We’re now at the half-way point in this year’s X-Men event, Battle of the Atom. While I’ve enjoyed the event so far, one can’t argue that the pacing has been a bit slow for a major crossover. Last week’s issue was little more than discussions and dialogue. While it was well-written, it was growing dangerously close to 2008’s badly paced Secret Invasion event. Quite a bit happens in this issue, including a major story revelation. At the same time however, it’s the most problematic issue in the event so far.
The psychic battle between Old Jean Grey and Emma Frost/Cuckoos/Young Jean Grey is probably the best part of this issue, yet it pales in comparison to other psychic battles that have happened before. The only visuals are of psychic punches with glowing colours flying around. With few exceptions, there aren’t many personal attacks or psychic armor shenanigans, which is typical of X-Men psychic battles. It lessens the impact of the fight. It also feels off that old Jean Grey can defeat Emma Frost and all three Cuckoos, yet young Jean Grey defeats her easily. That might be intended as a trick though. On that front, there’s a line saying that Xavier’s grandson is somehow dampening Rachel’s psychic powers – how exactly does that work, considering Rachel’s telepathy is comparable to her mother?
The battle between the other X-Men shakes things up, and for the most part it wasn’t all that bad either. It’s fun to see two different Cyclops’s fighting alongside each other, however briefly. Their characterization is also decent … except when old Cyclops didn’t help Emma Frost one bit after her defeat. It’s also weird that Iceman is having such difficulty against Ice Hulk, especially considering his giant Ice Voltron from WATXM 35. A little consistency please?
Speaking of Iceman, this issue makes him look like the worst babysitter on Earth. Not only is he holding Jubilee’s baby while in ice form (which cannot be good for the baby), but he then hands it to Broo. Even if Broo’s mind has been restored, there must be a babysitter among the X-kids that won’t frighten the baby by appearance alone. The joke isn’t funny and it kind of ruins both characters.
Some of the dialogue in this issue works. Deadpool’s depressing speech about the future surprisingly fits; if he’s lost all of his humour, you know the future’s bad. Except for the last line he speaks in this comic. Some of the other dialogue feels stilted and forced, and Wolverine is almost written as a crybaby.
What saves this issue is the plot reveal at the end, even if it’s really not a surprise. I’ll probably talk more about that next week. For the most part the art is good, which also helps improve this issue.
After two readings, my feelings for this issue are still mixed. I like that stuff is happening, but not all of it is well written. The psychic battle was disappointing, the rest of the X-Men fight was alright but too short, and Jubilee should have picked a better babysitter. Still, if you’ve enjoyed the event so far this is at least worth reading.