REVIEW: X-Men: Gold #16 – “The Negative Zone War”

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Writer: Marc Guggenheim
Penciller: Lan Medina
Inkers: Jay Leisten & Craig Yeung
Colorists: Frank Martin & Andrew Crossley
Letterer: Cory Petit
Price: $3.99

Release Date: 11/22/17

Kitty and her team of X-Men stopped an attach by the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants recently, only to discover that they were being controlled by Mesmero and anti-mutant activist Lydia Nance. They captured one of the members, an extraterrestrial lizard named Kologoth, but he escaped thanks to a serial killer and has since phoned home.

Plot: X-Men: Gold #16 opens with the political war between mutants and their opponents raging on while Kitty and Peter find their way back to romance. But a peaceful mutant rights rally is soon interrupted by the arrival of an alien spacecraft, which drags the newly reunited couple out of bed too. An Alpha flight team unwisely engages in battle with it and flames out, so the X-Men hurry to help.

Turns out they’re searching for Kologoth, who is reunited with his beloved Augor on the ship. But as they blast off back to their home world, they wind up taking Kitty and Kurt with them…

Story: As much as I like the political angle that runs in the background of much of the X-Men: Gold run, I wish it could be approached with a little more nuance at times. Given that the main story in this arc is aliens, it’s not necessarily the time, but there is something that the mutants-as-minorities metaphor still seems to overlook. When people are racially profiled based on their race, they are often feared for imaginary reasons that do not correlate to their actions at all – but mutants do actually have powers that could be dangerous. While Lydia Nance is in fact evil and I enjoy watching Kitty call her out as much as Peter does, I think the run could benefit from presented the more “average” points of view from people who are not actively racist (for lack of a better term) but who could unlearn some of their fears in a productive way.

But as I said, that’s not what X-Men: Gold #16 is primarily about. Rather, it’s an introduction to an alien adventure, and on that front it establishes the situation pretty well. When some of your team members are accidentally trapped on a spaceship, of course you’re gonna follow it to get them back. And connecting it back to the X-Men’s previous actions was also something on an interesting twist, as the aliens were only on Earth to pick up a prisoner they let escape. But there’s still not a lot we learned about the future of the confrontation here, so I hope the following issues give us a better look once Logan and the rest follow the ship to their world.

I have very much enjoyed the progression of Kitty and Peter’s relationship, so it was nice to see them get their moment before being forced apart once more. However, it feels like some members of the team are getting short shrift because the focus often goes back to the same characters. Logan heading up the rescue should be a nice change of pace, but I hope we see Ororo as his second-in-command for the operation, because she’s been in the background for far too many issues.

Art: Lan Medina’s pencils were very nice to look at, giving each character a range of expression and setting up some well-paced action sequences. The only problem in terms of artwork in X-Men: Gold #16 is the same problem that’s faced them throughout, which is the constant rotation of artists that makes it hard to get a consistent grip on the characters or settle on a definitive look. Even in this very issue, there were four people divided inks and colors – and while that didn’t detract too heavily from the look of the book, it does lend itself to a feeling of disunity.

That being said, the colors do look very good throughout, especially in the outdoor scenes. It seems like Martin & Crossley have a great sense of lightning and mood, which combine to make the scenery look both realistic and foreboding.

Verdict: X-Men: Gold #16 sets up an interesting arc, even if it feels like not enough time was spent on the villains and ensuing conflict before the issue ended.

Star Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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