With the X-Men already rocked to their foundations by one big shock after another, now is the time for someone to sneak in the back door and make their move.
X-MEN GOLD #31
Writer: Marc Guggenheim
Artist: Pere Pérez
Colors: Jay David Ramos & Matt Milla
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover: Phil Noto
Publisher: Marvel Comics
What You Need to Know:
After several confrontations, the X-Men have captured Mesmero and given him over to be arrested and placed in The Box. After these and other events caused Kitty to reassess her feelings she accepts Piotr’s proposal of marriage, but then leaves him at the altar, resulting in the surprise proposal of Remy to Anna Marie being the event nobody was expecting to witness.
What You’ll Find Out:
The band has gone home, the confetti has been swept up, the marquee has been taken down and the X-Wedding is finally over! It’s the day after and Rachel awakens in a hotel bed looking for her lover Kurt. Walking into the bathroom she is shocked to find him unconscious at the feet of Mesmero. Dodging her attack Vincent appears behind her and reveals he’s been working on her mental capacity for months, taking instant control of her. Meanwhile, Kitty has caught up to Peter outside the same hotel where they have all been staying and confronts him about leaving without saying goodbye. He confesses he wants to leave and go to Russia, anywhere but there as he can’t focus.
Their conversation is interrupted as we find ourselves in the future we know too well by now, that of the mutant internment camp overseen by the Sentinels. Kate is mulling over her memories, seemingly that of the day we have just witnessed. Ororo and Kurt arrive dressed in the familiar green overalls of mutant prisoners and report that Forge has the jammer ready to help them attempt their escape. As Kate reminds them that many may die in the attempt someone speaks up to contradict, stating that to stay will be certain death for all of them. Cyclops and Forge arrive, Scott wearing a patch over one eye and Ororo hands him a visor, for old times sake. Forge activates the jammer and everyone makes their move, set in motion by Cyclops sending a signal into the sky in his trademark style.
Armor, Ink, and Anole take action, but Ink is blasted out of the sky by a Sentinel, much to the shock of his friends and Storm puts the Sentinel out of commission but not before Anole also falls. As Avalanche makes an exit for the escapees Colossus and Kate perform a Fastball Special disabling another Sentinel.
Cyclops asks Armor where Storm is and it falls to her to inform him she is dead. As everyone makes good their escape to the streets of Paterson New Jersey, they finally let down their guard and Peter and Kate discuss her being pregnant, just as Peter is shot from behind. Kate leaps for the guard and falls to a psychic attack, alerting everyone to the presence of the only one that can perform such an attack. Guard controlled hound and Kurt’s wife Rachel has arrived and as Kurt seems to be talking her down she suddenly relapses and attacks, even as she apologizes, knocking him down with a TK blast. Scott begs her to stop and appeals to her, reminding her she is his daughter, but to no avail as she dispatches him with a gesture. As the guard gloats and demands she deal with them, any further attack is stopped as he is engulfed in a blast of flame and Rachel herself gets a cold blast of ice. Iceman and Pyro are on hand to deal with her and tell her all is not as it seems.
What Just Happened?
Art: Another awesome cover by Phil Noto showing the true anguish and repercussions of last issues events. Pere Pérez, Jay David Ramos, and Matt Milla do a wonderful job of bringing the good old ‘Days’ back to life with apocalyptic imagery that is the no holds barred dystopian future, also showing the same tunnels from Uncanny X-Men #141. And where last time Rachel saw Franklin die, this time it’s Kate who loses Peter (which kind of adds to the tragedy, given what we witness them going through in their breakup just pages earlier) And seeing them perform a Fastball Special in the absence of Wolverine was a definite winner for me, cementing in my mind that they are a team just by themselves. Also seeing Old Man Cyclops, who looks so much like his AOA counterpart, having lost the exact same eye I noticed, was an interesting nod and nice use of his power as a call to arms. Similarly, the sight of Ink dying at the hands of a Sentinel was also echoing back to Uncanny X-Men #142 with Wolverine’s death. And Storm dealing the retribution and performing the same maneuver way back when is practically mirrored here in a great echoing touch.
From Old Man Cyclops right up to the death of Storm the shocks kept coming. The X-Men fall like tenpins here and it’s clear that anything can happen because it’s not real. A set up on a par with the ‘Dallas’ Bobby Ewing shower scene of yesteryear (only 80’s kids will know this one) but it’s still shocking to see. From Anole, Ink, and Storm dying at the hands of the Sentinels, to Nightcrawler, Kitty and Cyclops so easily taken out by Rachel and even Colossus shot so casually and brutally from behind, we can see the artists and writer had some fun taking every player out of the game for the sheer hell of it.
Writing: Mark Guggenheim has done the X-Men serious justice here and now it seems a shame we are losing this title. First the Clarebyrne Hotel, a loving shout out to two of the men who shaped the X-Men we all know and love to this day. Also to see the Days of Future Past revisited, even as just a psychic illusion, was something to behold. This future timeline is nothing new here of course. Since the original Days of Future Past, we have seen this world several times. First revisited in Days of Future Present, with the Uncanny X-Men, New Mutants, X-Factor, Fantastic Four annual crossover of 1990. Then Rachel and Excalibur fixing the reality once and for all Days of Futures Yet To Come in Excalibur #67 in 1993. And not to mention Weapon X: Days of Future Now in the mini-series in 2005.
Where it could be said that we’ve seen it all before and nothing is as good the third (or fourth) time around, it does try to do something different in that this ISN’T that reality but someone manipulating Rachel into believing it IS. Fear is the mindkiller and it’s the fear this plays on her subconscious and the ease with which those fears are drawn out that makes it different. All of this fresh on the heels of the wedding leaves the X-Men (and us) reeling. As well as all this the ‘Talk’ between Kitty and Piotr is no less brutal than the unfolding events here and was most assuredly very essential. Last issue their feelings were kind of brushed aside for the obvious high drama of the wedding that DID occur. Now we see that things are far more complicated than was first shown when the jilting occurred, as it did look like they had already made peace with the fallout, which was far too quick in my opinion. And we also see the steps necessary for Peter to move over to that OTHER new X-Men team become painfully clear. Some true pathos revealed and as such the writing has shown some real depth here.
Characters: The nightmare future we all know so well is the main character here. The Days of Future Past had a very large impact on us the fans in the past, just as much as the X-Men, especially Rachel. So much so it scarred her physically and mentally for many years. Her introduction to the X-Men was colored by it, in that she ran from the mansion in horror when she first arrived, at the vast difference to her world. She was also in frantic shock at learning Jean Grey was dead and was inconsolable. And her time in her own reality also caused her to commit drastic action far adverse to Xavier’s dream in regards to Selene, attempting to kill her. An action which also had repercussions for her with regards Wolverine confronting her to stop her, leaving the X-Men and ending up a pawn of Mojo and Spiral, before joining Excalibur with Kitty and Kurt. So it’s no surprise that Mesmero (and I think he is also an illusion and it’s really Nova who will be revealed to be behind it all) is clearly using her worst fears here, manipulating her into some drastic action. So maybe not the villain she is being touted as? At least not in this reviewers opinion. I may be biased, due to Rachel being a personal favorite of mine, but to me being mentally controlled doesn’t make someone a villain. After all, Kitty herself fell in the same way when she was manipulated by Cassandra in Astonishing X-Men #17, as have several others in the past, to both Nova and Mesmero. If that person still behaves that way when the control wears off, however, then that’s a different story. And the effect so far is catastrophic. Rachel dispatching both her husband and also her father in such an offhand way shows she is truly under the thrall and clearly it isn’t over. The X-Men must now fight the future they always dreaded. Rachel, Phoenix, Marvel Girl, Revenant, even Prestige is no more, only the Hound remains.
Final Thought: Will Rachel be the villain or merely the pawn in the events to come?
X-Men Gold #32 On Sale 18th July 2018!
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