Mann About the Racks: X-Men Battle of the Atom
The first time I ever ventured into a comic shop, it was because I adored the X-Men cartoon. So I will always be an X-Men fan first and foremost no matter what. It recent times it has not been easy being a mutant, and it is no spoiler if I tell you that Professor X has died at the hands of a Phoenix possessed Cyclops and the X-Men are a divided faction. There are two rival schools at odds with each other, the seemingly good guys are at the Jean Grey School for higher learning, with Wolverine as the headmaster. Its nemesis is underground organisation and apparently is the evil school with Scott Summers at the helm. That has essentially been the status quo for over a year now. I would love to be able to say that is all you need to know to read this book, but that would be a lie. However if you want to pick up a mainstream X-Men book, now is essentially the time to do so as we begin Battle of the Atom!
Brian Bendis is one of the most highly regarded writers at Marvel Comics. His epic run on Avengers has created the modern day superheroes we know and love. His stories are solid and exciting and he is able to bring out the personal touches to his characters. The difficult part is trying to balance the two especially when you involve grand stories and aspects such as time travel. At Wolverine’s school we have five other X-Men, younger versions of the original five mutants: Cyclops, Phoenix, Angel, Iceman and Beast. It was in fact Hank that brought them through time in order to show present day Cyclops how he has lost his way, by introducing him to his younger ideological self. Surprisingly this plan did not come to fruition, Cyclops has not changed and the young X-Men have no intention of returning home. Certainly not Jean, who has developed her powers of telepathy and has found out why she is no longer alive in present time. After all the teenage angst and posturing, we finally come to a head and the repercussions of having two Cyclops in one timestream are coming to light.
Brian has written lovely and personal character stories for the original five X-Men and we have gotten to know them quite intimately. It is only in this issue where we finally are able to see what we have anticipated since day one: Cyclops vs Cyclops. I will say only that the results of this are unexpected and very enticing. The dialogue is a great mixture of tongue in cheek youth and serious parental lecturing. The balance has been maintained suitably and it is great to see how Kitty and Wolverine manage a group of young mutants they know so well as adults. The key to this book’s quality is that events actually unfold because for the majority of Bendis’ run, there has been a lot of talk and very little happenings. This is all about to change and it is very exciting and a little nerve tingling.
There are three artists on this book, Cho, Immonen and Grawbadger. Normally this can lend to disjointed reading but it flows quite well, partly due to the balanced colouring of Garcia. The latter two artists have been working on the All New X-Men book and Uncanny X-Men for most of Bendis’ run. There are excellent panels of action, which comes across impactful and destructive, with great emphasis on the powers and weapons of our mutants. The scenes with the two Summers are wonderfully depicted because it is quite clear from stature and outfits they are very different characters, which can be a difficult task to manage. The centre pages of the book are emphatic and panic stricken. The discord and the emotions are well portrayed throughout from the point of view of the heroes affected and the people that care for them. It’s artistically a beautifully constructed book, especially when you consider there are three artists involved.
This is great beginning to the main X-Men storylines and of a larger crossover of the Bendis titles. If there was ever a time to find out what has been happening and be part of the events as they unfold, it has to be now. I do warn you that it will only become more complicated, because there are even more X-Men ready to enter the fray, and who knows from when?!