REVIEW: X-Men Gold #25 (The Sword Is Drawn….Once More)

The B team have barely got their breath back after dealing with the threat of The Shredded Man when Scythian arrives to wreak his revenge on the homeworld of those who dared stand against him.

 

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X-MEN GOLD #25
Author: Marc Guggenheim
Pencils: Paulo Siqueira & José Luiz
Inks: Cam Smith & Victor Olazaba
Colors: Arif Prianto, Java Tartaglia & Juan Fernandez
Letters: Cory Petit
Cover: Ryan Stegman & Edgar Delgado
Publisher: Marvel Comics

What You Need to Know:
The X-Men have been incarcerated after a misunderstanding with law enforcement, due to the machinations of Mesmero and Lydia Nance. While behind bars it falls to a reserve team to pull a late rescue of the city after an attack by Ivan Guerrero, AKA the Shredded Man. Led by Iceman and Rogue and including the new recruit Pyro, they in part succeed thanks to Pyro, who manages to earn their trust and his place on the team.

What You’ll Find Out:
After a brief opening shot of Scythian in France repeating his Godzilla impersonation from the attack on Dartayus, a quick location change has the B team facing off against Rhino in Times Square as Armor draws the attention of Magik to what is happening on the news. As Illyana introduces Aleksei to the joys of Limbo we see two of the imprisoned X-Men are also watching the unfolding drama in Paris and Peter and Kurt discuss not only the fact Colossus should be planning a wedding right now, but how all this could even be happening, not to mention the ramifications of this new development. One person noticeably absent from the scene is Ororo, who is currently struggling with the resurfacing of her claustrophobia. In true Storm style though, she digs deep to not only bury the fear but also short out her control collar, as a bolt of lightning heralds her returned powers. In short order she takes out the prison roof, alerting the guards to her change in condition and she simply looks up at the sky, ignoring them as they vainly attempt to make her surrender.

 

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In another brief segue into underlying events elsewhere, we witness the ruins of Asgard and a hammer lying in the rubble. Stormcaster senses Storms dilemma…and acts. Meanwhile, the husband and wife team of the British superhero community are rallying to face the threat in Paris as Meggan addresses Brian’s idea of a romantic getaway. Captain Britain notes that Scythian is affecting the local weather patterns and Meggan replies that it’s fortuitous he brought an elemental with him to help, though she soon learns she has overestimated her ability to deal with the god alone as he simply backhands her. As Captain Britain catches his wife mid flight they are contacted by the arriving X-Men, who fill them in, via a telepathic uplink form Ink, on just what it is they are dealing with and Iceman tells them to keep him busy until they arrive.

 

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As they attempt to go up against an alien god, Illyana is facing a slightly less demanding foe as she tackles the prison warden about the goings on in Paris. She points out that although there are many superheroes that could face him, the only who have actually managed to make an impact before are his guests behind bars. As if on cue Storm makes her presence known and she has some thoughts on how her detainment isn’t really suiting her. But as she launches into her reasoning for no longer putting up with the judicial system Magik draws her attention to more pressing matters which puts a whole new spin on things. Storm has had enough, it’s time to go.

 

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While she negotiates the terms of her release the rest of Magik’s team are heading to Paris, also to help the beleaguered heroes and Iceman gives everyone their orders. Pyro realizes his name was not mentioned and thinks he is benched because of his links to Mesmero. Bobby states it’s more for his protection due to his lack of battle experience, but to be ready if things get bad. As he asks how he will know when things are bad he gets his answer.

 

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Launching into action Ink and Armor remind Iceman that only a black hole stopped Scythian before and even that hasn’t actually worked. Iceman states as they don’t have on handy they will have to use the good old fashioned tactic of brute force, which Captain Britain doesn’t believe will be enough. As if to prove him wrong Ink and Rogue stage a two-pronged attack and Rogue resorts to touching Scythian to take him out. The result is less than she had hoped, overwhelmed she falls unconscious to the ground. Armor tells Magma to stay with Ink and keep hitting while she dives to save Rogue. As Magma reminds her she can’t fly Hisako catches her just in time to go crashing through the roof of what looks like the Paris Opera House and hope her armor can protect them both.

 

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As the rest of the gathered heroes attempt to calm the panicking crowds Iceman wonders where Magik is with the liberated X-Men. After a brief discussion about traveling methods and an outfit change in Limbo, they arrive in time to see the looming figure of Scythian as, inside the nearby abandoned building Armor attempts to revive Rogue, with a little help from Meggan. As Kitty and the Prisoner X team arrive to help, a relieved Magma comments it’s about time, referring not to them but to Rogue, Armor, and Meggan who also return. Kitty explains to set her new plan in motion she needs Storm to calm the weather while everyone else takes on the behemoth above them and Rachel guards Magik, who is to conjure up the mother of all stepping discs to trap him so she can deliver the KO. When Kurt asks what that will be she says he doesn’t want to know as she instructs him to port her to the jet. On their arrival, they discover an unwanted guest who they find is actually their latest recruit.

 

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Kitty has Nightcrawler teleport Pyro out of the craft despite his assertion he wants to help, as she has need of it alone. Outside and Storm just has time to note the very winds reacting to the presence of Scythian as she sees she has another surprise in store. Stormcaster has arrived. Down below the X-Men are all maneuvering Scythian into position in time for Magik to create the largest stepping disc she has ever managed trapping him. Just in time, Storm arrives for Colossus to comment on the return of her old Asgardian weapon and for her to lend her awesome power to the effort. Finally, Kitty delivers the coup de grâce as she crashes the jet into Scythian and destroys him once and for all, but not before Peter has a wobbly moment of worry and Kitty assuages his fears as she walks clear of the wreckage. As the dust settles the whole team gather and asks the all-important question…

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From the comfort of her home in Sands Point Lydia Nance watches as the news reports not only their success but the fact the incident has turned the tide of opinion against the Mutant Deportation Act and remarks on the idiocy of such a decision when her musings are interrupted from out of nowhere by none other than the AI Sentinel the X-Men faced fairly recently, who makes the bold statement that he intends to destroy them in a way she couldn’t with legislation. She barely misses a beat and retorts that she is unconvinced as he failed before, but he has evolved since then, mutated even. Lydia makes it clear she doesn’t like that term but he tells her not to get hung up on terminology and reveals he has a plan using none other than the groom to be, Peter Rasputin to destroy everything with an x-gene.

 

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What Just Happened?
Just about over the moon with this issue. The action throughout was far more cohesive than has been in recent battles and despite the large crew involved everyone had a vital part to play and were each equally as involved. And I for one wasn’t prepared for the prison exit this issue, I had thought it might take a while still, so it was a pleasant surprise to see so many X-Men actually fight together and do it so well. Especially after the dire Danger Room situation and the less than glorious resolution to the battle with Guerrero. Guggenheim manages to fit so much into this and make it all work so well. First Captain Britain and Meggan are back for another guest appearance, giving us another Excalibur reunion. I hope this trend keeps up, I’d thought we’d seen the last of them after the recent annual. Then not only did Storm show the full regal ferocity we know and love her for during the prison liberation, but we got Stormcaster in the bargain as well? Although she was already a force to be reckoned with before the arrival of the magic hammer, it was the advantage the team needed to deal with Scythian once and for all. I was worried last issue at seeing her revert to her old fears of claustrophobia, but that was all laid to rest after just a brief moment of doubt when she quickly quashes those fears. Our Windrider resurfaces, taking out her control collar and the prison roof in short order. Those collars aren’t all ‘that’ are they?

 

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The art here really showcases the talents of Sequiera and Luiz on pencils, Smith and Olazaba on inks and also last but not least Prianto, Tartaglia, and Fernandez with some dazzling colors. This whole team seems to really get their teeth into the action. From the image of Rogue, shocked at the contact with Scythian, right through Armor and her life-saving plunge, down to Meggan lending them a hand. Also much has to be said of Storm. From first arriving on the scene, then wielding the powerful magic hammer once gifted to her by one God and using it to give another deity a headache. All very beautifully drawn. Not to mention the image of the ex-prisoners emerging from a stepping disc. Every bit of drama was perfectly staged and I could almost hear theme music for each characters arrival. Every scene with Storm had her in full energy crackling glory and showed her true beauty. Even dressed in orange overalls standing defiantly in front of Warden Cashman she is a sight to behold and finally back front and center in the action.

 

Eagle-eyed readers may have also spotted that all important question “What do we do with twelve X-Men?” It is far from being a new one asked among the merry mutants and is usually followed by a huge shake-up in the roster. The first time we heard this asked was oh so many years ago by Angel in Giant-Size X-Men #1 before the formation of the Second Genesis team. Then again years later in the Muir Isle Saga epilogue of X-Factor #70, Xavier asks Beast this same question, which preceded the 90’s incarnation which gave us the split Blue and Gold teams. If we are to believe we are following a trend (twelve then thirteen) then by all rights it SHOULD now have been fifteen this time ’round, but we will take what we can get….although Meggan and Brian? Just putting it out there Marvel.

Rating: 9/10

Final Thought: So what ARE we going to do with fourteen X-Men? And I’m not talking wedding table plans.


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