The true reason for the return of the Asgardian hammer must now be answered as Storm faces the death of a loved one.
X-MEN GOLD #33
Writer: Marc Guggenheim
Artist: Michele Bandini
Colors: Erick Arciniega
Letters: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover: Phil Noto
Publisher: Marvel Comics
What You Need to Know:
Stormcaster has mysteriously returned to the hand of Ororo Munro and while its re-emergence has been put to the back of everyone’s mind after recent troubles, the question must now be answered.
What You’ll Find Out:
A month ago and Ainet, a surrogate mother to Ororo, is running scared. A new god has laid claim to the mantle and is running things. Beset by those who would have her renounce her ways and join them she summons the old gods to help her, unusually not even to her own daughter, as before. Her answer comes from Asgard and so smiling she dies. And to the present we find Rachel undergoing psychic evaluation from Jean who gives her a clean bill of health, although Kitty and Kurt are unsure she is ready for field work so soon. Rachel has only one question.
On to Storm, who attends a meeting after receiving an email from a member of the Wakandan Consulate who still calls her Queen, to receive news of the death of her mother in Uzuri and that a death cult has taken control. Packing to leave she insists Kitty allow her to go alone, the team already in disarray, but promising to call if there is trouble. Trouble is also on Kurt’s mind as he has lunch with Rachel, who announces her anxiety has made her decide to end things between them. Though Kurt seems to think all is well, Rachel isn’t convinced it’s safe and there is still a threat.
Storm has arrived in the village of her youth and seeks answers from Hiari, a village elder, about the new god Uovu, who seems to brush off claims of a death cult and tries to allay her fears, instead of distracting her by offering to take her to pay her respects to Ainet. Nearby the new god overhears and his followers decide to eliminate her before she becomes a threat. He is not so sure and believes the best course of action is to win her over to the cause. Meanwhile, the subject of the conversation is herself pondering her past and wondering on what has gone before.
After which she insists on meeting with the new head of the village, despite Hiari’s concerns about meddling. Storm insists it’s just curiosity and downplays it, claiming she always loves to learn about new religions. But Hiari is unsure she should be looking around under cover of darkness, telling her it isn’t her village anymore. Suddenly a voice speaks up from the darkness and says that is a harsh judgment. Uovu makes his appearance, smiles and apparently welcomes Storm. Instinctively Storm feels a threat and summons Stormcaster to her, transforming into her Asgardian garb. Though he states he is impressed, the new ruler of Uzuri apparently has some conjuring tricks of his own.
What Just Happened?
Characters: Having Jean guest is always a pleasure, but no moment with her best bud Ororo? Nice to see mom and daughter moment for Jean and Rachel and having them in panel together and conversing well is a bonus, though the clean bill of health is surely not valid as we know there is a more underlying threat coming from Cassandra Nova, even if Mesmero was dealt with…so very quickly and conveniently. Speaking of mom’s, Ainet is the perfect character to use to bring Storm home and also to be the cause of the return of Stormcaster. The fact she prays to her gods and her answer comes from Asgard is no less believable than any other, being as Marvel has a pantheon of Gods of many backgrounds that share the same space. And finally, the realization of its return is brought to light and isn’t actually that much of a reach. Ainet is also, in essence, the reason Ororo grew into the woman she was to become, from the troubled pawn of Achmed El-Gibar and was also the one who, before even Xavier, taught her the true cost of the use of her powers and how they affected the balance of nature around them. As well as being a priestess and practitioner of magic, part of Storms heritage, she is also the woman who called Storm to her once before in X-Men #76, again using magical means, when her home was under threat from Ananasi (Shadow King) during the Psi-War. However that time she went with the X-Men and not alone and didn’t refuse aid as she did here.
Writing: Which is why it is odd that this story has her refuse any help and demands to go alone. And it also doesn’t ring true that it opens with her people worshipping a new god, knowing their old god would never return…when she already HAS. Although the explanation of faith, like nature, abhorring a vacuum does make sense, it is a little insulting to assume these people would fall so easily to a false god when they know full well their old one is still out there, has been back to aid them once before already and after so recently fighting the Adversary, practically next door, has even been confirmed by the King of Wakanda himself to be a true goddess. And also Storm admonishing herself for not inviting her ‘mother’ to her wedding? This again as though she hadn’t recently been nearby in Wakanda. Surely that would have been a more current and raw regret? Interesting use of the word Uovu as the name of the new god, being as it’s religious connotations come from Swahili, which does fit very well, as Uzuri also means beauty or goodness. The fight between good and evil? Is Marc Guggenheim that deep? Let’s wait and see. The ‘will they won’t they’ of Rachel and Kurt is seemingly answered, but it is possible she will regain some confidence after whatever is happening with Cassandra Nova resolves itself. It is a little frustrating to have things end when this relationship has been so easily forced into the story though. I don’t understand why Guggenheim tried so hard to crowbar it in only to drop it so quickly. I can only assume with the title ending in three issues he is attempting to tie up loose ends that he had building for a long time? I’m not convinced that’s the case, but let’s go with that, shall we.
Art: Luckily the art is easier on the eye than the goings on, that’s for sure and is the only reason I scored as I did. If it weren’t for the art it would have been far lower. I have never understood the constant bait and switch of artists on this book and would like to see at least the arc completed by one at a time. The work of Michele Bandini has been sorely missed and hasn’t been seen since X-Men Gold #26 where we saw the team go up against Mesmero in sunny Santa Marco, the boys night out in Vegas and then #28 and the space station battle with Alpha, where Storm again exhibited her transformation into her Asgardian attire. Despite the negative feedback about Storm using the hammer from many I do like seeing them get up as it is an interesting look for her. He also does very well with outdoor scenery in Kenya and the colors of Erick Arciniega make me want to go on safari as the skies look awesome and almost photo real. With another great Phil Noto cover, showing the glorious Storm it is a sight for sore eyes and a long time coming.
Final Thought: Finally Storm gets the spotlight, but is it too little too late?
Storm must battle a mysterious figure from her past! But with the true nature of Stormcaster revealed, can she trust her powers any more?
X-Men Gold #34 On Sale August 22 2018!
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