So Battle of the Atom rocked our worlds yesterday, and for better or worse, the action is happening and things are getting crazy. Click below the break for Tom’s review and then click to page 2 for Loz’s review. And don’t forget to comment if you feel strongly about something we have said.
Battle of the Atom #1
The action kicks off in BotA #1, and even though there were already a lot of spoilers out there, this issue still contains enough twists to make it worth the read. The issue opens with a wonderfully atmospheric bit, where Magik ‘breaks the rules’ and catches a glimpse of an apocalyptic future – one that, we have been assured, is somehow the same one that looked rather utopian in Wolverine and the X-Men #29. Of course, just because this is the same future, it doesn’t mean Illyana has travelled to the same point in that future; the BotA X-Men could be before… or even after, meaning it all goes to pot after WatXM #29.
There’s then a wonderful ‘recap’ page that frankly seems to tease that BotA may be the story where the schism between Wolverine and Scott is finally brought to an end; and this also suggests that, of the five All-New X-Men, Jean is the most important. Cho immediately sets up the tension by literally having death hovering over the ANXM.
The story then moves to the present day, with the ANXM acting as the focus. And am I the only one who chuckled that the problematic new mutant light appears in Phoenix, Arizona? I love the way the ANXM work, with their dialogue and development; it’s brilliant, and never more atmospheric than when the ante is upped and the Sentinels arrive in force. The intimidated expressions on the ANXM’s faces are really well-rendered.
Bendis then brings in the Uncanny X-Men, and in a well-done twist the younger Cyclops is almost killed – but not in the scene that was teased, neatly playing with reader expectations. One thing immediately becomes clear here: the rules of time have indeed changed post-Age of Ultron, and this really does make the presence of the ANXM in the present all that much more dangerous. The scenes of Scott’s near-death are brilliantly done, especially with Jean’s concern bringing an end to the ‘rejection of Scott’ arc she was running through.
And here’s where it gets interesting: just as the X-Men are about to send the ANXM back to the past, the future X-Men turn up. I sat staring at those two pages with fascination, because their timing stank. If they were really travelling back to this time in order to make the ANXM go back to their own time, then they couldn’t have picked a worse moment to arrive in. But if these future X-Men actually want the ANXM to go on the run and stay in this time..? Well, then their timing couldn’t have been better…
All-New X-Men #16
Bendis continues with a second part that’s just as good as the first, and that gives us some quality time with the future X-Men – essential if we’re to feel any sense of drama. Yes, in reality this is a slow issue – only one thing really happens in it, Scott and Jean go on the run. But it’s also necessary at this stage, so I’m willing to accept that. Besides, the comic is filled with suitably fun character moments, such as the reconciliation between Scott and Jean getting deeper, and the three Hanks facing one another. The Sentinel threat continues to be upped, too.
The future X-Men are fascinating. What’s happened to Iceman? And I find myself absolutely loving this new Xavier, a character whose existence made me cheer. I so want the current era version to show up, and live up to his destiny. The big reveal at the end – Xorn’s true identity – is grand and exciting, if a tad repetitive when you consider that future Hope was wearing Stryfe’s armour in the latest arc of Cable and X-Force; in actual fact it was a minute before I recognised Jean, as I initially thought it was another Hope.
In spite of the fact Jean’s back (teased in Wolverine and the X-Men #29), I’m still not convinced that these future X-Men are on the level. I think Jean is right to be suspicious of Xavier’s psi-shielding. So we’ll have to wait and see where things head…
There’s a brief reminder of what’s going on with older Scott, too, with the ongoing debate about what involvement SHIELD have with the Sentinels; that’s well handled, and real fun to read.
Click to page 2 for Loz’s Review