And thus ends this year’s X-Men crossover event; a crossover featuring X-Men from the past, the present and a possible future. An X-Men event that started strong, dragged a bit in the middle, and almost finished strong again. This issue has a lot of action, a number of conclusions, and four epilogues acting as teasers for each X-Men series involved. But does it live up to the crossover’s name? There will be spoilers scattered through this review, so be warned.
This issue is mostly one giant action scene, featuring all the X-men fighting the future Brotherhood and SHIELD’s hacked arsenal. As awesome as that sounds, it’s slightly disappointing. SHIELD’s helicarriers shoot missiles that carry a new form of sentinel, but we hardly see anything from these mutant hunting robots. Instead, the action mostly focuses on all the X-Men teaming up against the future brotherhood. As with the last issue, the action is a little underwhelming because of this.
From what I’ve seen of Jason Aaron’s writing, Sentinels aren’t even a threat to the X-Men anymore. After all, the first issue of Schism featured Wolverine and Cyclops tearing through a dozen of them without any backup. Certainly a sentinel the size of an apartment building should be worthy of the X-Men’s focus, especially if it’s a new form as Magneto said.
Some of the characterization is way off as well. I get that Emma Frost isn’t always the most agreeable character in the X-Men Universe, but the line where she argues with storm in the middle of the fight is completely out of place. Aaron doesn’t seem to understand her character, and it often seems as though he doesn’t like her (he frequently denies that in interviews though). The interactions between the three Icemen are kind of boring even though they’re trying to be funny or inspirational.
Several characters die throughout the fight, although it’s only the future X-Men and brotherhood members. Some of these deaths work well enough, such as Xavier’s scrambling of pornstache Colossus’s brain. But old Jubilee’s death makes no sense. A simple sentinel blast is enough to kill a vampire? There’s no explanation stating that it’s more than a normal energy beam. Again, the epilogue dealing with adult Shogo and young Jubilee works, but old Jubilee’s death fails to explain itself. But the worst is probably Jean/Xorn’s death. She successfully fights off the phoenix-powered Quentin Quire without overloading herself, but then overloads herself to death while fighting the relatively inexperienced original X-Men. How does that even work?
The main body of the comic is fun if you don’t think about these things, but the more you analyze the fight, the more problems you’ll find. Thankfully, the epilogues share much better. 1 and 3 are both written by Jason Aaron, and they serve as general conclusions to the event. The argument between Wolverine’s X-Men and Cyclops’s X-Men feels a bit one-sided, especially when Magneto partially agrees with Wolverine. The scene where everyone says goodbye to the future X-Men works fairly well though. Epilogue 2 is written by Brian Wood, and it’s a nice little scene between Jubilee and adult Shogo. Epilogue 4, written by Brian Michael Bendis, serves as a teaser for All New X-Men’s direction in the future, and I won’t spoil it as it’s probably the best of the four.
This review’s gone on long enough, so let’s just say that the art is pretty good throughout. As a conclusion to Battle of the Atom, this is good enough. The fight has problems, but it’s still kind of fun and the epilogues make up for it. If you’ve enjoyed this event so far, this is worth reading. As a whole, Battle of the Atom certainly isn’t the greatest X-Men event, but it’s better than Avengers vs. X-Men was.