Crash landing on an unknown planet within the Negative Zone the weary, wounded and separated X-Men count the cost and rally round to find a way home. Can they get off the inhospitable planet before the local wildlife makes a meal of them all?
X-MEN GOLD #20
Writer: Marc Guggenheim
Inker: JP Mayer
Colorist: Frank Martin
Publisher: Marvel Comics
What You Need to Know:
After disposing of Kologoth and his ultimate weapon Scythian, the X-Men crash land on yet another alien planet in the Negative Zone with no way home. The very fate of an X-Man in the balance and time is running out.
What You’ll Find Out:
The X-Men are apparently stranded and scattered to the elements with a different trial each. Storm emerges from a merciless sandstorm she cannot control and is aware this isn’t her only dilemma as she is being hunted by an unknown creature that calls the inhospitable landscape its home. Some miles away Eric comes round to find himself hanging upside down and tangled in various cables of the wreckage of the Dartayan ship. Breaking free he calls out to any survivors and makes critical observations about Kurt’s piloting skills. A voice in the dark leads him to the erstwhile pilot himself who remarks that any landing you can walk away from is a good one. This then would not be one of those and Ink points this out when he sees he is currently impaled on some wreckage. Typically Kurt is more concerned about the others and asks where they are and Ink says they seem to be alone. Kurt then asks how Ink plans to get him out and Ink answers in the only way possible.
Meanwhile in an undisclosed location in another section of the wreckage, Armor comments on Logans method of waking her by hitting her as she rubs a sore chin. Deciding not to dwell on it he walks away and reminds her they need to find the others. Hisako wonders aloud if he intends to hit them too, exclaiming that they don’t even know if they are alive. He discounts her assertion that the crash was bad enough to kill them, of course, they are alive, they are X-Men. Kitty and Colossus could be set to make a liar of him, however. Exposed in the wasteland and surrounded by the brutal storm he is lying barely conscious while she supports him and tries to talk him into taking on his metal form for protection as the exertion of phasing them from the unforgiving sandstorm is proving increasingly taxing. As the sand envelops them Peter mutters his doubts.
Utilising some wreckage as a weapon Storm is fending off an attack from a rather large predator intent on making her part of its diet. Musing on the fact a lightning bolt would sway the odds in her favor as a swiping claw connects, she retaliated and makes ready to deal the killing blow. There can be no doubt here that she will not be beaten. Taking a moment to gather her strength she muses aloud as to what Logan would think if he could see her. I like to think she’s referring to her Logan and not Old Man Logan. Elsewhere Kurt and Ink discuss the use of Ink’s power to heal, granted by the tattoo on his hand, recognizable as that of the universal symbol of medicine Caduceus, the snake coiled around the Rod of Aesclepius. Kurt is at first unconvinced by Ink’s assertion that he’s watched every episode of Grey’s Anatomy however, he allows him to do his thing and is surprised to find it works. As they set off in search of the others Logan and Hisako arrive and Ink informs them he’s been unable to connect with anyone telepathically. Logan again repeats his assertion no one is dying on his watch. Meanwhile, Kitty and Peter are still stranded and unable to move and as she pleads with him that she is too tired he implores her to leave him, telling her he will always love her as he is fading out of consciousness. Meanwhile, on the wreck, the gathered group are deciding on the best course of action and Logan says splitting up to look for communications or scout craft is the best course of action while Ink keeps them psi-linked. As Hisako wonders how they can do this on an alien ship, Kurt thinks he knows just the thing. Ink asks Kurt if he believes what Logan says about the others being alive. As always Kurt relies on his faith, but Ink isn’t so sure everyone will make it back alive.
As if hearing him Kitty is crouched, grief-stricken and crying over the prone form of Peter. Showing the true grit she has always had and the stubborn streak we know her to possess she pounds his chest demanding he hears her and comes back to her. Storm arrives, grim and steadfast into the fray and reassures her she is heard at least by someone. Helping her carry the limp body of Colossus she gives Kitty the bad news she is unable to do anything about the weather. Now in company Kitty’s usual aplomb resurfaces and she remarks that this isn’t good. As Ororo leads the way Kitty asks how she can be so sure of where they are headed. Storm simply states she senses the way back to the wreckage they were thrown from. Kitty concedes to her wisdom seeing as she doesn’t really have any better ideas as she reassures Peter they are closer to rescue.
The other crash survivors check out the damaged engine room and Ink asks why they are there as the wreckage is nothing but scrap, it will never fly. Kurt asserts it doesn’t need to, his time as a prisoner on another of the Dartayan dimension hopping spacecraft gave him the knowledge of alien travel he needed in the shape of a device he pulls out of the wreckage. Hisako asks if it’s a portal generator and he replies yes, it is exactly what she suspects. While they question how to power it Ink states in shock the others are alive, barely, as he has received a telepathic heads up. He flies off while telling the others to stay put and Logan comments where else he thinks they can go. Armor goes one better and asks where Ink thinks HE is going. He arrives in the heart of the storm to find the errant X-Men making their way towards the wreckage. He offers to help carry them all and Kitty asks him to just carry Peter and also for a sit-rep. As he fills them in he gives the others the news of what he has found. Logan and Kurt confer about the required electricity needed to power the device in time for Storm to arrive and tell them her powers aren’t working. Logan plays hard-ball and tells her to dig deep or all of their lives are at risk. Playing good cop to his bad cop Kurt tries a more amicable method of conveying his belief in her. Ink tells them he has stabilized Peter and asks what the game plan is and Logan points out it’s entirely up to Storm. Once again Ororo gathers her strength and provides the much-needed surge of energy to kick the portal generator into life. As Logan commends her on a job well-done Ink states he will gather the others.
Two days later and back at the school, Kitty and Peter are watching the rebuilding work and discussing what he remembers of their ordeal. As he pointedly brings up her breaking his ribs she retorts that CPR was preferable to death. Also rebuking his response that he had asked her to abandon him by clarifying that wouldn’t be an option, she confides in him that the situation gave her some clarity and she has decided she never wants to be without him again and bringing up his recent offer she asks if it’s still valid. When he asks what she means she replies…
What Just Happened?
Nightcrawler’s looking to have gained a secondary mutation here. Getting impaled on things seems to be an occupational hazard with him lately. Someone who doesn’t have a secondary mutation though is Old Man Logan. His bedside manner with Hisako is somewhat lacking considering she was far more charitable when he was unconscious after the attack on the mansion a few issues ago and the tough guy shtick is getting a little old, especially the way he later tries to manipulate Storm into action. Which brings me to the HUGE plot development here. Yes, I’m talking about Storm. Finally, after so long taking the back seat in the action she gives a clear indication of what all the Danger Room training the X-Men to endure is all about. Alone, without powers, completely out of her element in an inhospitable climate and hunted by a dangerous predator she masters the enemy under insurmountable odds and shows why, as countless times before, she is not only a survivor but a consummate warrior of the highest order. Again Diego’s facial expressions are sharp and emotive as she arrives just in the nick of time and Kitty agonizes over the prone form of her beloved.
Later the walk back to the wreckage was an interesting one as Kitty is talking to Colossus and reassuring him all will be well. I wonder whose benefit it’s for, Peter or herself. Nice little bit of human insight being shown there. I have been unconvinced with Guggenheim’s interpretation of these much-loved characters lately. But this little touch actually got to me. This latest dilemma seems to have finally kicked some of the stubbornness out of her and she has decided to take the plunge. Though some see this as rushed, it has been stop-start for far too many years. The announcement of the forthcoming nuptials taking place in issue 30 may have a part to play here as not only is it a development approximately 30 years in the making but it also coincides with the issue number of another x-couple wedding…some of you may be aware of them? As with the last arc, the drama and climax here were considerably more interesting and intense than the lead-up. Kidnapping, battling separatist alien hordes and supposed gods have come off a little anticlimactic in comparison. Each of the fallen comrades facing their own dilemma and dealing with it the only way they know how was actually quite intense.
Final Thought: Despite the big reveal at the end Storm is the runaway winner, in my opinion, this issue and it’s been a long time coming. Whether it be in a powerless duel for leadership against Cyclops or for the lives of her teammates against Callisto she rises to the occasion unbeaten…EVERY single time.
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