Deceit from the future, uncertainty from the past, and a future under fire from all directions. Sounds pretty awful, but for the X-Men? That’s a Tuesday. Your Major Spoilers review awaits!
A big 50th anniversary tale.
Some nice character work.
No real resolution.
All casualties are from the future.
X-MEN: BATTLE OF THE ATOM #2
Writer(s): Jason Aaron/Brian Michael Bendis
Artist(s): Esad Ribic w/Giuseppe Camuncoli/Chris Bachalo/Mark Irwin/Victor Olazaba/Matt Milla
Inker(s): Andrew Currie and Tom Palmer
Colorist(s): Ive Svorcina w/Andres Mossa & Guru eFX
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Editor: Nick Lowe
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $5.99
Previously in X-Men – Battle Of The Atom: After the original five X-Men were brought forward in time, things got very complicated for all the mutants. With their ranks still split down the middle (one side following Cyclops, the other Wolverine), the students of Charles Xavier fragmented into half a dozen splinter groups. The arrival of their future counterparts (including older versions of Jean Grey, Iceman and Beast, making for three of each of those heroes in the present) was complicated enough, but the future Brotherhood have come back as well, making for the old fighty-fighty. All our players have finally been gathered in one place, and they can finally sit down and discuss this rationally like adults…
…that is, as soon as the SHIELD helicarriers are through bombarding them with high-ordinance weaponry.
SHOUTING AND FIGHTING AND SHOUTING AND FIGHTING AND SHOUTING SOME MOOORE!
There have, for a long time, been a lot of X-Men floating around, and the current setup (with multiple schools and multiple teams at each location) is, admittedly, one of the more coherent since the mid-1990s. If you’re bothered by the dozens of mutants extant in the Marvel Universe, I’d have to say that this comic book is not for you. That said, as someone who only casually checks out X-Men adventures, this one is relatively clear as a reading experience. The battle sequences that open this issue are pretty wild and crazy, and remind me a bit of the old-school Chris Claremont days, with everyone hollering their character-building dialogue in the midst of a chaotic battle sequence. Things get evern more crazy/awesome when several SHIELD missiles fail to explode, instead transforming into giant robot form and attacking the assembled mutant horde.
“SHIELD has its own flamin’ Sentinels,” snarls Wolverine. “Heads are gonna roll for this.” Past, present and future X-Men collide with the robots in a perfect storm of violence, and mutants begin to fall…
SEEMS LIKE LITTLE HAS CHANGED…
With this many artists in play, some drift in the style of the linework is to be expected, but it’s unfortunate the way this issue plays out, with the pencils getting looser and looser as the issue goes on, giving the impression that the creative team is getting tired as the big fight goes on. There are casualties in the battle, but all of them number among the future team, a development that isn’t unexpected so much as it is saddening. As the battle comes to a close, the All-New Old X-Men go head-to-head with Xorn (a future incarnation of a familiar character), and gives us a nice callback to 1963 before ending in flames and more death. It’s a nice bit of closure for things, and I do like the way the battle ends. Unfortunately for the narrative, there are FOUR more epilogues after that bit, each one diluting the strength of the main sequence a little bit more. The future Brotherhood is loose in the present, the All-New X-Men walk away from the Jean Grey School, and a high-profile character switches sides, but there’s also a lot of talky-talky, and by the end of the issue, it seems like we’re right back at the same Cyclops/Wolverine impasse that the X-books have seen since ‘Schism.’
THE BOTTOM LINE: OKAY, BUT KIND OF DENSE AND FRENETIC…
After some pretty confusing maneuvering, it’s an okay ending, but it suffers from the same problem that many of Marvel’s big events have in recent years: No real ending. The setup of the conflict promised a lot, and while the combat sequences were impressive (and the revelation that SHIELD is prepared to attack the mutants with Sentinel technology was nicely rolled out), by the end of the book it feels like we’ve gotten this far just to be set on the path to the next big crossover madness. X-Men – Battle Of The Atom #2 has a lot of good notions swirling around, and gets halfway to awesome before tripping itself up in a rush to get to the next story, earning 2.5 out of 5 stars overall. It’ll be interesting to see whether the changes to the status quo (including some new characters out of their home times) make a big difference in coming months…