Cyclops’ X-Men team begins their tactical assault on the Mansion as future-Beast tries to send back the original X-Men to their original time.
With all of the events so far leading to an epic showdown, Uncanny X-Men #13 offers the first casualties of war.
Magik and Colossus are sent directly into the Mansion while the rest of the team takes on the beefy version of Iceman, Xavier, and the mind-controlled Krakoa.
The classic X-Men have been collected, and future-Jean Grey is unapologetic as her former teammates are placed on the Time Cube for the journey home. The plan to fix the time-continuum doesn’t go as planned when the Time Cube stalls — future-Beast explains the problem with some sciency science. Things get even worse when Cyclops’ team enters in full-force to confront the renegade X-Men.
It’s an action-packed issue with a lot of key developments. Characters die brutally in battle as they’re impaled or dropped from great heights. Interestingly enough, only future X-Men die, pointing to the possibility of deaths of other members later on for balance purposes or a nice resolution at the end which will wipe the slate clean.
Brian Michael Bendis’ scripting is strong, and each battle between rivals gives those involved something to say to show their animosity for each other. There’s unspoken history here, and it feels like there’s a deeper reservoir of backstory that doesn’t need to be on full display — it just needs to be present somewhere in the background. If it ever gets fleshed out, it will add another dimension to the growing saga of the X-Men.
Marte Gracia colors over Chris Bachalo’s pencils, and the combination of the two talents who have so far worked on different books for their respective series brings out their strengths. Bachalo’s pencils are ripe for the sort of bold and saturated colors that Gracia provides. Gone are the distracting pointillism textures Bachalo has used in some of his panels — except for one panel featuring future-Beast — and present are panels loaded with action and cinematic compositions lit with dynamic highlights.
It takes a a staff of five to ink the issue — Tim Townsend, Al Vey, Mark Irwin, Jaime Mendoza, and Victor Olazaba — and they’ve got their work cut out for them with heavy shadows and thick lines. In the past, Bachalo’s pencil work often devolved into abstract shapes that produced hard to interpret panels. In Uncanny X-Men #13, the artwork is defined and clean.
Things are getting real serious in the world of the X-Men. With two issues left to go, Battle of the Atom has already surpassed last year’s AvX debacle with a more resolute storyline, better pacing, solid development, and exciting action. What happens next is up in the air. There could be more casualties, and it looks like the classic X-Men may be stuck where they are. That could mean more issues of All-New X-Men, which is a good thing as long as the team doesn’t over-extend their stay.
Uncanny X-Men #13 (2013)
Words: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Chris Bachalo
Inks: Al Vey, Mark Irwin, Jaime Mendoza, and Victor Olazaba
Colors: Marte Gracia