. Karma would have been a perfect choice for the current Shadow King story in Astonishing X-men.

    The original New Mutants make a good fit for a lot of X-men stories. And they’re never going to seem like X-men if they’re never written as X-men.

    So I’m glad Magma is at least in an X-men book, but it seems like she’s being underutilized.

  10. Mikey says:

    Magma is definitely the most-underutilized New Mutant, because, even when she’s there, she’s usually just a background character.

    Makes me miss the New Mutants book from a few years ago. Glad we have the miniseries coming up. I’m sure Marvel is annoyed that the miniseries and variant covers they created will no longer coincide with the movie, which was pushed back an entire year.

    Any guesses as to what sort of Frankenstein’s monster that movie will end up being after reshoots?

  11. Moo says:

    Magma’s probably under-utilized because her powers are impractical. If you’re leading a supergroup into the city to stop some bad guys, do you really want someone on your team whose power involves throwing up volcanoes? I’d try to avoid having her do that, but then if she not doing that, then she’s not being Magma. Pretty useless, IMO. And the Nova Roma stuff is just… why?

  12. Thom H. says:

    Hmm, I get the volcano thing, but even that’s an angle that can be explored in-story. She wants to help, but needs better control of her powers. Or she doesn’t care about the damage she’s causing and needs better control of her temper…

    And Nova Roma makes about as much sense as the Savage Land or the Shi’ar planet or Asteroid M. And it’s definitely a more interesting location than Central Park.

  13. Moo says:

    Ok, but with or without control, good temper or bad, she’s still Magma. She makes volcanoes. Even an even-tempered Magma with mastery over powers still amounts to a character that makes volcanoes, and a volcano sprouting up on fifth ave isn’t going to eventually dissolve like Spider-Man’s webbing or melt like Iceman’s slides and barriers. The city is pretty much stuck with it. But as I said, if she doesn’t make volcanoes, then she’s not really Magma and you may as well be going with a different character.

    As for Nova Roma, I guess that’s just a personal taste thing. I just don’t like this stuff in my X-Men. Same goes for stories dealing with the Savage Land and the Shi’ar.

  14. Si says:

    Note that Magik has been an X-Men for years, and is basically a core character now. Though technically she was in X-Men comics before New Mutants, she proves it can be done.

    Cannonball has had a few stints but he definitely doesn’t seem to stick.

  15. Chris V says:

    I’d say that losing your temper and creating a volcano….which is highly destructive…in New York City in order to stop some robbers is a really good way to make the human’s case against mutants.

    “Look, mutants do a lot of good! They fight crime!”
    “You destroyed millions of dollars in property to stop some thieves who stole $100 from a liquor store. The police could have accomplished this task easily.”

  16. Thom H. says:

    @Moo: If I recall correctly (and it’s been awhile), Magma was also able to shoot blasts of lava from her hands, which makes her not that different from any other fire hero/villain.

    And wasn’t she able to shift rocks, too, a la Terra of the Teen Titans? Again, my memory is foggy, but even if she’d never done that before, her power set clearly has room to grow beyond “makes volcanoes.” Reminds me of Iceman’s power over moisture — not that big of a stretch once you start thinking about it.

    @Chris V: I agree — she would probably scare a lot of non-mutants. Great story material…

    @Si: I had forgotten about Magik. She should be an inspiration to the rest of the NM to join up.

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