by Brian Wood (Writer), David Lopez, Cam Smith (Artists), Laura Martin (Colorist)

The Story: Cyclops and Jean are on the run as several members of the X-Men try to get them back.

The Review: Big crossovers are both a boon and a curse for any book. While many readers that aren’t normally picking up the book shall try out something different in order to gain the full story, the story they may want to read does not always mesh with what went before in this particular title. It’s a double-edged sword that is best handled with care and that may cause more harm than good sometimes.

Unfortunately, this is what happens here as Brian Wood’s X-Men book serves as another chapter in the Battle of the Atom big crossover. What is normally a team showcasing the strong and diverse females from this particular corner of the Marvel universe ends up servicing the story instead of focusing on what make it different. It results in something that tries really hard to please the X-fans and those who wants the next big thing, yet stumbles in some small parts.

It’s not all bad, of course, as there are some parts that continue the strong characterization that Wood is able to give to some of the cast, like Rachel and Kitty Pride, who discuss being left behind to watch the school as the rest of the X-Men goes in search of Jean Grey and Scott Summers. The conversation they have feels like a normal discussion instead of an exposition-heavy dialect that only serves the story and not the characters, which is always good to see in such a book. However, those characters soon come clashing against the story as they merely arrive to grind the story to a halt, give a good ”the reason you suck” speech to the others X-Men and this resumes their roles for the story in this issue. They are well-written, yet their purpose for this issue seems a tad forced and clash against the pace of the crossover a bit.

Some of the scenes that are handled quite well, though, are those with Jean and Cyclops. Them being on the run seems to be the focus of the story so far and it is written with care, as the reasons behind their escape is sound, mixing their desire for continuation and development with their teenage views on reality. They may be in the wrong, yet they are shows as being rather uncertain and insecure about what this all means. However, they still continue to press on no matter what, which makes their scenes enjoyable despite the fact that they move rather slowly.

The slow progress is also a bit disappointing in some ways, as there are many explanations given and a lot of personal moments between some of the characters, yet it is really to the detriment of the progression of the plot. Simply put, there isn’t a lot that happens here as Jean and Scott run, the X-Men tries to catch them. The story so far seems to be quite decompressed and to see it continue in this third chapter is rather disappointing.
What’s also disappointing, yet to be expected, is the low amount of panels and moments directed at the future X-Men, who were the big reveal of the first issue and the focus of the second issue. While they did receive plenty of panel time already, they are part of the big concepts that this whole crossover revolves around. The very low amount of focus most of them receives is a tad unsatisfactory considering the fact that Charles Xavier’s grandson and ”Xorn” receives much more focus here.

Still, as uneven as the reading experience may be at times, the art by David Lopez is good, as his characters are clean, well-proportioned and not too distinctive from the original looks by Frank Cho and Stuart Immonen. The panelling may not be spectacular, yet it does its job fairly well as it keeps the flow of the story interesting enough. Where he seems to excel, when the panels allows him to, is when he draws scenery. The mountains, sea, suburban areas and the likes are lovely drawn, which do makes for a striking contrast with the blue beasts, ice people and flying jets that acts as normalcy for those kind of stories.

The colorization of Laura Martin really helps in that aspect too, as the various backgrounds and elements serves this contrast even better. Big colors and a very rich diversity when it comes to the X-Men versus a much more normal and nuanced palette for the moments with just Jean and Scott. It makes for a striking comparison that helps set a certain tone.

The Conclusion: There are some nice moments and the art is generally good, yet the pacing and the main identity of the book ends up clashing a bit with the whole crossover. A nice read, but not one that is absolutely great by any means.

Grade: C+

-Hugo Robberts Larivière