I’m reviewing both of these as one because they both released this week, they’re part 1 and 2 of the Battle of the Atom X-Men crossover, and they were both written by Brian Michael Bendis. These two issues flow together perfectly and they could easily be read as one. This event features X-men from three different timelines, taking advantage of the “time is broken” theme from the end of Age of Ultron. I’ve been mildly looking forward to this crossover since it was announced, so let’s see if the wait was worth it.
This is a great start to this year’s X-men event, even if it’s not completely flawless. The story is set up perfectly in the first issue, as is the severity of the situation. The action kicks off when a powerful new mutant starts causing trouble downtown. The original five X-Men, along with Kitty Pryde, head over to investigate. Things quickly spiral out of control when a bunch of sentinels show up, followed closely by adult Cyclops’s Uncanny X-Men. It’s a rare team-up by the opposing groups that doesn’t start with any arguing, and it’s great to see them working together so smoothly. Then Young Cyclops is nearly killed, and before he’s healed, time and space starts warping. In other words, any injuries or deaths to the original X-Men will have serious repercussions.
The rest of these two issues is mostly character drama with the original five and the current X-men. The future X-Men’s arrival further complicates things, leading to a situation that could easily spiral out of control. Throw in a huge plot twist at the end of ANXM 16 that will likely get fans of a famous X-men character excited. So far, this is the best X-men event in a while.
The art in both issues is great. Even though they’re drawn by different artists, they feel consistent from one issue to the next. The style is similar enough that they flow smoothly into each other. Different aged versions of characters are easily recognizable. There’s a lot of detail on character designs and costumes, and the environmental detail in the X-lab is great.
That said, these issues aren’t completely without problems. There’s a line where Cyclops berates Kitty Pryde for bringing the original 5 into a battlefield, yet he’s doing the exact same with his teenaged X-men. While it sounds like something Cyclops might say, Kitty Pryde is the kind of character who would point out his hypocrisy. I’m not sure what old Iceman’s deal is, but his roaring self is a downgrade from his already limited personality. It was funny how the other two Icemen reacted to him though.
But my main complaint is the total lack of younger X-Men characters in the future X-Men team. They couldn’t even throw in one, and it would have been the perfect opportunity to do so. They could have easily threw in Pixie, who has a sizable fan base herself. They could have thrown in Kid Omega, who is one of the few consistently good things in Wolverine and the X-Men. They could have thrown in an old member of the New Mutants – it would be nice to see one of them again soon. How about any of the Craig Kyle/Chris Yost New X-men characters or Laurie from Generation Hope? I know throwing in too many characters would make things messy, but it’s a shame that they didn’t even use one. Molly from the Runaways is fine, but she’s not technically an X-Men character.
Complaints aside, these comics were great. I’m pumped for next week’s X-Men 5, written by Brian Wood (whose been killing it with the all-female X-men team). The implications with the future X-Men are delightfully suspect and it’s hard to know exactly where the story will go from here. If you’re an X-men fan, you should at least read these issues.