This week the X-Men’s Gold team returns, and Batman and Bane enter the final round of “I Am Bane” in Batman #20!
X-Men Gold #1 (Marvel Comics)
At long last, the X-Men have returned to their rightful place as a premiere Marvel team. Our first look at the new “ResurrXion” direction of the X-Men was glimpsed in the X-Men Prime special last week, but now we’ve got the official start of X-Men Gold, the team that features long time favorites like Colossus, Nightcrawler, Storm, Kitty Pryde, and Old Man Logan. Gold is being set up as the flagship book for the X-Men going forward, and writer Marc Guggenheim and artist Ardian Syaf definitely have a clear vision for the mutants going forward, one that’s more in the super hero mode than recent takes on the characters.
Led by Kitty Pryde, the new X-Men are more of a superhero team than ever before. They’re saving people from collapsing buildings, battling major threats like Terrax, and even operating out of Central Park. While this new motivation and drive hasn’t been welcomed by the public just yet, the team is making strides to change their public image, and Kitty’s Professor Xavier-esque speeches are starting to slowly help. That is, until they come across the new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, who not only present a threat against the world, but the perception of Mutants as well.
This new take on the X-Men works exceptionally well, mainly because of Marc Guggenheim’s script. Guggenheim’s characterizations of all of the team members are exactly on target, and he gives every character their own chance to shine. This new “superhero approach” to the team is something that has been sorely missed, and it seems like Guggenheim was the right writer for the job to usher in this new era of the X-Men.
Ardian Syaf’s art is also on target, for the most part. The big, epic set pieces that make up a large majority of this issue look fantastic under his pencils, but some of his characters look a little off at times. Old Man Logan, for example, looks more like a modern day Wolverine with grey hair than the rugged, beaten down character we’ve seen before, and at times Kitty Pryde and Rachel Summers (now going by Prestige) look like the same person but with different hairstyles. Despite this, there are more positives than negatives when it comes to Syaf’s work here, and I’m sure he’ll improve as the book continues.
X-Men Gold is exactly what longtime X-Men fans are looking for, and will definitely win back those who were scorned by Marvel’s recent treatment of the team. While it remains to be seen where this run will stack up when compared to other X-Men runs, as it stands right now, X-Men Gold is off to a fantastic start. After being survivors, outcasts, and even in the literal realm of Limbo, it’s nice to have the X-Men back in a way that feels like the good old days.
Batman #20 (DC Comics)
“I Am Bane” has been a pretty thrilling ride so far. Tom King and David Finch have brought Bane back to his punishing and violent roots, and in doing so have crafted arguably the best storyline of the Rebirth era of Batman. But it all comes to an end with this issue, as Bane finally makes his way to the Arkham Asylum cell where Batman is holding Psycho Pirate.
Simply put, this issue is BRUTAL. Tom King and David Finch have been building up to this showdown ever since the end of the “I Am Suicide” arc, and holy hell do they deliver. This issue is one long throw down between Batman and Bane, and both King and Finch are in top form. From the opening pages to the thrilling end point, this fight never lets up.
Tom King’s script does an excellent job of getting into the mindsets of both Bane and Batman, but it’s his surprising reveal for the narration that really sells the issue. King’s run on Batman has had a few weird moments (namely Batman and Catwoman calling each other “Bat” and “Cat’), but when King is on, he’s on, and he’s definitely on here. Batman has tons of awesome lines, Bane is incredibly intimidating, and the entire issue works as an awesome conclusion for what King has been building on since the first issue.
David Finch is an artist that has had some ups and downs in recent years, but this issue serves as arguably his best in the past few years. If Bane was intimidating from King’s script, he’s horrifying when drawn by Finch. Hulking over Batman, throwing him around like a rag doll, Finch is able to depict the rage that is consuming and fueling Bane, making this one of the best moments in the villain’s long history with Batman. Under Finch’s pencils, you feel every hit, punch, kick, and more.
Batman #20 is not only of the best issues of the DC Rebirth era of the Dark Knight, it also serves as one of the best issues of the year. Hell, this fight could go down as one of the best fights Batman and Bane have ever had. Both Tom King and David Finch are in top form here, delivering a battle that is every bit as epic and huge as the two characters themselves. This is an absolute must buy.