The divided teams band together and are joined by their fallen colleagues who return from the “dead” just in time for the penultimate chapter of Mojo’s attempted takeover of Manhattan only to discover they are no longer on Earth…but on MOJOWORLD.
X-MEN GOLD #15
Cover Artists-Dan Mora & Juan Fernandez
What You Need to Know:
In Mojo’s continued efforts to overtake Manhattan and boost his viewing figures he has divided and trapped the joint Blue and Gold teams in various virtual arenas of their most iconic battles. Dubbed by him their “Greatest Hits”, he is filming the action and broadcasting it to the world. He has so far put them on the defensive and despite being joined by none other than Longshot, he has managed to pick off several key players. Since the last issue in Gold the action has switched over to X-Men Blue #14, and unknown to them Mojo and Major Domo have also sent more of the golden spires hurtling into the city. Whereas initially keyed specifically to the X-Men to remove them from their world, now the megaliths are seemingly being sent to terraform and remap New York into his nightmarish vision. As the separate groups do battle with Phoenix imbued Sentinels, X-Brood, Horsemen and other assorted fiendish imaginings of the Bloated One Jeans shoulder gets impaled by a Broods metal claws and she has to psychically dull the pain and use her TK to patch herself up. Meanwhile, Magneto, Polaris, and Danger scour downtown Manhattan in a bid to help but encounter their own blast from the past in the form of The Mutant Massacre, complete with Marauders and… APOCALYPSE. Back in the primary battle, the teams have managed to regroup via some jiggery-pokery by Longshot and also found the fallen colleagues who have simply been held in stasis. Before they have time to gather their thoughts they discover not only has Mojo sent multiple spires to New York but they aren’t going to be able to do a thing about it, they are trapped… on Mojoworld!
What You’ll Find Out:
Finally, the joint teams have fully reconnected with each other and got their bearings but are faced with the enormity of their dilemma as they realize they are not only on Mojo’s turf but also stranded away from home and completely unable to stop his latest move against their homeworld.
Earths remaining heroes including Rockslide, Mirage, and Ink are on hand though to do all they can to assist. In usual ‘take charge’ fashion Dani is poised bow and arrow in hand in full Valkyrie regalia as she notes the good fortune they had in expanding the evacuation area and she and her companions continue in a bid to free people trapped in the buildings damaged by the falling spires. Kitty and Logan meanwhile realize they have to get back to help but are suddenly faced with an army of Bloats led by Spiral, presumably the real deal and Kitty gives the warning to all to prepare for the impending attack. Never one to miss an opportunity for an insult the watchful gloating Mojo not only has a dig at Kitty about her hairstyle but reminds them they aren’t in a simulation anymore and if they die now it’s for real.
Meanwhile in the Mutant Massacre simulation, Magneto, Polaris, and Danger have barely gotten accustomed to their surroundings and wardrobe change, when Apocalypse delivers a truly ungentlemanly roundhouse blow to Danger, thus causing the Master of Magnetism to send a metal spike hurtling toward him. No sooner does he catch it and scoff that one single piece of metal cannot harm one such as he than the rest of the surrounding metal comes in very handy as Magneto deals with him in short order and sends it following the same path with a satisfying ‘SHUNK’. The resulting scream is lost on Erik though who runs to Dangers aid and asks Polaris about the condition of the sentient Shi’ar mechanoid. While Lorna reminds her father she is neither medic or mechanic Danger assures them she is capable of internal repairs as he, in turn, repairs her outer shell. Just as she tries to warn them of the oncoming danger he mistakes her statement as referring to herself in the third person and admonishes her for it labeling it “arch and I should know”. It falls to Lorna to point out that what Danger means is the scenario shift around them and the new nemesis they face in a simulacrum of the awesome might of the Shi’ar Imperial Guard, including Vulcan and led by none other than Gladiator.
Rejoining the mass gathering of X-Men we see the whole team let fly and head into battle taking out a gaggle of Spineless Ones and Kitty and Jean discuss strategies in bullet point form. Both realizing their best option is to take the fight directly to the source Kitty ducks out instructing Jean that she is now in charge while she searches for the nerve center to better enable them to best end things, which Jean seemingly accepts only grudgingly. Perhaps she believes she has enough to worry about with her shoulder injury AND the fact Beast is still using magic as a crutch and isn’t keen on being left in charge of a senior team she isn’t all that familiar with, especially Longshot. Speaking of the Mojoworld rebel, he seems to be having a blast, joking with young Iceman as he throws his darts with barely a look and Storm and Bloodstorm are back to back in battle in what looks almost a natural maneuver for them both. Bloodstorm sees Colossus seemingly trapped under a mass of Bloats and calls out in alarm. Colossus needs no help however and scatters the pile up like so many tenpins whilst admonishing her for calling him the Tin Man. Old Man Logan tries to warn James to look out for Spiral who is poised to attack. James clearly takes this as paternal instinct as he thanks him calling him dad, clearly he can never get enough of this and gets a kick out of the look Logan gives when he does. As with the Storm coupling these two act on instinct and go back to back in mid-battle. Logan checks in with Rachel and asks her if she’s thinking what he is and she agrees, of course, she is, being a telepath has its advantages and grabs both clawed mutants and slings them in a TK Fastball Special, much to James’s shock. Noting his astonishment Logan reminds him to keep his wits about him as they go flying into battle looking for all the world like father and son as they do. Just then Kitty returns from her recon mission having found what she was looking for. Watching from his viewing room is Mojo himself who simply says “oh…bugger”. As Kitty fills the team in Longshot addresses the viewing public and is clearly giddy at the prospect of coming face to face with his nemesis. Storm berates him for his glee mistaking it for nothing more than opportunistic one-upmanship and popularity seeking, again the dialogue is fraught with nuances of underlying stress and personal insight as he corrects her assuring them all it is simply excitement at the prospect of finally seeing and taking apart Mojo’s command module. Kitty prompts him that now is the time to get happy and leads them on to their target with grim determination.
Sadly with Magnetos team, things aren’t faring so well. They are barely holding their own against the Shi’ar when a new threat emerges from the ground…Krakoa, taking his prompt from the ersatz Apocalypse before him he announces himself, clearly padding his part. As much pleasure as Krakoa seems to take in bluster, Magneto has now gotten used to it and simply agrees, almost humoring the moving mountain while instructing Danger to get them an exit point. Danger seems almost at home, revealing the virtual surroundings they are in are not unlike her own technology. As she expounds on what is clearly for her a fascinating insight, Magneto reminds her of his instruction. She simply counters they don’t need an exit plan as they can simply use Krakoa as a battering ram and points Magneto in the direction he should send it. Once he has ascertained the metal content of the new found projectile and Lorna marvels at their taking instruction from Danger the Magnetic Duo make short work of it and in a team effort on a par with the Storms and the Wolverines before them hurl the massive bulk in the direction she guides them toward, exposing the exit Magneto so desired and giving them a glimpse of the domain beyond their battleground. Magneto takes the time to express his amazement and as Danger takes this to be a reaction to her we can see he means the view they have been afforded. What can only be the domain of their attacker and the end is now in sight.
Back with Kitty and her collective we can see their surroundings are almost a mirror of those we have just witnessed, which lets us know it may not be long until their ranks are added to by their would be rescuers. Standing at the foot of a giant spire it becomes apparent to Angel when Kitty talked of there being heavy fortification she wasn’t referring to guards but that there is no clear way into the massive structure. It seems two great minds indeed do think alike, as Kitty unknowingly follows Dangers lead and prompts them to make a door where there isn’t one. When they blast through they are in Mojo’s control room and a mass of screens each showing a scene of X-History. Images of Cyclops possessed by Apocalypse, Angel pinned to the walls of the sewers, the wounded and bedridden X-Men of the Mutant Massacre, Wolverine impaling Rachel as they argued over Selene, even the Soul Sword Trilogy of Excalibur. Seemingly every dark moment they ever faced alone or as a team, or as Mojo himself announces from an undisclosed location, RESEARCH. While to Bobby it is their future to Kitty, noting herself holding the pupae that was Cassandra Nova in her attempt to escape, it shows their past. Spotting her grown self as Dark Phoenix Jean exclaims whatever it is it’s simply Mojo trying to play with them and in a fit of determined pique blasts the wall of monitors to nothing and reveals Mojo, the Lardy One himself surrounded by minions, amongst them Longshots old foe from many years ago Ma’gog. Get ready X-Men, this is it. The BOSS LEVEL!
What Just Happened?
Right from the offset Rain Beredo’s colors pop and show Mojoworld as the bright and shining place it always was, complimenting Diego Bernard’s opening splash page which draws the eye equally to each of our transported heroes, no mean feat for such a big ensemble. Magneto seems to have lost his hearing when last we saw him in X-Men Blue, as he and his allies had already come face to face with the High Lord Apocalypse and heard Big Blue fully announce his arrival in true regal supervillain fashion. But when we join them in their battle here he still seems clueless as he says “whoever you are…” This prompts Apocalypse to regale us with his nom de guerre in a more grandiose way, almost as if he has looked himself up on Wikipedia since the last issue and decided to recount his many names to impress all and sundry. This was at least helpful to Magneto who took the time in the ensuing diatribe to wrest as much metal as he could to send hurtling as missiles to the External. And from here on in the dialogue is full of comedic moments. Magneto is in fine fettle here with his attempts at berating Danger to lighten the mood as she is in disrepair and also Lorna chiding him for relegating her to the position of mechanic and later on Magneto taking Dangers warning of impending attack as her being ‘arch’ and referring to herself in the third person, Dangers later misunderstanding Magnetos admiration of their surroundings to be about her. Coupled with the nostalgic outfits of Magneto in his M garb and Polaris in her Malice attire it brings back memories of the good old days, especially considering the Marauders past with Malice/Polaris.
Similarly Colossus correcting Bloodstorm for misnaming him, Iceman doing the same to Longshot, James Junior again calling Logan Dad and his discomfort at this and even Jean and Peter exchanging an awkward linguistic moment with her mishearing the word ‘yet’ as ‘nyet’, this is all pure, dare I say it, GOLD! No wonder Mojo feels it’s worth televising their exploits. All going to prove Guggenheim has definitely gotten into the heads of his characters. Jean and Kitty discussing how best to end their plight is, while short and to the point also great character dialogue. No extraneous exposition, just get to the brunt of the problem and figure out a game plan. Marc gives a clear example here as to why Kitty is in charge. This is no doubt an indicator if any were needed that she has a clearly analytical mind which marries well with her background in computers. Many people forget this girl was once head-hunted by Stark to go and work for him during A+X. A good thing she refused and stuck to her home ground. However I did question her leaving Jean in charge while she was away. While it made sense not to ask Storm, who has not only willingly given up leadership but is only even present lately at Kitty’s request, it seemed a missed opportunity to ask Kurt to take the lead. After all he WAS a good leader when they were both in Excalibur (lets forget the N-Men) Maybe in the future she will lean on him a little more. A great leader always utilises the skills of their fellow teammates and Kitty is no exception when it comes to tactics, she knows when to put her trust in the judgement of those around her. Added bonus points for the addition of Ma’Gog who this reviewer can’t remember having seen in the pages of X-Force some twenty one YEARS ago!!! Mind blowing. Also can’t help but note the appearance of Ink this issue, who has been the subject of MUCH speculation given his seeming appearance in the preview art for the upcoming Negative Zone War storyline alongside Armor. Last but not least the covers by Dan Mora and Juan Fernandez have been perfect for this arc, never overcrowding but spotlighting the individual team members and giving a clear indication of the threat level faced. With the reassuring news in the letters page that #21 will not only continue with the same creative team of JP Mayer and Diego Bernard but will also potentially showcase the return of Pyro and Avalanche could we finally be rewarded with the answer to the question of their identities? Its literally looking to be a hot and ground breaking next arc.
Final Thought: The use of matching scenery at the end of the last segment with Magneto and the start of the main teams final battle of this issue shows genius foreshadowing, almost pointing us to the reunion that will surely follow in the final instalment over in X-Men Blue as Magneto is forced to reveal he is still alive. All going toward wrapping up in time for the two teams next separate adventures with Blue in The Cross Time Capers and Gold in The Negative Zone War AKA The Dartayus Odyssey.