True confessions from another X-Bitch: it was nearly impossible for this not to be be my comic of the week. Look, I always try and be objective with all things in life in an effort to not be too much of an idiot but the heart wants what it wants. Here’s a few things that make my blood pump red; a foul mouthed Filipino woman, a pit bull with bladder issues, Purple Jesus, #carmelosmirk, a corgi with a bad attitude that rapes my wife like she’s auditioning for Orange is the New Black and classic tales of the X-Men. I love Brian Wood, I love Jason Aaron and I used to love Brian Michael Bendis but miss me with that Battle of the Atom nonsense. X-Men: Gold is the perfect tribute to the classic comics 50th anniversary for one of the most important titles in the medium with it’s most influential creators.
X-Men: Gold #1 is a murderers row of classic X-Men talents including Chris Claremont, Stan Lee Weezy and Walt Simonson, Roy Thomas and Len Wein filling in the blanks on some of the X-Men’s most influential stories. X-Men: Gold is a successful throwback to when Marvel Comics was the young upstart publisher taking on the establishment and X-Men was the little title that could fighting against cancellation to become the premier team superhero comic that all the other team superhero comics followed. Yes Frank Miller, Alan Moore and Grant Morrison changed the game in the 1980’s but Chris Claremont and his collaborators paved the road for them with his work on Uncanny X-Men.
X-Men: Gold is a celebration of that magic. Claremont’s mini space epic about a Sentinel attack and the fall out from Kitty Pryde’s POV is a wonderfully written throwback to the multi-layered sci-fi soap opera of his defining run on the title. Stan Lee and the Simonson’s give a fun tribute to the swashbuckling original line up, Roy Thomas does a cute little one off of Banshee and Sunfire taking a rock and roll pilgrimage while Wein give’s an ultra violent stream of conscious narrative about Wolverine’s first meeting with his teammates showing how he stays the best he is at what he does. And yes these writers still have some of the same warts as they did thirty plus years ago. Claremont still writes thought bubbles that are far too exploratory for someone to be thinking while they’re beating the shit out of Sentinels and Louis Simonson’s transition to Jean Grey’s developing feelings for Scott Summers are as awkward today as they were over 25 years ago when she was writing X-Factor but those tics are part of the charm. Then there’s Fabien Nicieza sad, heartfelt and effecting examination of Xavier and Magneto’s complicated relationship and the fractured dream they shared for mutant empowerment that will hit any long time X-Men like a swift punch to the gut.
Nostalgia is a funny thing. The majority of these X-Men stories were published before I was born, knew how to read or even knew who the X-Men were much less able to understand their parallels with our world. But reading classic X-Men still takes me back what I think it’s time period was from all the other pop culture I’ve absorbed from that era. X-Men: Gold #1 brings back those same warm feelings of nostalgia. It hit’s notes that modern comics aren’t capable of. Being a comic fan means constantly chasing the dragon of that first hit. Often time it will give you a faint feeling of those early memories and every once in a while your head explodes because you couldn’t believe what you just read but what’s most rare is capturing that early experience of comics past and turning back the clock like this book does. In an era when publishers are constantly trying to reboot the origins of their superhero’s X-Men: Gold is a testament to what made those early stories cannon. For as long as I live there will always be new X-Men events, retcons, secret origins and #1 issues but in the end none of that will matter. What counts is the great stories whether they come from Claremont, Thomas, Lee, Casey, Morrison, Wheedon or Remender. X-Men Gold is a fitting tribute to the foundation that these stories are built on and a beautiful reminder of why we love them. That’s a comic that will stick with me
Honorable Mentions: The Manhattan Projects and Thor God of Thunder which would have been my choice for any other week, Unity and The Wraith: Welcome to Christmas Land which were excellent fist issues for series I look forward to continuing with in the future and Shaolin Cowboy where Geoff Darrow had the balls and skill set to do a comic that was 33 straight splash pages of zombies getting there ass kicked by Kung Fu and Chainsaws.