Welcome back to my coverage of the biggest X-men event of the moment: Battle of the Atom! If you’re just getting started you can find the reviews for the first two issues here, and the next two here. The event centres on a team of X-men arriving from an undetermined point in the future to force a team of X-men who previously travelled forward in time to go back to prevent a horrible future from occurring. Spoilers for the first four issues will follow.
Wolverine and the X-men #36
The last issue left off with future Jean Grey showing up on the scene and kicking the arses of everyone in sight before being threatened to a mental smack down by Emma Frost.
We open on young Scott waking up to find Emma Frost, young Jean and the Stepford Cuckoos standing across from the future Jean in the midst of a mental battle. Jason Aaron chooses to play this battle mostly for amusement, centring on how it would appear to anyone viewing from an outside perspective – literally them just standing around and occasionally showing signs of strain. Future Jean works through the four of them one by one, eventually coming down to a battle between the two Jeans.
After a few slower chapters it is nice to see a bit more action within these pages, from both the mental battle and a conflict that arises between the time travelling X-men and those who want them sent back in time. The second conflict is stopped by a great scene from Future Deadpool who threatens to shoot himself if they don’t all stop fighting, hoping that his healing abilities have lost their power and that it will actually, finally kill him. That a man known for his comedy could have reached that stage really hits home on how awful the future must be, and is an effective way to stop the teams from fighting.
This issue sees another change in artwork to Giuseppe Camuncoli, an artist I am not overly familiar with. His artwork has a realistic, yet still slightly cartoonish style that evokes Nick Bradshaw’s work on the title. When he gets to draw the conflict on the mental plan from the telepath’s perspective it is an impressive spectacle, being action packed yet easy to follow.
An additional plot point which is briefly introduced in the issue throws a real spanner in the works and turns the entire story on its head. Magik recruits young Hank McCoy for a trip to the future to see what is really going on, with young Iceman hopping along for the ride. When they get there they find another group of X-men in a fairly idyllic looking future. This is a great half-way point twist for the series which sets up an interesting new route for the event.
Overall I found this issue an improvement over the last few, believing that it provides real promise for Battle of the Atom going forward.
All New X-men #17
Rather than dragging out the mystery of what caused the future X-men to split into separate teams for the rest of the series, this issue opens on a scene a few years before the one Magik, Beast and Iceman just entered into. Future Jean and Future Beast are having a conversation with Dazzler, encouraging her that she is the best choice for the first mutant President of the United States. She wins the election but things go poorly at her inauguration.
We’re then properly introduced to this other team of future X-men which consists of Jubilee in a leadership role, Colossus, Quentin Quire as Phoenix, totally different to Iceman, some sort of Iron Man like character, and a few newbies. These scenes mostly consist of a few hints being dropped about the future with Jubilee constantly interrupting to remind everyone that they shouldn’t be talking about the future at all.
While it is a fun issue there unfortunately isn’t much plot to be found and while we do get a glimpse of the future it’s still unclear quite what the other team of future X-men had in mind when they travelled back to force the X-men travelling from the past to go back there. At this point we are also having an issue of too many X-men teams, I’m running out of ways to describe them to be honest. With the past X-men, Wolverine’s team, Cyclops’ team, the first future travellers and now these apparently real X-men from the future we now have five teams! It’s all just a bit too much to handle. This issue does the right thing by choosing to focus basically entirely on the new team but it will definitely make things more confusing down the line.
Stuart Immonen returns to All New X-men, bringing back his fairly flawless style. Quentin Quire as the Phoenix looks great, his pink hair standing out among his costume (and it is great how he still dyes his hair pink as an adult carrying the most powerful entity in the galaxy). The scenes of destruction after the inauguration looks truly apocalyptic and Hank McCoy’s rage is clear to see. I feel his work is best displayed in action scenes which this issue is lacking in, except for the Presidential attack which boils down to a few pages.
The issue closes on the newly introduced Future X-men travelling back to visit Cyclops’ team, hopefully to provide some explanation about what the hell is going on in the next issue. I’m having a strange relationship with this series. I find it frustratingly slow issue-to-issue but I’m loving it as a whole and keep coming back to get the next piece of the puzzle.