Trapped in the Negative Zone, can even their mighty mutant powers protect the X-Men from alien oblivion?  Your Major Spoilers review of X-Men Gold #20 awaits!


Writer: Marc Guggenheim
Penciler: Diego Bernard
Inker: JP Mayer
Colorist: Frank Martin
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Editor: Mark Paniccia
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously in X-Men Gold: “The X-Men are trapped in the Negative Zone!  When Kitty and Nightcrawler were captured by Kologoth and taken back to his world, Colossus, Logan, Ink and Armor mounted a rescue mission to save their teammates.  It didn’t go as planned.  Kologoth summoned the god Scythian to destroy his world as revenge for his treatment of a mutant.  Logan made quick work of Kologoth, while the others formulated a plan to take Scythian out before he razed the planet…  They were successful, but the strain of towing a god took out all power on the ship, crash-landing them on yet another alien world!”


Trapped on an alien world, separated in the crash of their ship, the X-Men are forced to pull themselves together and find a way home.  Here’s the problem: Too many X-men, too few pages and a lot of over-the-top moments.  Storm faces a monstrous creature, insisting that her powers don’t work; Old Man Logan and Armor argue in a manner I think is meant to be humorous; Ink (who is the most interesting and compelling character here, amazingly) and Nightcrawler have to figure out how to get the ship up and running; Colossus dies in the arms of his ex-girlfriend, Kitty Pryde.  Kitty then goes nuts, shrieking and pounding on his meaty chest (she later calls is CPR, but the art makes it seem like she’s just abusing a corpse) when Storm miraculously appears.  The team pulls together, and Nightcrawler reveals that the ship is powered by a warp-field that will get them home immediately, begging the question of why they bothered to fly the damn ship in the first place…


The visuals are pretty solid, to be honest: Everyone looks heroic and weather-beaten, and their actions sequences make it clear that the artist knows superheroes.  Storm’s martial arts are particularly well-done, and I like the depiction of Ink (a minor X-Man at best) in these pages.  Bernard’s Nightcrawler is a weak spot, but even that doesn’t hurt the overall effect of the art.  The story, sadly, leaves that art out in the metaphorical cold, though, moving too fast and trying to cram in emotional beats for every character in too-little space, while carving out the last two pages for Kitty’s surprising revelation, and Guggenheim just isn’t up to that task in the number of pages here.  The reveal that they can just teleport home if Storm uses her powers that actually do work after all, she just hadn’t tried hard enough when she was about to be eaten by the alien death-spider falls very flat for me, and the overall effect is an issue that is ultimately forgettable.


Even though I love the elevation of Ink, I enjoy Storm remembering that she doesn’t need powers to be bad-@$$ and the interplay between Nightcrawler and the new kid, this issue doesn’t have a lot going for it.  It’s a shame that it will probably go up in value when the last page spins out into the next big Event Comic, as X-Men Gold #20 doesn’t really hold up; better-than-average art combines with a clumsy story for a disappointing 2 out of 5 stars overall.  I will say that, even though I hate the concept, the matching X-uniforms look fetching under Bernard’s pen, though…


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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

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