SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for “X-Men Gold” #1, on sale now.
With the launch of ResurrXion, Marvel’s X-Men line has indeed gone back to the basics. At least, that’s the case with “X-Men Gold” #1, an issue literally titled “Back to the Basics” that features a classic lineup of X-Men playing baseball, superhero and, by the installment’s end, prepping for battle against a new iteration of one of their oldest foes.
In the new flagship series, Marc Guggenheim and Ardian Syaf have assembled a team of A-List X-Men. Led by Kitty Pryde, the Gold strike force consists of Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Prestige (the mutant formerly known as Rachel Grey) and Old Man Logan. The team includes a trio of X-Men (Storm, Nightcrawler and Colossus) from 1975’s “Giant-Size X-Men” relaunch, and an alternate reality version of fellow founding ’70s X-Man Wolverine. Kitty Pryde and Prestige also have deep ties to the X-Men; Kitty joined the team in the wake of the “Dark Phoenix Saga” in 1980. Rachel followed a few years later, joining the X-Men in 1985. It’s a good thing this team is so experienced, too, because they’re going to go up against one of the X-Men’s oldest foes.
The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants
The evil mutant team has been around, in various forms, since 1964’s “X-Men” #4. Pretty much every generation of X-Men has had a version of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (or the Brotherhood of Mutants or just simply the Brotherhood) to fight. Founded by Magneto, the original lineup consisted of the Master of Magnetism, Mastermind, Toad, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. That quintet clashed with the original five X-Men repeatedly during the team’s formative years. Magneto would lead a few more short-lived versions of the team, but he wouldn’t be involved with the most prominent incarnation of the team.
In 1981’s “X-Men” #141, the shape-shifting Mystique made a major move against the X-Men when she debuted her lineup of Evil Mutants. That roster included herself, her lover Destiny, classic X-villain Blob, and newcomers Pyro and Avalanche. That team, including its later Freedom Force iteration, lasted throughout much of the 1980s — far longer than pretty much any other Brotherhood lineup. There are plenty of other BoEM rosters, including ones led by Toad, Daken, Exodus and more. “X-Men Gold” introduces a new lineup for the pointedly named Brotherhood of Evil Mutants — although the villain team’s lineup also appears to be in line with the book’s “back to basics” approach.
We’ll start out by saying that we don’t yet know who any of these characters are. Their names have not been revealed, and solicitations for “X-Men Gold” #2 only says that “there are some surprising familiar faces in their ranks” and that the lineup includes “foes and former friends.” Looking at artist Ardian Syaf’s final page of “X-Men Gold” #1, it appears that the description is correct. The roster looks to include Pyro, Avalanche, Magma, Masque and a mystery demon character.
While none of these characters are named in the issue, four of the five mutants bear at least a strong resemblance to characters we already know.
Pyro: This flame-throwing mutant is pretty much synonymous with the team. Pyro debuted in “X-Men” #141 as a member of Mystique’s Brotherhood, and then stayed with the team as it transitioned into its role as the government-sanctioned Freedom Force. He even stuck it out and served on Toad’s Brotherhood in the early ’90s. If this character is Pyro, it’ll be a big deal for X-Men fans. Despite his status as a major villain for almost 20 years, Pyro is one of the few X-characters to actually stay dead. The character died way, way back in 2001’s “Cable” #87. He returned to life briefly in 2010’s “Necrosha” event, but he hasn’t been seen since.
There’s also another possibility: this could be ex-New Mutant Rusty Collins. A key thing about Pyro is that he’s not able to create flame; he can only control it. In this image, it looks like the flames are coming off of “Pyro’s” hands — a power that Rusty Collins possesses. If this is Rusty, that’s an even bigger deal — because he’s been dead since 1995. That’s not a far-fetched theory, either. Guggenheim has shown an affinity for the X-Men of the ’80s, what with Rachel Grey’s return to prominence, and the solicit text implies that there are “friends” — plural — on the Brotherhood team.
Avalanche: This ground-shaking mutant debuted alongside Pyro in “X-Men” #141 and also served on the team in the ’80s. For a while, Avalanche and Pyro were a package deal and best buds within the Brotherhood. He later joined Exodus’ short-lived Brotherhood, and then retired to a life of bartending. Avalanche’s retirement didn’t last for long, as the Red Skull captured the ex-Evil Mutant and brainwashed him into doing evil deeds once again. That mission ended with Avalanche’s death, and he hasn’t been seen since 2012’s “Uncanny Avengers” #1. If this is Avalanche, then it means a thought-dead character has returned after a five-year absence.
Similar to the Pyro-is-really-Rusty theory, let’s not count out the possibility that this Avalanche could be Rictor — a similarly earthquake-causing mutant that’s also been M.I.A. for a while. Rictor actually got some attention earlier this year when he appeared on the big screen in “Logan,” but he hasn’t been seen in the comics since 2013’s “X-Factor” #259. A Brotherhood lineup containing these two former New Mutants doesn’t seem like such a stretch considering who else might be on the team…
Magma: Unlike Pyro and Avalanche, Magma can’t hide behind a mask. Unless Guggenheim’s introducing another molten/fiery female mutant, this has to be ex-New Mutant Magma. Her inclusion in a Brotherhood roster is surprising, but it fits with the solicits saying there are “former friends” on the team. And if Magma’s in charge of this Brotherhood, it’s not far-fetched to think that other, similarly M.I.A. New Mutants like Rusty and Rictor could be involved too. It’s also possible that Magma’s gone for the big leagues and brought Pyro and Avalanche back from the dead for her Evil lineup. If this is Magma, and it really seems like it is, it’ll mark a major return for the character. Magma hasn’t been seen in three years, since the conclusion of “Fearless Defenders.”
Masque: There’s a precedence for hooded characters showing up in Brotherhood lineups, meaning that this hooded foe is most likely Masque. A mutant with the ability to mold and reshape faces and bodies with a touch, Masque debuted in 1983’s “Uncanny X-Men” #169 as a member of the underground mutant group the Morlocks. Masque constantly challenged Callisto for leadership of the group, and eventually came up to the surface as a member of Toad’s Brotherhood. Masque and fellow Morlock Thornn joined the Brotherhood as part of an alliance between the Morlocks and Brotherhood of Evil Mutants — although that alliance ended when Masque was seemingly killed and the BoEM was defeated by X-Force. Masque’s death didn’t last long, and the character has popped up once every few years since then. Masque was last seen in 2015’s “All-New X-Men” #41 where he was invited to live at the X-Mansion alongside other forgotten mutants. Nothing came of that plotline, and now it looks like Masque is back to his villainous ways.
Mystery Demon: There’s also a mysterious demon creature in the background of the team shot. While there’s a precedence for anthropomorphic elephants joining the Brotherhood, there really isn’t for demon-y members. This creature’s design has elements of classic X-foes like the alien Brood and demonic N’Garai. The unnamed villain even kinda looks like the former Acolyte Mellencamp, whose mutant form was similarly demonic and green. Odds are this is a totally new character — although it could be a character we already know, but in a whole new form. If Masque is on this team, then that’s always a possibility.
Days of Future Past Connection
It’s worth pointing out that this “back to the basics” approach subtly harkens back to the original “Days of Future Past” story, which took place in “X-Men” #141-142 in 1981. That two-parter saw the X-Men (which included Kitty Pryde, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Storm and Logan) fight the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. It was also debut of Mystique’s Brotherhood, which included the first appearances of Pyro and Avalanche. That ’80s storyline also marked the debut of Rachel Grey, a character now starring in “X-Men Gold” as Prestige. On top of all that, the Brotherhood seems to have similarly political goals this time around. In the ’80s storyline, the Brotherhood tried to assassinate anti-mutant politician Senator Robert Kelly. In “X-Men Gold” #1, the new Brotherhood attacks the United Nations following a flare-up of anti-mutant prejudice in the human population, stirred up by TV news.
Odds are we’ll learn the identities of the new Brotherhood in the next two chapters of “X-Men Gold’s” opening arc. We’ll soon learn just how many friends are mixed in with the X-Men’s foes in this new lineup. “X-Men Gold” #2 arrives in stores on April 19.