It’s the X-Men versus the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, but not all is as it seems. Magma leads a new team of baddies in an attack on humanity that has whipped up anti-mutant hysteria, all while an unfamiliar threat waits in the wings.
Writer: Marc Guggenheim
Artist: Ardian Syaf
Publisher: Marvel Comics
After a controversial first issue, the X-Men Gold team is back in action, facing off with a piecemeal Brotherhood consisting of former Morlock leader Masque, Brotherhood legacy members Pyro and Avalanche, some unnamed green lizard man, and former New Mutant Magma. Also waiting in the wings is a redesigned Mesmero, who looks an awful lot like Braniac and absconds with Logan in the middle of the two groups’ first skirmish.
As the Gold team (sans Logan) starts to regroup, the Brotherhood commences another attack and kidnaps the Mayor of New York City, threatening to execute what I have to assume is Bill de Blasio in 24 hours unless… I don’t know, they actually don’t say in the book. They start to, but then cut to the new Graydon Creed/Friends of Humanity pastiche, Lydia Nance, calling for American mutants to be deported. Now while de Blasio’s office has declined to comment on this whole situation, the fact that the issue swiftly moves past the ultimatum suggests it doesn’t matter because this rinky-dink version of the Brotherhood is probably going to be swiftly dealt with.
That’s sort of the problem with this issue as a whole, it just feels like none of this matters. The stakes don’t seem high, the characters seem only mildly interested in what’s going on and the creative team seems to be going through the motions until something more interesting comes along. The half-baked plot is pretty transparent, as they’re telegraphing Nance’s involvement with this version of the Brotherhood, and haven’t built her credibility to a place where I can believe that her call for mutant deportation would be any more significant than someone like Alex Jones saying whatever insane nonsense pops into his amphetamine rattled brain.
Worse yet is the continued inconsistency and lack of internal logic displayed by both writer Marc Guggenheim and artist Ardian Syaf. Logan is quickly taken out of the fight by a blast of flames from Magma (which is a little hard to swallow, but sure, I’ll go with it) and teleported to safety by Kurt, only to then be kidnapped by the aforementioned Mesmero. So despite a flash of molten lava capable of taking down the Terminator-like Wolverine, when we see him help captive by the mental maniac later in the issue his “official team badass” duster is essentially untouched. Now Mesmero, super villain that he is, subdues Logan with an unbreakable adamantium chain…but he ties it to a regular wooden chair, something that he doesn’t see the lack of logic in until it’s too late. Naturally, Logan escapes and fights Pyro and Masque, once again emerging unscathed.
Earlier in the book Avalanche uses his powers to launch Colossus and Kitty into the air, but in the very next panel (on the same page no less) the X-Men are standing on calm ground looking no worse for wear. Anachronisms across multiple issues are one thing, and inconsistency within the entire run of a book is bad but understandable from time to time, but negating one panel in the one immediately below it on the same page? Come on.
To his credit, Guggenheim tries to game the system with the inconsistencies by calling attention to them. Yet reminding us that Pyro and Avalanche are supposed to be dead or hinting that something is off with Mesmero doesn’t make their roles in the story any less silly. The inclusion of Kid Gladiator is problematic for some continuity reasons as well. For one, I’m fairly certain he’s supposed to be in space, for another he expresses concern for the potential deportation of mutants despite not being one himself and it being wildly out of character for Kubark. I’m not much of a fan of what appears to be a new X-cutioner in the mid-issue vignette, either.
While he manages to avoid any of the controversial hidden messages that made last issue such a talking point, Ardian Syaf’s artwork was a lot of the same issues. The SASS I detailed last month is in full effect, as the characters’ musculature is out of control. Now, however, even character faces are beginning to look alike. Without scenic context, Kitty and Lydia Nance look exactly the same, and the trio of students reacting to the latter’s call for deportation would be indistinguishable if it weren’t for their separate color schemes and haircuts (if you can call Anole’s head scales a haircut). Then there are instances where the faces completely fall apart. Like what the hell happened to Pyro’s eyes in the tape they send to announce their kidnapping of the mayor? They’re practically running away from his nose. Wolverine’s face on page 19 is a mess as well, looking more like a modern Leonard Nimoy (RIP) than Old Man Logan.
It’s unfortunate, but I feel like this opening arc is going to be a total dud. The art is weak, the writing feels a little haphazard and though I can definitely see the influence of Claremont on the book’s direction, it’s not the good Claremont that’s coming through. Hopefully with a new penciller and new focus, the second arc will right this ship.