X-Men: Gold #23

Issue Date: 
May 2018
Story Title: 
Cruel and Unusual – part 1

Marc Guggenheim (writer), Thony Silas (artist), Arif Prianto (colorist), VC’s Cory Petit (letterer), David Nakayama (cover artist), Jay Bowen & Anthony Gambino (graphic designers), Christina Harrington & Chris Robinson (assistant editors), Mark Paniccia & Darren Shan (editors), C.B. Cebulski (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)
X-Men created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Brief Description: 

Kitty’s team has been sent to prison, while the authorities try to find out whether or not they are guilty. Kitty finds her cellmate is the X-Men’s frenemy Callisto. After some verbal sparring, Callisto warns her that all the other prisoners are out to make their reputation by attacking the X-Men. Later, her warning comes true, as the “big woman on campus” Crazy Masie attacks the three female X-Men with her cronies. In the meantime, Iceman and Rogue gather a substitute team and are surprised when the new Pyro asks to join them, as he wants to make up for his crimes. And in the Negative Zone, the furious god Scythian breaks free from his prison.

Full Summary: 

Between Jupiter and Saturn:
Something rends the fabric between our universe and the Negative Zone. It is Scythian, an old god of the planet Dartayus who is full of rage.

Meanwhile, in the Robert Kelly Correctional Facility aka the Box, a Homo superior prison, Kitty Pryde, dressed in orange prison garb and outfitted with a disinhibitor collar, is welcomed to the Box by two guards as she is led to her cell. Hope she survives the experience, one of them jokes. They warn her to not even think of escaping. The prison is designed to hold mutants. Did a hell of a job holding Mesmero and his friends! she snarks.

They open the cell door. Kitty sees who is inside and asks if she can get another cell. More specifically, a different cellmate. Pryde, the sometimes Morlock leader Callisto greets her coldly. Kitty turns to the guards. Seriously, that woman tried to kill her at least a million times. Have fun with that, the guard replies unimpressed and closes the cell door.

Calisto pretends to be insulted. She only tried to kill Kitty once – two times tops – and that was ages ago. Kitty snaps back that she’s got a long memory – particularly when it comes to the leaders of outlaw mutant gangs. Callisto schools her; the Morlocks are a community, not a gang. Try to have a little empathy! Her first! Kitty shoots back.

Cal warns her that of all the women here she is the last of Kitty’s problems. There are a lot of angry mutants here. And they all want a piece of her and her friends…

Storm and Prestige are in the female general population and notice they have a lot of eyes on them. Rachel groans suddenly and, when Storm presses, she admits that every time she throws down with Mesmero there are… side effects. She doesn’t mention the flashbacks she has to her Hound days. When Ororo asks about the side effects, Rachel sidesteps the issue and suggests they go look for Kitty.

The Xavier Institute:
Iceman figures Kitty got her way: He didn’t move to Los Angeles and he now has a team to lead – hers. He rings the bell and is welcomed by Rogue. Both of them joke about never really getting out of the X-Men.

Rogue explains it could be a while until their lawyer Jen Walters gets the main team out. Hence the need for a replacement team. A whole school of mutants and they have to call in a has-been, Bobby jokes. Rogue tells him to speak for himself. She was busy leading the Avengers Unity Squad. Bobby clarifies he was speaking for himself. So who have they got to fill out the B-squad, he asks as they enter the office. Before him stand Armor, Ink, Magma and Magik. Who is he calling B-squad? Ink asks smirking. He can work with this, Bobby decides and orders them to meet him in the Danger Room in 10 minutes.

The Box:
In the male general population, Colossus and Nightcrawler have been attacked by other prisoners. However, even without powers, they hold their own and are finally the last men standing. Colossus points out that they have been challenged four times today. What about tomorrow? How are they – or Kitty, Rachel and Ororo - supposed to fend off an entire prison?

The Danger Room:
Iceman and Rogue aren’t overly impressed with their new team, as they are fighting a simulated Magneto, who has already taken out Magma and Ink and, Iceman fears, is about to do the same to Amor and Magik in a moment. He proves to be right and Magneto tosses him after them. Bobby curses that this guy has been beating him up since he was twelve! He lands on the ground. Rogue closes in on Magneto. Iceman warns her not to get too close and she reminds him this is the only way she can get her power to work.

Iceman orders the program to freeze. They got some kinks to work out, Ink admits. Iceman calls that an understatement. Good thing they are not responsible for keeping New York City safe or anything. Ink mutters there’s the Avengers and the Champions…

Anole interrupts to inform them there is someone asking for the X-Men. But they should be careful. He looks like trouble.

Rogue answers the door to see Simon Lasker standing there in a hoodie. She asks who he is.

Soon, Simon is in the office with Bobby and Rogue. Bobby summarizes that he is the one running around in the Pyro costume. Simon explains Mesmero came to him posing as Professor Xavier. By the time he learned the truth, it was too late. Even now, he isn’t sure Mesmero wasn’t messing with his brain the whole time. Convenient, Bobby figures and states, right now his friends are rotting in the same prison Pyro should be in. Simon admits he screwed up but he wants to help make it right. Bobby refuses and Rogue agrees at the same time. Rogue points out that trying to make amends is kind of an X-Men tradition. Bobby lamely points out that she is different. Actually, she deadpans, she was taking about Logan. Bobby offers his hand and agrees to Simon joining them on a provisional basis. Simon shakes his hand.

Meanwhile, a man named Ivan Guerrero aka the Shredded Man somewhere in the Manhattan tunnels bends the subway rails to his will.

The Box:
The exercise yard for the female population:
Kitty, Ororo and Rachel are taking a walk and Kitty tells them about sharing a cell with Calisto. She feels like she’s been recast in The Odd Couple. Storm warns her about Callisto’s agendas. They’ll have to watch her carefully. Rachel points out Callisto is sitting in the bleachers nearby. Kitty asks why she is grinning and Cal tells her things are going to get very interesting.

She points to several women walking towards them. The large one in front is the alpha here. Not Callisto? Storm asks. Cal explains that woman put her in the infirmary for a month. And she’s dying to take a piece or two out of some actual X-Men. Damn right! the woman called Crazy Maisie agrees. Her idea? Kitty asks Cal. Callisto demurs but she’s going to enjoy the show…

Characters Involved: 

Armor, Colossus, Iceman, Ink, Magma, Magik, Magma, Prestige, Pyro II, Rogue, Storm (all X-Men)

Animax, Bliss, Crazy Maisie, Electric Eve


Box guards

Story Notes: 

Mesmero, Avalanche and Pyro escaped in issue #21.

Callisto almost had Kitty killed in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #169. Since then, though, they have been allies, so Kitty’s hostility here seems unwarranted.

The idea of Iceman leading a team came up at the end of Iceman (3rd series).

Rogue has spent most of her time with the Avengers Unity Team, in the various Uncanny Avengers series.

Since he was 12? Actually, Iceman was stated to be 16 in X-Men (1st series) #1…

Rogue making amends refers to her past as a member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.

“Odd Couple” refers to the 1965 Niel Simon play called “the Odd Couple,” which chronicled two men with wildly clashing personalities living together. The Broadway play was wildly successful, spawning a 1968 film adaptation, mutiple TV versions, a “female version” stage and even an animal-based cartoon version called “The Oddball Couple.”

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