We jump back a few years, and Kitty Pryde is going off to camp for the summer. She is worried that she won't fit well with her old friends. Storm sends Kitty off, and she boards the bus to the camp. Her fears are initially put to rest, as her old friends embrace her immediately. However, after using her powers to retrieve items stolen by junior counselors, rumors of a mutant at the camp disturb both the campers and Shadowcat's peace of mind.
X-Men: Gold Annual #2 does what a good X-Men story should. It tackles the struggles of marginalized people and does so in a way that shows the small yet insidious ways bigotry and prejudice can manifest.
In X-Men: Gold Annual #2, this takes the shape of Kitty being forced to recognize that her friends and peers aren't as accepting as she thought, abject cruelty for people whom even show kindness to a marginalized group, and even how self-loathing and can take root.
It's smart and can cut deep in parts, but Seanan McGuire also knows when subtlety is the best tactic. There are still lighter moments with Kitty and her friends, and Shadowcat herself has a good sense of humor.
Marco Failla's artwork is of a light and energetic style. Emotions are often big and expressive, and detailing isn't so heavy as to weigh down the visual style. There are some panels, consequently, that look a little undercooked, and Storm's eyes look a bit odd in the opening scene. Overall, the work fits though, and it is a good-looking book. Rachelle Rosenberg brings a similarly light and energetic color palette to the table, suiting the book well too.
X-Men: Gold Annual #2 is a low-action comic choosing to show a formative event in Kitty Pryde's youth where she faced some of the cruelty and judgement a mutant can face. Not all hatred takes the shape of physical violence and attempts on a person's life or safety; sometimes it's subtler but no less evil. This one earns a recommendation. Give it a read.