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All-New X-Men #16 – Review

by Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Stuart Immonen, Wave Von Grawbadger (Artists), Marte Garcia (Colorist)

The Story: In the second part of Battle of the Atom, the current X-Men from the Jean Grey school for higher learning interacts with the future X-Men.

The Review: Brian Michael Bendis is known for a great many things to the Marvel fans. His way of writing dialogue. his banter, his decompression, the way he seems to insert his own favourites in the titles he writes and so on. While he is, like many authors, always controversial in terms of appreciation by the fans, his events are in another category altogether. They always possess a strong basis, one that has potential for pretty good storytelling and action, yet never seems to properly fulfill it. While this isn’t exactly an event comic and more a huge crossover between the various X-Men titles, with two of them being written by him, does he succeed a bit more in telling a story that may satisfy the X-fans?

It’s a mixed reaction, as there are some very strong concepts at play here, with the future X-Men being the key to this issue’s fun. Bendis is never short of ideas, it seem, as he incorporate many elements from the Marvel universe and combine them together with the X-Men mythos to create a team that seems very interesting. The incorporation of characters like Molly Hayes from Runaways and Deadpool to classic characters like Iceman, Beast and Kitty Pride makes for a team that could easily fit into the X-Men continuity. The fact that they also come from the future to warn the present X-Men about the danger of the original five’s presence here also thematically fit into the story Bendis is telling and building up since the start. In term of ideas, this is a winner.

What’s also pretty strong is the characterization, as Bendis sure knows how to play teenage drama as he write the young Cyclops, Beast and Jean Grey being unsure about the whole deal and being generally rebellious. Many of the interactions manage to mesh together exposition with entertainment, making sure the readers aren’t being bombarded with information. The traditional Bendis dialogue is here, yet it does not lessen some of the impact between the interactions at all, which well done.

However, one of the weakness that Bendis possess is in full show here, as there isn’t a great deal of things that happens here. While the discovery of the future X-Men is a nice idea, this is really the sole focus of this issue beside one or two things of note. Sure, we get to see the same dialogue with two different point-of-views, which is a nice touch that leads the crossover to its next step, yet that’s pretty much all there is to it. The pacing here is a bit slow, which does not bode well for how the story might progress in the future chapters. This can be summed up in a word that can anger many fans: decompression.

What might make the readers a bit more positive, though, is Stuart Immonen and Wave Von Grawbadger on art. They possess a certain sense of composition that display a certain amount of realism, though in a very cartoonish way that fits perfectly within a super hero book, as the powers and weirder elements clash with the normal one without making it a negative one. Despite the lack of big action in this issue, there is an energy and a true sense of motion in Immonen’s pencil that manage to make the panelling and the motions seems very satisfying to look at.

What’s good as well is Marte Garcia’s colorization, who balance the high and bright energy with darker and warmer colors in the background or in the design of several characters. This is a play of extremes that work rather well, as the heavy emphasis on lighting do bring out a lot of the diverse elements in display here, playing with the cartoonish and super heroic tones brought out by Immonen.

The Conclusion
: The second chapter of Battle of the Atom bring in some good ideas and some particularly excellent art and colorization, yet suffer when it comes to actual events and the pacing, which is really slow. A nice chapter, yet not a whole lot of things actually happen.

Grade: B-

-Hugo Robberts Larivière

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2 Responses

  1. on the other hand, compared to Age of Ultron, the pace here is downright blistering.

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