Comicscape: Battle of the Atom parts 1-3 (

By:Joel Rickenbach
Date: Thursday, September 12, 2013

Welcome to Comicscape! Each week we'll be taking a look at a few of the week's new books in hopes of informing your comic shop purchases, or at the very least giving you 4-color thrills and chills. Read on!

Battle of the Atom parts 1-3- Battle of the Atom #1, All-New X-men #16, X-Men #5 (By Brian Michael Bendis, Brian Wood, Frank Cho, Stuart Immonen, David Lopez and Wade von Grawbadger)
Well this has been a bit of fun so far. We have no less than four different X-teams from three different eras getting tangled in an effort to either let the original X-Men stay in the present, or send them back to the past where they technically belong. The story opens with Kitty Pride taking the time-displaced original X-men on a mission to stop a criminal who is wreaking havoc with her new found mutant powers (which seems to be creating dragons out of thin air). During the fight, Sentinels descend on the scene to wipe the board clean of all mutants (naturally). Kitty’s team has clearly bitten off more than they can chew, but present day Cyclops and his Uncanny X-Men come to the rescue. However, the Cyclops from the past gets blasted by a not-quite-destroyed Sentinel, and apparently dies. When this happens, present-day Cyclops immediately disappears. Christopher Muse, the Uncanny X-Men’s new healer, manages to bring past Cyclops back from the brink, and present-day Cyclops reappears. This brings up the giant question- if the from-the-past X-men can affect their present day counterparts, then shouldn’t they be sent back to the past to live out their lives, on course? Or is this a question of free will? Should the “All-New” X-men be able to make their own decisions?
Of course, it gets even more complicated than that. Just when the argument couldn’t get any more heated, a team of X-men appear from the future to throw in their two cents. Future versions of our favorite mutants are a staple of the X-books, and it’s always cool to see the different interpretations, so I’ll allow it. This rag tag team of nomads features a behemoth-like Iceman, a horned Beast, a mask-less Deadpool, Professor X’s Grandson, and a few more surprises. This future team demands the original X-men be sent back, immediately, as their presence in the current time-line completely screws up the future (naturally).
Besides the fact that this group of future X-men are somehow blocking past Jean Grey’s attempts to read their minds, Jean is keenly aware that at some point in her life she will die, twice. And Cyclops has seen living proof of his future-self becoming public enemy number one, and responsible for the death of the man he considers a father- Professor Xavier. So, what are two young, time-displaced lovers to do? Run away, of course.

Like I said at the out set- we’re three issues in, and this crossover has been fun. It’s crazy time travel and dark futures as only the X-men can do. The idea of past-Cyclops dying and therefore present-day Cyclops ceasing to exist is a cool one, but the brand new Uncanny X-men member, Muse, having the power to heal, lets us see the writing a bit. It’s a little contrived, and would have been a much better “ah!” moment a few years down the line, but ultimately it works by giving us a glimpse at what’s truly at stake. The various “versions” of characters at play simultaneously sounds more confusing than it actually is (There’s 3 Icemen, 3 Beasts, 2 Cyclopses…), the art makes everything quite clear, and it’s actually really cool to see the evolution of some of the characters when they share a panel (Iceman goes from smooth and rounded, to chunky and angular to an iceberg-like behemoth). Speaking of the art- all involved do a great job, with the standout being Stuart Immonen on All-New X-men, he has really developed over the years into a top shelf penciler. I would have liked to see Frank Cho handle the first issue all by himself, but he needed some help from his friends, so we don’t get the full on Cho experience. Hopefully he will tackle Battle of the Atom #2 solo. Also, the covers by Art Adams are fantastic and they really keep a continuity for the on-the-shelf visuals.
If I had one other complaint, it would be with this week’s X-Men #5. There seems to be a bit of shoe-horning going on by trying to take the current plot of X-men and have it effect the crossover. Kitty Pride and Rachel Summers do something a bit extreme for no other reason than Kitty feels like Storm isn’t treating her like an adult. When a team of your future-selves shows up with a dire warning, your workplace drama becomes a bit trite, and it takes some of the weight away from what’s going on. If she distrusted the futures, that would be one thing, but “You don’t trust me enough” is a tough pill to swallow when the fate of your world is at stake.


Joel Rickenbach is a curator of cult cinema at the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA, and can be heard every week talking film, TV and other geekery on the You’ve got GEEK podcast. Follow him onTwitter and hilarity will no doubt ensue.