REVIEW: X-Men Gold #5 – “Genetic Mutations”

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Writer: Marc Guggenheim
Penciler: R.B. Silva
Inker: Adriano Di Benedetto
Colorist: Frank Martin

Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Price: $3.99

Release Date: 6/7/17

After accidentally joining up with Boliver Trask’s granddaughter Olivia and merging stolen nanotechnology with a Sentinel A.I. in the process, Gambit is in hot water. Will his old X-Men team get to him in time? Of course they will, since he’s narrating – but the more interesting story is what happens next.

Plot: As soon as X-Men Gold #5 opens, Storm swoops in to rescue a much-obliged Gambit. The rest of the team finds Olivia Trask among the wreckage in the meantime and Kurt ports her to safety for further questioning. 

Old Man Logan is busy rescuing survivors – very heroically, I might add – when the other X-Men find themselves faced with the new Sentinel. As its programming demands that it wipe out all genetic mutations, it’s time for the X-Men Gold team to jump into action.

Story: Gambit takes a bit of a backseat in most of X-Men Gold #5, and that’s for the best because it gives Kitty Pryde another chance to exercise her leadership skills. And, some colossal puns aside, she pulls it off flawlessly. Guggenheim has done a good job so far of giving her and the rest of the team a learning curve without resulting in too many big losses, and this issue is no different. For example, Kitty phasing through the Sentinel results in psychic backlash for Rachel – which is how they realize the Sentinel is itself a mutation. Nothing really feels like filler, because each event or piece of information leads to the next chapter in the story. 

Unfortunately that particular incident furthers the overarching plot of persecution against mutants, as reporter Lydia Nance continues her crusade to have the X-Men labeled terrorists. To Guggenheim’s credit, there really are facts in the case that could be interpreted Lydia’s way. After all, Gambit did have an unwitting hand in the creation of the Sentinel that wrought so much destruction – though the fights this week were relatively short and didn’t offer much of a look at said destruction. But the twist at the end of the issue shows they’re gonna have much more immediate problems on their hands than the ramifications of Lydia’s campaign of discrimination.

At the same time, the Sentinel’s update protocol brings up the intriguing question of what makes a mutant. How can we classify each other based on something as random as genetic mutations when it’s impossible to know what they will result in, and how does one mutation make any one person less (or more) human than another? I’m very much looking forward to the next installment grappling with that contradiction amidst all the butt-kicking Kitty and co. are sure to do.

Art: While changing from one art team to another so early in a series can be jarring, I’ve had an issue to adjust to the differences. I must say I like R.B. Silva and Adriano Di Benedetto’s designs for the characters, and the group shots that set them off starkly against detailed background are particularly compelling. Not only that, but the colors Frank Martin uses always feel appropriate, bringing a warmth to every panel regardless of how messy the events it depicts happen to be.

The only quibble I have with the art is that there is a lot of stasis throughout the book. While there are some excellently depicted moments of Storm picking up Gambit or Logan rescuing innocent bystanders, there are other moments where the team appear to be simply standing there when they could otherwise be engaged in the action. But overall the focus on individual characters’ facial expressions make up for the dearth of kinetic sequences.

Verdict: The plotting of X-Men Gold remains well-crafted and engaging, which each member of the team getting moments to stand out even if they don’t get much focus. While the art needs to push a little farther to keep pace with the storytelling, it goes a long way towards character development and world-building. All in all, it makes for a generally great X-Men series.

Star Rating: 4/5

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