COMIC BOOK REVIEW: X-Men Gold #29 (Atlas Shrugged, Colossus Didn’t)

The X-Men race against time in a desperate bid to thwart Lydia Nance and Alpha as they attempt to reawaken the ghost of the Legacy Virus into a deadly new threat.

COVER

X-Men Gold #29

Author: Marc Guggenheim
Artist: Geraldo Borges
Colorist: Arif Prianto
Flashback Artist: David Marquez
Flashback Colorist: Matthew Wilson
Letters: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover: Phil Noto
Publisher: Marvel Comics

What You Need to Know:

The X-Men attempt to rescue Colossus from Lydia’s Savage Land base just in time to witness a rocket shooting up into space with him and Alpha on board, who attempts to extract the Legacy Virus laying dormant in his genes and re-engineer it, with the intent of releasing it into the atmosphere to kill all mutants. They leave Iceman and Pyro in charge of Lydia as they continue on following the rocket, bound for a defunct Roxxon space station. Narrowly avoiding the defense systems of the satellite the remaining team members are then tasked with fending off an attack from Alphas drones, leaving Kitty alone to enter the belly of the beast to rescue Piotr and deal with Alpha before he can set the master plan in motion.

What You’ll Find Out:

As with each previous installment of the arc so far, we open with a flashback on a key milestone moment in the lives of the intended couple. This time it is the horrendous moment that Kitty receives news from Professor X of the drastic sacrifice that Colossus has made to end the threat of the Legacy Virus, just as she is attempting to move on with her life in Chicago. She is visibly devastated.

DEVASTATED

Present time, Piotr is being extensively scrutinized by Alpha, who discovers his x-gene is changed and blithely announces he has reverted it to its original state, coldly going on to inform him there will be discomfort. As Kitty closes in, falling effortlessly through the levels, she contacts the team to see how they are doing and although Gambit’s response is to the negative Rogue assures her she should carry on. Just as Kitty arrives in the lab to find Alpha standing over the prone form of her intended, she takes a swipe at him and he disperses his nanites to avoid her while he calmly reminds her that her power has no effect on him. Defiantly striking at the console she states that she can still affect his tech, as a system failure shuts down the hardware. Adding insult to injury by timing her, Alpha points out the very thing she raced to stop is already in effect.

HA

Going on to calmly tell her the detonation will be in just under five minutes, with the destruction of all mutantkind set to follow ten and a half minutes later, he quietly disperses his nanites. But not before he delivers the coup de gráce, by adding that the station is also set to detonate. As the team realize he is making his exit, Nightcrawler seems relieved and when Prestige asserts that is a bad sign, Kitty confirms, also passing on the news that Peter isn’t looking good. Gambit adds more bad news, noting the craft they arrived in has taken damage and as Kitty says that isn’t a priority he reminds her if the station is going to blow it kind of is. She points out that if they don’t stop the weapon heading to Earth then going home will be pointless. With two minutes to spare Storm resolves to deal with the imminent threat to all mutant life leaving the others to tackle an exit strategy.

KITTEN

Realising she can’t move Peter alone, Kitty calls for some help and Rogue arrives, smashing through walls to get to them. Kitty then calls on Puck who informs her that his crew is dealing with the projectiles Alpha is sending to Earth. Kitty tells him not to worry help is on the way, just as several of them are caught in a web of lighting, heralding the arrival of Storm. He tells her despite the “pretty” that some are still getting through. With under two minutes before Earthfall Pyro chimes in that he can handle them, all the while skimming the Atlantic ocean astride the Blackbird and chanting a mantra of “don’t die” to himself. Kitty tells him to stay on mission and focus. As Rogue asks where Iceman is, Kitty says obliquely he is a working on contingency. As Gambit asks what that is…

EXIT PLAN

Walter arrives not a moment too soon, clearly a sight for sore eyes and tells everyone to get aboard just as the ceiling caves in, leaving Puck worrying at hearing the noise and no one responding. When he states the station is the process of self-destructing and that they need to get aboard their exit craft, Kitty says it’s been pinned under falling debris and jokingly asks if she can be greedy and ask for another. He points out it won’t arrive in time and surely one of her heavy lifters could free it. She simply says there may be a second snag. Behind her, a voice pipes up.

PETER

But she is having none of it and asks Nightcrawler and Gambit to try and wake the others. Piotr says there is no time, just as the station’s automated system announcement interrupts to inform them it will go critical in three minutes and she quips there is still three minutes, which he doesn’t find funny. Kitty asks for a sit-rep from the others and Pyro asks for a second before blasting all threats he can see with seconds to spare and Puck says that three have just entered airspace above South America with no one close to deal with them, but Storm dives into action at the very last second.

SITREP

On the space station, Nightcrawler and Gambit are unable to wake the others, confirming Peter’s assertion that he is their only hope of leaving before the station self-destructs. Kitty worries that they don’t know what Alpha did to him but he won’t back down, it is his burden alone to bear and despite the strain it puts on him he transforms to his armored state. Once he reassures her he is fine she radios the others to get on board and once he gets clear they need to go quickly. With mere seconds to spare Gambit wishes him luck and he replies it isn’t luck he needs. Kitty looks on, frantic with worry for him but he powers through.

LIFT

Just in time he completes the mammoth task of shifting the blockage and allowing their exit before reverting, exhausted back into human form and passing out. Kitty calls to Nightcrawler for extraction duty as she bolts for the hatch, just as Prestige gives Gambit a crash course in piloting instructions of the escape craft, as well as a hefty headache he won’t soon forget, pulled from the mind of an unconscious Dr. Langkowski all in the nick of time.

BOOM

Back on Earth Bobby fills Lydia in on the failure of her plan and she declares he cannot keep her prisoner, to which he reminds her that murder of a species is kind of grounds for her arrest. She goes on to say that isn’t what she means, that Alpha won’t allow her to be left to their tender mercies. As if on cue the ersatz Sentinel ‘clouds’ into shape behind him and prepares to release her. Iceman makes short work of that strategy and reminds her that although he can’t be destroyed Alpha Kitty has surmised he can be put on ice, much to her obvious chagrin. He goes on to bet that all of his composite parts have shown up, but we can see he is wrong.

OTHER IDEAS

Finally safe on Alpha Flight station, Peter is allowed to recover and Kitty stands over his seeming sleeping form, saying that he doesn’t get to die on her this time, that she simply won’t give him permission. Going on to say that they are so close, she begs him not to give up and is relieved to see he isn’t going to, as he wakes up and reminds her that last time he almost died she proposed. And we are left in no doubt what the answer is going to be.

WEDDING

What Just Happened?

Characters: Alpha calmly reverting Piotr to his true state was so offhand and in the context of the story a little of a MacGuffin, but if he truly has this ability can you imagine what he could achieve if he really went to town? It has so much potential and he has the detachment to be able to put science before ethics in a way that would put Sinister to shame. His cool informative nature in telling Kitty the timing of not only her late arrival but that of his devices deployment time and duration to the end of all mutants is every AI-phobes nightmare. Speaking of which it wouldn’t be an end-of-arc finale without at least one of the villains escaping and it looks like he will be showing up again sometime to put a downer on the day. The question is, when? *insert appropriate ominous music here*

WHEN

Again the team each play a vital part and everyone pulls together the way the X-Men should, each playing to their individual strengths. Tactician Kitty sets the plans in motion and keeps the ball rolling keeping everyone to task, Rogue does the smash and grab and provides her support, Storm takes on the big threat with mop-up duty, Nightcrawler ports Colossus last minute, Gambit is pilot, Prestige feeds him the instant training package via psi-link from an unconscious Sasquatch. Even Iceman catches the villains in their last ditch desperate attempt to escape and as for Pyro…he is clearly reveling in the newness of full-on action status. Riding the Blackbird like a surfboard and getting fully into hero mode like a good ‘un. Even poor Colossus reeling from surgery does the heavy lifting. That man is ever the consummate trooper, putting the mission before personal interest, or even his own health and will not be outdone by his teammates whatever ails him physically and not shirk in what he feels is his responsibility. But do we expect any less from the man who sacrificed himself to end the threat of the Legacy Virus last time around? Again though it’s the elementals who steal the show. It’s Storm and her Amazing Friends to the rescue.

ELEMENTS

Art: Phil Noto’s cover is a great showcase of the two lovebirds without giving much away of the story inside and the covers have been fitting throughout and given us a dynamic snapshot of the overall arc. Also, David Marquez and Matthew Wilson again delivered a touching flashback, which has been a fitting part of the narrative. With all couples prior to ‘the Big Day’ there is a certain amount of looking back on the past and this has been no exception and as such the flashbacks have not only informed the ongoing narrative but also fed into the past recollections of the two lead characters here. Geraldo Borges took over again from Michele Bandini and these two artists have passed art duties back and forth between issues and either by luck or design the two styles seem to blend well and not be at all stark in contrast. For example, in comparison many crossovers of the past have suffered from too varied and disparate art styles before and have delivered a jagged shock to the eye in terms of transition between issues (I’m looking at you X-Tinction Agenda) Arif Prianto also has worked great with both artists, giving us a smooth segue from each previous issue and the colours have been a palette of perfection, bright but not too splashy. This issue also showed Kitty and Colossus both at their best, her effortlessly ghosting through floors, letting nothing stand in her way as she homes in on him and he ever the true and stoic strongman never giving up.

COUPLE

Writing: The flashback scene is something new here, in that it isn’t one we are revisiting, but witnessing for the first time. The moment Xavier tells Kitty, which just so happens to be at a rather inopportune moment as she tries to build up the courage to flirt with a boy on University campus grounds in Chicago, is one scene I don’t remember having ever seen before, not between Piotr’s death way back in Uncanny X-Men #390, up to X-Men #110 where she takes his ashes to the Motherland. Once that was dealt with, however, full on action was the order of the day, squeezing it all into the final act of this drama. And though it ran the risk of being a little too much, Guggenheim has paced this arc well so far although as a finale it did come on a little ‘full steam ahead’ for me. With so many different dilemmas going on at once though, it was a definite page turner none the less. In the end, it resolved itself perfectly and each characters spotlight were all well balanced with even cameo cast such as Puck and Sasquatch of Alpha Flight playing key roles. Again, even though Colossus being ‘fixed’ is a bit of a MacGuffin it is a welcome one and it will be good to see him back to full strength. The wedding is up next (maybe) and we all know those can be tricky affairs for superheroes. Although Scott and Jeans went off without a hitch, Kyle and Jean-Paul had a bit of an issue with theirs.

Rating: 8/10

Final Thought: Now the dust has settled we can all breathe and relax, ready for the real drama ahead. The day that’s been nearly thirty-eight years in the making, let the Wedding March begin.

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