I am a sucker for an X-men event, my love of X-men being deeply represented on this site as it is (here, here, here, here…we could go on.) Battle of the Atom brings together the past year’s worth of X-stories, centring on the X-men being divided into two camps, split between Cyclops and Wolverine, with Cyclops being seen as a terrorist. Beast brought the original X-men forward from the past in the hope that seeing what has become of their mission to unite mutants and humans would encourage them to change things. A team of X-men from the future appear to warn the present team that if they don’t send back the time-travelling X-men it will lead to a terrible future.
X-men: Battle of the Atom #1
The first issue mostly centres on an exciting battle scene, with the past X-men first travelling to fight a new mutant on a rampage then facing off against an army of sentinels. It’s an interesting way to begin the event, promising much action in the future of the series. Present day Cyclops’ team of X-men arrives to assist in the battle and when a sentinel fires a mortal shot at past Cyclops the present day version disappears. The past version is healed immediately and the present day Cyclops reappears but it makes everyone suddenly aware of the dangers of having the time travelling X-men around.
It sure has taken them a while to come to this realisation, especially with essentially everyone in the universe telling them that is a terrible idea. It basically feels like they have delayed from this moment for a while with All New X-men having run out of steam about six months ago, so it is great that this time travelling storyline has finally come to a head. The introduction of the future X-men seems to come at the worse time, when they were just about to send back the past characters anyway.
The artwork throughout the issue is great, although it can be a little distracting how it switches between artists. Three artists draw the issue: John Cho, Stuart Immonen and Wade Von Grawbadger, but they are able to mostly maintain a similar style and all characters look true to form throughout. The action scenes appear to be mostly drawn by Immonen, them flowing incredibly well and being totally fluid, as I have come to expect from the artist.
All New X-men #16
It’s interesting that they chose to release the second issue of the event on the same day as its debut. I can see it causing confusion when people just buy this issue of All New X-men and find themselves smack down in the middle of a event. This issue picks up from the end of the previous issue, allowing us to get to know the future X-men that have arrived.
Not surprisingly past Jean Grey decides she is unhappy with the idea of being sent back, knowing the future that awaits her. This version of Jean has proven herself to he far more proactive than we have ever seen her, resilient in her goal to change the present. She is understandably unwilling to travel back to her time with only loss and death to look forward to, escaping and pulling Scott in with her.
The future team is an interesting mix of classic X-men characters and other popular mutants, including a future version of Molly Hayes from the Runaways (who really needs to be in the modern day comics). The presence of aged Kitty Pryde conjures up memories of the classic storyline Days of Future Past, which also centres on time travel. It’s also interesting to see a future evolution of Beast, as that guy apparently can’t look the same for more than five minutes anymore. I’m also intrigued by the notion that Iceman will evolve into some sort of abominable snowman-like creature. The designs of the future X-men are great, channeling post-apocalypse clothing and also allowing for some wacky designs. The reveal of who the masked X-man is is fantastic and a great cliffhanger to end the series on.
This issue is slightly less exciting than the opening, although there is a small battle between the two X-men teams, as there always appears to be when two teams call themselves the X-men. The last minute reveal while great isn’t really set up enough to carry the comic, though the mystery of what exactly has occurred in the future is still there. It is going to be interesting to see how this series evolves and whether it can it can maintain momentum across 10 issues.