There’s a new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in town, and the X-Men know at least one of their members in X-Men Gold #2.
X-Men Gold #2
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: April 26, 2017
BACK TO BASICS!
The title “Back to the Basics” apparently is going to refer to the fact that the X-Men are going back to their oldest foes, the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Granted none of the original Brotherhood are present here, but at least there is a new incarnation of Pyro running around to keep a certain sense of continuity. More importantly this group has Magma, a former New Mutant and X-Men ally, among its ranks. The implication at the moment is that she has been brain washed by Mesmero into joining, but that seems a little too obvious to be the actual case. Some of the X-Men agree that it is to clear cut of an answer, too, but we’ll have to wait to see how it pans out.
While the Brotherhood are certainly the headliners of the issue the other part of the basics that we’re going back to is the old nugget of racism. With the mutants no longer under the imminent threat of death the extremists are out in force once more. The new face of the anti-mutant movement is Lydia Nance, but so far there is nothing new to the rhetoric. We don’t know much about Lydia yet, but I am not honestly expecting much. There’s nothing wrong with the concept, and it does help keep the X-Men relevant in these turbulent days, but it probably could use a fresh spin of some sort.
There is another new (yet old) face in town this issue, and that is the X-Cutioner. He was a 90s era “extreme” concept who was basically the Punisher, only he kills mutants for no reason other than they’re mutants. We don’t know yet if this is the same version of the character or a new one, but if you’re going to go back to pure mutant racism then X-Cutioner is one of the more established ways to give it legitimacy. I wish it wasn’t too late to change his codename, though.
Ardian Syaf is joined by Jay Leisten and Frank Martin on art again this month, but that won’t be for much longer. For reasons I will not go into here Mr. Syaf will be off the title starting with issue three, and we probably won’t be seeing his work on a mainstream book in a long time (you can google it if you want, it’s a good cautionary tale for future comic artists). That is unfortunate since there is a lot of potential here.
Ignoring the actual reasons for his departure it is a shame we won’t get to see his artwork mature. He has a solid foundation to work from, even if he still needs to work on his panel consistency. For instance, in the scene where we are introduced to X-Cutioner his victim clearly turns towards X-Cutioner, but the next panel shows him getting attacked from directly behind. I listed other examples in X-Men Gold #1 so I won’t continue to beat a dead horse, but suffice to say once he clears up issues like that he could have been a top-tier artist. Now we won’t know, and he only has himself to blame for it.
Unlike X-Men Blue this title seems to have a traditional story arc in mind. Each of the three core threads running through this book appear to be setup in a way that will make them easy to collect in tradepaperbacks. I don’t expect that these arcs will be tied up in a neat little bow by the end of the first trade, but there will probably be an ending to make the trade feel self-contained.
Lydia is likely going to stick around, and the Brotherhood is being positioned as a long-term threat, but individual battles can be won without discrediting them as villains. The subplot about whether or not the new Brotherhood is under Mesmero’s control is one such battle, and I am guessing it will be drawn out a bit. It is to writer Marc Guggenheim’s credit that all three core threads are engaging so far. Put the real-life drama surrounding the comic and its artist aside and enjoy it for what it is, which is an entertaining throwback to 90s era storytelling that still maintains a modern written-for-the-trade sensibility.