Battle of the Atom is the current big X-men event which began two weeks ago, I reviewed the first two issues here. Atom centres on a team of X-men from the future travelling back in time to warn our X-men that if a team of X-men from the past aren’t sent back then there will be dire consequences. If it sounds complicated that’s because it kind of is but the lives of the X-men have never exactly been simple now have they? Spoilers for the first two issues will most definitely follow.
This issue opens where All New X-men #16 left off, the past versions of Jean and Cyclops have gone on the run so that they won’t be sent back in time, opening with the present and future X-men teaming up to track them down.
This is a slower comic than the first two chapters, featuring conversations more than action scenes. Not surprisingly not of all the present X-men agree with the decision to forcibly send the younger X-men back, as for a team they have an alarming ability to disagree on everything. Kitty Pryde has been the leader of the past X-men thus far and understandably feels there is more they can do together. She teams up with Rachel Summers, an experienced time-traveller, to stop her other teammates. The action slightly picks up towards the end of the issue when the X-men come to blows, but the fight is cut short by the arrival of Kitty and Rachel.
The chat between Kitty and Rachel over Chinese food is one of the highlights of the issue, as Wood once again proves how great he is at writing female characters. The shift from Brian Michael Bendis (the writer of the first two chapters) to Brian Wood is for the most part smooth but there are times when the dialogue is noticeably different, Wood’s feeling more natural with easy humour. The inclusion of Jubilee in the story doesn’t make much sense however, serving no real purpose other than to remind us she exists as she hasn’t been seen in the event so far.
This issue also sees a change in the art team to David López, the current artist for X-men. His characters look realistic and true to form, though there are some strange facial expressions on display. For instance in the reveal of the X-men’s new ship, Rogue’s face just looks blank. Even worse is Jubilee’s face when she’s being stressed out about her child, which looks positively inhuman.
While it does open up some interesting conflict within the X-men camp, the issue is a bit too slow for it’s own good and doesn’t do much to move the story along. The comic ends with Jean and Cyclops in an interesting place but with the introduction of present Cyclops’ team into the fold, will there be too many teams for any reader to follow? I know I’m finding it hard enough to describe each one as it is.
Uncanny X-men #12
The first few pages of the comic introduce Maria Hill, head of SHIELD, to the event, a character who been a big part of Uncanny X-men since its relaunch. She’s a bit pissed off that once again the X-men are causing her trouble, with Dr McCoy playing with the time-space continuum yet again. The exchange ends on a funny note as Hill reveals she had a dream the X-men blew up the moon, a very vivid dream apparently. Seemingly they will come into play down the line, ending a further threat for our favourite mutants.
So Jean and Scott have arrived at Utopia, a former base of the X-men, to have a rendezvous with present day Cyclops and his team of X-men which are perceived as terrorists. After providing a little telepathic recap and reminding everyone of the Emma Frost/Jean Grey rivalry, Magik teleports away after revealing she has met the future X-men before. On the side of the other X-men cracks are still forming, with Kitty and Storm arguing over the right of the time-travellers to choose.
Once again this another issue built around the team arguing amongst themselves, the story only inching forward slightly and at this point the argument is starting to feel pretty repetitive with no one changing their stance or raising any new points. Kitty wants to let them choose as she feels it’s the moral thing to do, whereas the more rational X-men feel for the space time continuum. Rachel doesn’t really even say much to back her up, leaving Kitty to fight the entire argument herself.
Chris Bachalo takes over on art duties for the issue, as a favourite X-men artist of mine I am obviously thrilled to see him return. There is very little to fault about his style, handling the characters effectively as well as giving a great look to powers. When Magik teleports away in a swirl of hell fire, it is a dynamic looking effect that carries over to the next panel when she is gone. Even quiet moments look fantastic, such as a moment of silent contemplation between present Cyclops’ team, as they all ponder their opinions on the time-travellers, staring out across the ruined landscape that once the X-men’s home.
The issue ends on an exciting event but it comes a bit too late, although I am stoked for the next chapter. Future Jean Grey arrives, knocking out her past self in a flash before being confronted by Emma Frost and the Stepford Cuckoos, promising a big telepathic throwdown next week. That is the one advantage of this series, while it is a little slow it is released on a weekly basis, so you don’t have long to wait for the next one. As Emma says “Black Queen versus White Queen. The message boards should love this.”