During the Battle of the Atom crossover, one of the questions that lacked a critical answer was: What made the future Brotherhood of Evil Mutants so angry?
Last issue, we got some real answers as Xavier’s origin story was revealed along with the beginnings of his partnership with his half-brother Raze. Without a father to teach him how to control his powers, the abandoned Xavier killed his foster mother and left home to look for answers.
What he found was unacceptable. After Charles Xavier’s death, the X-Men moved on, and from Xavier’s perspective, it seemed as though the very memory of Charles Xavier was wiped away through action and deed.
So what seemed like a mission to correct past mistakes may have been an actual plot for revenge against his father’s murderers. Unable to beat the X-Men of the future, Raze comes up with a plan to beat the X-men in the past without erasing their own selves in the process. In any event the Brotherhood fail, all they have to do is leave notes.
The future has returned with an attack on the New Xavier School by the Brotherhood of Evil X-Men.
With Raze preoccupying the All-New X-Men in the cafeteria, Xorn takes out the Stepford Cuckoos by hijacking Mindee’s mind.
That leaves Emma Frost, Scott Summers, and the young Jean Grey to stand up to the mauraders. With one gigantic blast, Cyclops empties the tunnel of the invaders for a quick regroup.
While the battle itself is entertaining enough, the main purpose of All-New X-Men #27 is to give Xavier a backstory interspersed between the issue’s proceedings.
The first flashback takes place one year ago with his birth. Born to Moira MacTaggert — she’s later revealed to be Mystique — the young Xavier is quickly abandoned when MacTaggert recollects how Professor X was killed.
A few days ago, I imagined what I’d ask Brian Michael Bendis if I could get one question in for an interview.
“What is it about you that Marvel would put their X-Men franchise in your hands?”
Bendis is talented, obviously, and he’s shaping up to be the Chris Claremont of this generation. But that question wasn’t meant to get more information about what we already know — it’s what quality Bendis sees in himself.
What makes him the best man for this job, specifically? More than just work ethic or the ability to meet deadlines — what’s required of the man who would lead the X-Men back to its glory days as Marvel’s most dynamic and storied team?
In the way that Scott Snyder and Batman are tied together, Bendis is now the legal guardian of the X-Men, and after reading All-New X-Men #23, I feel one step closer to understanding why he’s the right wordsmith for the job.
S.H.I.E.L.D.’s missiles rain down on the X-Men below in Battle of the Atom #2, the conclusion to this year’s crossover, pitting various X-Men teams from different times in a battle against each other.
The issue promises there will be blood as the X-Men are attacked high and low, and readers will get some answers to the questions that have been raised.
When one of the missiles lands near some of the X-Men and fails to detonate, the assumed armament turns out to be a capsule that releases a new series of Sentinel. The battle escalates with casualties on both sides, and a final battle between young Jean and her older self culminates in an explosion that ultimately ends the fighting.
The Battle of the Atom series has been plagued with pacing issues, and the big finish(es) is worth the wait now that the dust has finally settled. Though it isn’t as ground-breaking as one would expect, it does have enough meat on it to make it a memorable read with some deep developments.
Chief among the plot points is the battle between future-Jean, Wolverine, and Cyclops. Hindsight is 20/20, and according to future-Jean, the two most responsible for the ill-fated future are the two leaders who separated the X-Men. Yes, it’s official — Battle of the Atom returns readers to where it all started in the Schism mini-series when Cyclops and Wolverine had their most recent major falling out. Their disagreement now comes to a head with future-Jean disowning Marvel’s version of King Arthur and Sir Lancelot, and the pointed finger turns the Cyclops is right debate on its head.
That heated debate which has split readership along party lines has seen some of its arguments play out in the X-Titles. Writer Jason Aaron brings up the debate here and then changes the focus back to the original starting point — when Wolverine and Cyclops parted ways and forced the rest of the X-Men to choose sides. Forget whether Cyclops was right — readers now know that the schism was responsible for the new future, and it’s all Cyclops and Wolverine’s faults.
Battle of the Atom #2 ends with four separate epilogues written for each of the X-Titles. With the Brotherhood lost in the current timeline, some of the future X-Men decide to stay while others return to the future to bury their dead. Some X-Men find solace in knowing there’s hope in the future, while others decide they must do all they can to make sure it never happens.
The fourth epilogue, which is the issue’s biggest development moving forward, brings Kitty Pryde back to the forefront. Still feeling betrayed and having no reason to believe she will ever be secure with her present team, Pryde decides she’d be better off switching sides. To make things even more complicated/exciting/surprising — the original X-Men follow their teacher in joining Cyclops’ Uncanny X-Men.
It’s a momentum changer that gives Cyclops the upper hand especially in light of Wolverine’s declaration that the school matters the most. Turned down by its most prominent students, the school may lose more of its students moving forward. At the least, there’s no love gained between the two leaders of the X-Men, and the schism still stands stronger than ever.
Four sets of artists contribute to the issue, and the art is probably the best during the main storyline, at least in terms of staging and composition. Future-Beast’s death and the reveal of the Sentinels are imbued with drama by penciller Esad Ribic, who’s assisted by Giuseppe Camuncoli. Ive Svorcina, Andres Mossa, and Guru eFX’s colors give the panels showcasing the epic battle a dreamlike and lucid polish, and the Phoenix-reds do well in reminding readers of Jean Grey’s ultimate power.
Battle of the Atom #2 will likely get a trade paperback release, and judging the work as a whole — the crossover skimps on the developments and serves mainly as a vehicle for the continuation of the four major X-Titles. Readers won’t get much more information about the future, despite Jean having seen some of it in her mind. That secret gives the X-Men something to fight over, but without more foreknowledge, it’s difficult for readers to come on board.
While it’s a welcome sight to see all the writers pool their talents for a cohesive story, the crossover suffers from too much push and pull with each issue’s authors putting in their own versions and spins on the story. The crossover could have benefited from more editorial oversight to smooth out the rough edges and get everyone on the same page, and besides the Sentinel reveal, the crossover needed more than just a few mysterious glimpses into the future. Likewise, the mess made with the Brotherhood running rampant in the present time creates more of a headache because it adds more layers to the X-Universe than it really needs.
That said, what will happen to the individual X-Titles remains to be seen. All-New X-Men gets a dramatic change in scenery while X-Men loses Kitty Pryde. Uncanny X-Men now adds a whole team to its stable while following Cyclops as leader and mentor to himself. The book with perhaps the most to lose is Wolverine and the X-Men as Logan seems to be the biggest victim of the crossover as he’s lost the classic X-Men and a lot of clout as headmaster.
Battle of the Atom #2 (2013)
Words: Jason Aaron
Pencils: Esad Ribic and Giuseppe Camuncoli
Inks: Andrew Currie and Tom Palmer
Colors: Ive Svorcina, Andres Mossa, and Guru eFX
Letters: Joe Caramagna
Words: Jason Aaron, Brian Wood, and Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Giuseppe Camuncoli, Kristopher Anka, Chris Bachalo, and Stuart Immonen
Inks: Andrew Currie, Mark Irwin, Victor Olazaba, and Wade von Grawbadger
Colors: Matt Milla
A few years into the future — a future in which the classic X-Men have not returned to their original time — Jean Grey persuades Disco Dazzler Alison Blair to run for President of the United States of America.
It’s not like Grey hasn’t ever put a thought into someone’s head before — and the last time she did so, it came from a more future Jean who gave Scott Summers her blessing so he could pursue a relationship with Emma Frost.
This idea, like her other, gains traction, and Blair gives her victory speech. The world rejoices as mutants and humans alike celebrate their unity.
And then, there’s fire.
Readers get to see the moment where things went so wrong for the presumed X-Men of the future who have traveled back in time to warn the others. To complicate matters even further, the X-Men of the future are … impostors? Or worse: Traitors?
After a slow-roast of a story the first few issues into the Battle of the Atom crossover, things have been set to flash-burn as Magik’s field trip to the future reveals plenty of surprises and plot twists.
In a world where Sentinels protect mutants, and Jubilee is the leader of the X-Men — the real X-Men — something has happened to make Henry McCoy and his associates turn. What it is, no one will say, but when another X-Men team comes to the present time, it looks like three generations of teams will meet for an epic standoff.
Brian Michael Bendis picks up the pace and turns it to 11 this issue. The assassination of the first mutant President and the subsequent chaos looks like it sets something into motion, but there’s more to it than that.
What looks like an attack by the forces of Limbo suggests Magik could be responsible for what’s happened, though there are other questions. If the classic X-Men never returned to the past, it’s assumed their present counterparts ceased to exist because the time-displaced versions grew old from their teenage selves into this very different future.
But why is older young Jean Grey angry at her younger self, besides the fact that her younger self’s decision to stay led to this version of the future? There must be more to it, and the next month’s worth of X-Men issues will hopefully bring more answers.
Stuart Immonen’s pencils are a sight to behold, and he is arguably Marvel’s best artist in their stable. There’s a polish to the art with an amount of detail and thought suggesting Immonen is invested in telling a great story through visuals. It’s not just the character designs — the character expressions and panel composition makes All-New X-Men a cinematic experience with emotion. Take a look at Beast’s angered grimace, and it’s plain to see when and why he turned rogue along with the other former X-Men members.
Marte Gracia’s colors are beautiful, and the brighter colors showcase a future that’s optimistic. Gracia’s high-contrast colors along with Wade von Grawbadger’s inks give the art depth in shadows and a textured feel. Seeing the difference in Colossus’ sheen versus Beast’s fur, and there’s a craft to the art that’s present in the different dimensions of it.
That said, All-New X-Men #17 serving as chapter six of the Battle of the Atom storyline finishes the first act of the crossover. Next month, there will be six more issues. How grand will the finale be? Only a few can say, but as it rolls out to the general public, one can hope it snowballs into something epic.
So far, Bendis has gone counter, flipping the status quo on its head. The future, as bright as it is for many, has a few enemies in the form of a splinter X-Men group. The sides are many — the ones that want the classic X-Men to go back, those who want them to make up their own mind, and the different sets of X-Men in the future who know the outcome. By the looks of it, this X-Men vs. X-Men vs. X-Men story could easily wipe away the bad taste left by last year’s AvX.
And if this turns out worse? Well, there’s a few working at Marvel who know how this story goes, and it’s in their hands to make sure the present leads to a better future.
All-New X-Men #17 (2012)
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils” Stuart Immonen
Inks: Wade von Grawbadger
Colors: Marte Gracia
Letters: Cory Petit