Thursday, September 19, 2013

Review: X-Men - Battle of the Atom Part 1

[NOTE: While I started this review two weeks ago it’s taken me a long while to get around to finishing it. As such I’m behind on this whole thing, but hopefully I can catch up by the weekend, or at least by next Monday. No promises]


It feels like I just went through an X-Men crossover but technically it’s almost been a year since I did the last review for Avengers vs. X-Men. Still it seems like X-Men: Battle of the Atom sort of sneaked up on me, even though I was well aware of it. But I am interested in it so I’m going to tackle it, thus spamming you non-comic book fans for several weeks (months?) with unwanted comic book rambling. You’re welcome. Anyway X-Men: Battle for the Atom is a new ten part X-Over (as the cool kids call them) that is moving through X-Men, Uncanny-X-Men, All-New X-Men, and Wolverine and the X-Men in addition to its own self-title two-parter. It features the present day X-Men and the time-displaced teenage X-Men from the past facing off with against team of time-displaced X-Men from the future.

Have I mentioned that superhero comics often don’t make a lot of sense?

Normally I like to have pre-blogs that set up these big events but, as I said, this all kind of sneaked up on me and I didn’t have time. There’s not a heck of a lot of stuff you’d need to understand, really only two things, but I do feel we should talk a bit. So let’s do so right now VERY briefly.

Time travel is a very common plot device in X-Men comics, to the point that no less than three X-Men are actually from varying alternate futures. One of the most famous X-Men stories, Days of Future Past, set the stage for the team to have many, many time travel epics…a lot of which were dumb. It’s such a cliché at this point that certain X-Men can just build time machines casually and the team can pretty much go into the future or past anytime they want. It’s really important to note that Marvel Comics' official policy when it comes to time travel in their stories is that when you travel into the past you cannot change history, instead you merely create an alternate timeline (hence why Bishop, Cable and Rachel Summers can all exist in the present). However this is a rule that is broken ALL THE F**KING TIME! It gets broken so many times that in every instance I hear a writer or editor cite this rulewhen justifying something I kind of want to deck them. Bottom line: Battle of the Atom is by far not the first time this plot device will be used and it won’t be the last.

"Stay tuned for 33 years of Marvel recycling this story over and over again"
As we saw in AvX #12 and Uncanny X-Men #1 Cyclops, now a fugitive, has become the face of the mutant revolution which has freaked out his former teammates. Beast somehow gets the moronic brilliant idea to kidnap the original X-Men (teenage versions of Cyclops, Beat, Iceman, Angel and Marvel Girl) and bringing them to the present in order to somehow guilt trip Cyclops into surrendering to authorities…or something; it was not a good plan. When this doesn’t work (OH REALLY?!) everyone apparently decides that it’s okay for the teens to just hang out in the present for a while, despite the fact that they’re risking the fabric of reality by doing so. In fact the teens have already have experienced game changing alterations as the team now greatly distrust Teen Cyclops for shit he hasn’t done yet, Marvel Girl dumped him in favor of Teen Beast (Marvel Girl is Teenage Jean Grey so this is very bad) and Teen Angel has abandoned his friends to join the mutant revolution. Good job breaking time and space, modern day Beast.

A review of Battle of the Atom Part One after the jump.



Screw Wolverine: When there's trouble you call Kitty Pryde!
For the record this a review of X-Men: Battle of the Atom #1 and was written by Brian Micheal Bendis with art by Frank Cho with Stuart Immonen and Wade Von Grawbadger and colors by Marte Gracia.

 At an unspecified point in time Magik disobeyed Cyclops’ explicit instructions and used her powers to visit the future in order to see how the present day events would eventually play out. Back in present day the original teenage X-Men continue to live at Jean Grey’s School for Higher Learning under the tutelage of Kitty Pryde with seemingly no one caring that they’ve decided to stay indefinitely. Cerebro informs Kitty that a very powerful mutant has been detected in Phoenix, Arizona. She brings young teen with her to confront the new mutant but when things take a tragic turn everyone finally realizes what a catastrophically bad idea it was to bring the past team into the present.

There’s not too much to report in this issue as so much of it is just set-up. If you haven’t been keeping up with the X-Men comics this issue does a good job of letting you know what’s been going on lately, what with the school split and the “X-Men From Days Past” or whatever you want to call them. That said I was a little (Ha!) put off by how causal everyone was in regards to the time displaced teens. I haven’t been reading All-New X-Men so the exact details of what’s been going on over there escape me but in this issue at least no one seems to think anything about them being there until time and space is nearly irrevocably changed. Then all suddenly it’s all “You being here in the present is too dangerous.” No shit, assholes. Is it any wonder that they don’t want to leave? Up until then it’s been perfectly alright to spit in the eye of Father Time and let them see all the horror and death their choices eventually take them. I’ve heard All-New X-Men has produced some pretty good storytelling but that it’s taken the X-Men fifteen issues (as of Battle of the Atom #1, I mean) to finally decide that having them there is dangerous is pretty ludicrous.

Something tells me we wont be seeing much of this lady down the line...
I liked the artwork for the most part. I suppose there were some instances of the coloring being a little weird in certain spots but that’s a fairly minor complaint. This isn’t exactly something that’s limited to this issue since it’s a major part of All-New X-Men but I thought the idea of Shadowcat being the Teen X-Men’s teacher (“Professor K”) was both ironic but also appropriate. Plus she’s pretty good at it. I’ve never really thought too much her as a squad leader until this issue. That might be something future X-writers may want to take into consideration.

Nothing much happens in this issue aside from the aforementioned paradox that gets resolved, but that should have come to a head months ago in my opinion so the whole thing didn’t really do anything for me. Like I said this was mostly set-up and the only really relevant thing to occur was literally in the last panel of the book. I assume this is partly why part two of this story was released the same day, as to having to wait a wait a week for the next part after a whole issue of nothing would have been annoying. Honestly speaking I’m not certain how important this issue even is for the series as a whole. I guess we’ll see. It’s an okay start but at this point we don’t know anything. We don’t even know what the premise of the crossover is at this point, let only who the shit these future guys that Magik saw are. So that’s a little frustrating. However the issue itself, for the content it presents, is still solid and has a few cool scenes to make it worth checking out. 

Cyclops being awesome, because, you know; he's f**king Cyclops.
I give Battle of the Atom #1 3 Adorable Pandas out of 5


Pros 

-Good art 

-Solid story 

-Easy for new readers to get into 

-Solid characterization 

Cons 

-The X-Men are dumb as hell (not limited to this issue) 

-Seemingly not a lot happens in this issue

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