A fair amount has happened in Battle of the Atom so far. There was a new mutant attacking the streets, a sentinel fight, the arrival of future X-Men, two of the original five running away rather than being sent back in time, and a hunt that led to a quick fight before old and young Cyclops met up on Utopia. And that’s skipping all of the story details explaining why this is happening. This issue is a lot slower, and focuses mostly on what different characters think of the situation.
This was a fun issue. Each of the important characters has their say in whether they should send the original five X-Men back to their time period or not. Those who want them to stay are basing their thoughts purely on emotion, which feels true to life. It was neat to see Cyclops and Kitty Pryde having a similar mindset on this matter when they usually think differently. As much as this issue is mostly dialogue, it’s still focused on the plot and doesn’t feel slow or repetitive. Xavier’s grandson is still suspect, as is old Jean Grey. The ending teaser also promises a fight X-fans have been awaiting for a long time.
Unlike most of Marvel’s events, this isn’t a chaotic mess of battles and exposition with little characterization. That’s the greatest weakness of events such as “Fear Itself” and “Infinity.” This feels more like a battle of wits as different groups and characters try to outsmart each other. It’s not unlike a game of chess, but with dozens of players in the same game. That doesn’t mean this won’t get chaotic though, nor would that necessarily be a bad thing. The story could still go anywhere from here, and considering a teaser image of Quinton Quire showing phoenix powers released today, things are about to get hectic.
The art in this issue is also pretty good. I’m usually on the fence over Chris Bachalo’s art, but thanks to another person on colouring, it works very well here. The shape and size of characters’ pupils often feels a bit off, but otherwise facial expressions are well done.
While some might not enjoy this issue’s slower pace, this is still a great comic. X-Men fans should at least read this.