After a pitched battle with Mesmero’s New Brotherhood the X-Men are on the ropes..can they save the day and their own skins?
X-MEN GOLD #22
Author: Marc Guggenheim
Artist: Diego Bernard
Inker: JP Mayer
Colors: Arif Prianto & Java Tartaglia
Letters: VC’s Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel Comics
What You Need to Know:
Without Logan tagging along, the new line-up which now includes a revived Prestige and longtime ally Magma, have fallen whilst going up against the New Brotherhood for the second time. On the lookout for payback for being previously used by Mesmero, Magma went in against the plan and earned the team a resounding thrashing. Only Pryde still stands and is held fast by the new Pyro and Avalanche.
What You’ll Find Out:
Before returning to the action we are treated to a glimpse into the past and a young girl runs and cowers behind the sofa of her fathers Long Island home, who screams after her that he intends to inflict a world of hurt for running away from him. As he grabs her and throws her to the floor we discover two things. Firstly the father is a mutant, his face clearly covered in scales. Secondly, who the child is…a petrified Lydia Nance.
The same facial expression is frozen on the countenance of adult Lydia as she witnesses the spectacle unfolding before her. As she watches Kitty held captive by her one-time pawns we are made aware that the X-Men have been shamming….which is a relief. Well, all except Amara who is out for the count. Back in full command mode, Pryde instructs the team to leap into action on her signal. When Storm asks what the signal will be she makes it clear by going full-on ninja against the two Brothers holding her and the others spring into action and pick their targets.
Rachel takes on Mesmero who comments his admiration for her masking her thoughts from him. Pryde (girl needs a code name stat) warns Avalanche to stay down and he points out she seems to have mistaken him for his namesake as he proves his powers work on people as well as Terra Firma, which causes Colossus to play knight in shining organic steel.
As Prestige and Mesmero test each others mental dominance Pyro chimes in that the target was supposed to be the mutant-hating Lydia Nance and her fundraising goons, (he seems to have gotten over his reticence to cause trouble last issue) Mesmero tells him all will be revealed and to make good his escape in the helicopter he has planned to arrive. Pyro doubts the X-Men will let them go but Mesmero counters that they won’t even know as they will just disappear. As if to prove him right Kitty and Colossus exclaim their shock that Pyro and Avalanche have taken off. Immediately figuring it to be the mental manipulation of Mesmero (see what I did there?) she targets him as Nightcrawler rushes to see to Rachel (aaah bless) who is more concerned Mesmero is still at large. Kitty puts their minds at ease warning him that her phased hand could go solid in his head rendering him less of a threat and demands to know where Nance and the other villains are. He calls her bluff knowing she won’t kill and points out she has enough to worry about with his new playmates. Enter Omega Red, X-Cutioner, The Black King and the Sentinel they tackled recently.
As Mesmero comments his Brotherhood consists of more than two members and not even all of them are mutants (doesn’t that define the very essence of the team?) and fades away with a grin. As her team tackles the new arrivals Kitty smells a rat and tells them to stand down. Ignoring her Nightcrawler teleports X-Cutioner high above the boat and Storm treats Shaw to a spin on the dance-floor. Prestige also figures something isn’t as it seems and Kitty confirms it’s a trick in time to find Colossus gripping, not the Sentinel he believes he has by the throat, but a rather shocked policeman. Suddenly it’s clear that the enemy they were tackling was in fact armed response police who demand they lie down. As Colossus asks what this mean the answer becomes clear. They are under arrest. Kitty tells her team to stand down and accept arrest.
Safely back in their warehouse, the Brotherhood filled in by their leader that this was the plan all along, not to attack Lydia, she has paid them off with a full bank account. Simon isn’t pleased that they were in the employ of a mutant hater and Mesmero points out it was her who got them out of prison in the first place. Simon says that is nothing to be pleased about as she wants to legally deport all mutants, which Vincent insists won’t get passed and what does he care, he’s a criminal already. Simon walks off in disgust, throwing his bank paperwork to the floor stating he doesn’t intend to leave it this way. Avalanche picks up his share and asks Mesmero if he can keep it if Simon doesn’t want it.
Back in a holding cell Kitty is met by Jennifer Walters, attorney at large (AKA She-Hulk) who informs her that she won’t be getting them out anytime soon, much to Kitty’s shock but are headed for the mutant holding facility The Box, recent home to the Brotherhood, who themselves are at-large thanks to Mesmero who scrambled the memories of the witnesses to see the culprits being the X-Men. Jennifer hopes subpoenaing the witnesses cell phones will render some video evidence of what really happened. She warns Kitty that it’s not going to be fast and the X-Men will have to cool their heels under arrest and let her go to work. Kitty is concerned about what will happen to the kids at the school. Jen tries to set her mind at ease that the Avengers or Champions will take care of them and asks why she’s so worried. Kitty can’t pinpoint what it is that’s worrying her. As if in answer Annihilus is poised at the gate of the Negative Zone with his scientist lackeys who are concerned about the readings coming from the gate. He is however undaunted contrary to the evidence in front of his very eyes. A giant hand precedes the emergence of a giant form who dwarfs even Annihilus as he scatters those in his way including Annihilus himself. Scythian has arrived. The revered Dartayan god recently thought dealt with and seemingly out for revenge against those who attempted to destroy him…The X-Men.
What Just Happened?
Once again yet another flashback opens the issue, this time it’s the turn of another of the new antagonists plaguing the X-Men, Lydia Nance the mastermind (pardon the pun) of the whole operation. And in case there is any doubt her father even says her full name, just so we are clear. We’ve all had it happen, some parents do call out their child’s full (including middle) names to emphasize how annoyed they are. But to make the threats then end with the name just didn’t read well for me and so, threw the whole narrative off. If the reason was to point out to the reader who it is then the images alone would express it perfectly, as the facial expression was exactly the same in the next panel when it’s clearly an adult Lydia on the boat during the Brotherhood attack. Sometimes less is more. Also, the adult Lydia is apparently exhibiting the same horror she felt as a child. But we find later she engineered the whole thing so this now doesn’t even resonate as genuine. Which is a shame because the flashback followed by her fear of the present attack ACTUALLY informed the motivation for her hate all this time (seems there is a CREED of humans following this pattern)…
So Kitty felt she’d bungled them into the mess? Her plan wasn’t for the team to sham being caught in the first place? What WAS the original plan then and when did they all decide to play possum? Or maybe it was the plan all along, she just had second thoughts and decided it wasn’t the best plan. I can sympathize. Speaking of which, Colossus and Nightcrawler suddenly rush to the defense of their girls? While Rachel is a worry at the moment due to her constant penchant for passing out I don’t think that either of them should have been seen as a damsel in distress. But given that the whole team falls so easily AGAIN to Mesmero? I’m going back to 2013 and X-Men vol 3 when X-Women were written as strong and not fainting or need rescuing by big strong men every five minutes… *sigh*. At least we had a fleeting image of the team we all know and love on top. Speaking of which, the art is once again on top form. The facial expressions convey more than the words try to. From Lydia’s horror to the resolute looks on the teams face as they go up against the Brotherhood again and Kitty with her hand in Mesmero’s head. Then the look Pyro gives as he realizes what he’s been doing and the mistakes he’s made.
Final Thought: Another fight the X-Men lose in short order with no logical reason but to move them to the next drama in prison. Let’s see how that one goes and if some character insight comes of it. Maybe some support and sympathy from other incarcerated mutants?
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