Hello interweb, Nate here. So despite my love for the X-Men, I have to admit that I’ve fallen behind on the team. Now All-New, All-Different Marvel is starting up again with new X-Men titles but I’ve heard good things and bad things about Brian Michael Bendis’s Uncanny X-Men and All-New X-Men titles from “Marvel Now!” so I thought I’d go back and read those two titles before jumping on the current ones. So while binge-reading (is that a thing?) these two X-Men comics, I finally got around to reading the 2013 mega crossover event: X-Men: Battle of the Atom. This 10-issue story crossed over every X-Men title that was going on at the time so if you love the X-Men as much as I do than it is definitly a must read. But I’ve stalled long enough, so let’s get to the review! Also, spoiler warning.
Title: X-Men: Battle of the Atom
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer(s): Brian Michael Bendis (#1-2, 4, 6, 8), Jason Aaron (#5, 9, 10), and Brian Wood (#3, 7)
Artist(s): Frank Cho (#1), Stuart Immonen (#2, 6), Chris Bachalo (#4, 8), David Lopez (#3, 7), and Giuseppe Camuncoli (#5, 9-10)
List of Issues:
- Issue 1: X-Men:Battle of the Atom #1
- Issue 2: All-New X-Men #16
- Issue 3: X-Men (Vol. 4) #5
- Issue 4: Uncanny X-Men (Vol. 3) #12
- Issue 5: Wolverine and the X-Men #36
- Issue 6: All-New X-Men #17
- Issue 7: X-Men (Vol. 4) #6
- Issue 8: Uncanny X-Men (Vol. 3) #13
- Issue 9: Wolverine and the X-Men #37
- Issue 10: X-Men: Battle of the Atom #2
X-Men: Battle of the Atom, is basically a giant time-traveling drama featuring the X-Men of the past, present, and future as well as the future Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. To understand the story you’ll need to understand where the X-Men has been since 2012 during Avengers Vs X-Men (another fun read that I should review eventually). During AVX, Cyclops (plus a few other guys) got possessed by the Phoenix Force (if you don’t know than don’t ask) and kills Professor Xavier in his Phoenix-induced madness. After AVX, Cyclops’s powers basically broke so they no longer work correctly. On top of that, he’s changes his philosophy on mutants and joins Magneto to create a new team of X-Men that takes the more action-based route. Because of his recent actions, he is labeled as a mutant terrorist by the government. So to snap him out of this, Beast from Wolverine’s X-Men goes back in time and bring the original five members (Cyclops, Jean Grey, Iceman, Angel, and Beast) to the present to snap Cyclops out of it. It didn’t work and the time-displaced X-Men decided to stay in the present after seeing their future.
This brings us the our where our story starts. Last chance to avoid spoilers in 3… 2… 1… Now the future Brotherhood of Evil Mutants comes back to the present and attempts to trick the past and present X-Men before the real future X-Men shows up to stop them. Yep, it’s one of those types of stories. As you’d imagine with all this timetravel, it get’s really confusing half way through and you kinda need to turn your brain off in order to follow it without being distracted. Despite the confusion among the chaos, this story is one of the best X-Men stories to come out in recent years and it features everything I love about the X-Men! Mutant discrimination, relationships with each other, and just straight up fun! There are probably a few plot holes that shows up with all the time traveling but it got so confusing to me that I didn’t notice any (although that’s probably because I didn’t pay close enough attention).
All of the X-Men – past, present, and future – has great interactions with each other and it’s fun to see the different personalities work off each other during the event. Cyclops actually didn’t really do much in this story that stood out to me. Present Cyclops just shot a few lasers and stood firm in his new philosophy that mutants should be trained like soldiers to fight off of mutant discrimination (the opposite of Wolverine who believes that mutants should make their own choices and be able to live in piece). Past Cyclops had a moment where he ran away with past Jean Grey (I’ll get to her in a minute) but other than that didn’t stand out much either.
Past Jean Grey and future Jean Grey (there was no present Jean Grey for reasons that are too confusing to get into here) stood out more to me. Past Jean Grey kinda annoyed me near the beginning as she telepathically tells Beast (who she kissed in an earlier issue) that she didn’t trust the Brotherhood when they where masquerading as future X-Men and asked him to run off with her. Beast refused so she immediately went to past Cyclops and asked him to run off and he did. I kinda felt like she was being manipulative here as she knew both of them liked her (heck, she kissed Beast in the issue prior) but one refused she just went to the other one. Then she turns around and tells Cyclops that she felt manipulated by everyone. It just annoyed me a little. Future Jean Grey was pretty interesting as she was much stronger than and her personality was unrecognizable to the Jean Grey we’re used to. She was also much stronger than normal but died near the end do to her own power (isn’t that kind of an X-Man tradition at this point?).
Iceman also had interesting moments here. I’ve recently have found myself liking him more and more recently and I really like the evolution of his powers. Near his first appearance he was practically a joke as he just threw snowballs, his present self is now able to create walls of ice and can use his ice for a lot more powerful purposes, and now we know that future Iceman can actually create living ice creatures. It was never outright stated, but it was heavily implied that future Iceman (then called Ice Wizard) can use some form of magic with his ice.
Those where the major characters that either stood out the most or seemed to need some thoughts on regarding the story. There where several minor moments that I loved while reading this. The relationship between Jubilee and her future adopted-son was pretty sweet to see. I also loved watching Magik interact with her future brother Colossus when they met. Although one of my favorite moments was when present Quintin Quire (think I spelled that right…) told future Quintin Quire (who will become the future Phoenix) something along the lines of “Soooo many questions” and future Quintin says “I got time for one” and present Quintin asks “When do I finally get out of this school” and future Quintin just starts laughing cause he’s never getting out of the school.
The divisions of the teams kinda blurred throughout the story but you could kinda tell where everyone stood. The future versions of the characters where also interesting to see. Jean Grey/Xorn was super powerful, future Beast looks kinda weird but in an cool evil sort of way, and Ice Wizard was a super cool character to see. Future Deadpool had quite a few funny moments and I laughed when he fought/flirted with Psylocke. I found it interesting that Wiccan was part of the future X-Men but no signs of Hulkling was shown. It would’ve been nice if they revealed the two got married or something, but no sign of the green guy!
The action in this was a lot of fun to read and resulted in an awesome climax. Seeing all the different X-Men and Brotherhood fight it out with all their different powers was a spectacular to look at. Especially since we have the past, present, and future all fighting it out.
The art stood up quite well for the most part. Near the end (#9 I believe) I noticed a few panels that looked kinda incomplete or lazy so I think they got a little pressed for time. As with a lot of big stories like this, more than one artist was in charge of it. I do find it distracting when I story switched art issue to issue but it’s understandable. The only artist I really didn’t like in this whole story was Giuseppe Camuncoli. It’s not terrible, but it’s so obviously different from the other artist that it distracted me the most. He just draws the characters a bit differently than the others. But you can still tell what’s going on (usually) and nothing really stood out as terrible.
Overall I feel like the reason this story works so well, despite the confusing moments, was that it had several writers (granted, it was mostly Bendis) that managed to work together to bring us an X-Men story that features all the things we love about the X-Men! Is it the best X-Men story out there? No, it was a bit hard to follow at times, but the character interaction was great to read and the story featured a lot of plot twists that made it interesting. 4.5/5, the only thing holding this story back is the hard to follow story due to all the time traveling.
Okay, so I really want to get another character bio out for you guys but they take so much research and I’m drowning in so much homework that I’m thinking of doing a fairly new character. So I thought: what about a Spidey? With all the new Spider-men out there I figured I could do a bio on one of the two I like the best. So which bio do you guys wanna see: Spider-Gwen or Miles Morales/Spider-man. Miles may be a tad longer since he’s been around a few more years but both of them are fun characters that I would be willing to do!