by Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Stuart Immonen, Wade Von Grawbadger (Artists), Marte Garcia (Colorist)
The Story: Another team of X-Men from the future comes to the past to warn the X-Men from the present. There seems to be a pattern here…
The Review: Battle of the Atom is a strange beast. Acting as both an event and line-wide crossover between some of the various X-Men titles, it tried to unite various threads together to do an immense story where some of those threads would close. It’s also a bit unevenly paced, as it suffers from what I may call the ”Bendis disease”, with close to every event comics written by Bendis suffering from it. The ”Bendis disease” has symptoms like excellent settings and ideas, interesting characters but poor pacing and a propensity toward rushing things along for the climax, however awkward it might turn out to be. While this event seems to show signs of this particularly dreadful malady , does this issue seal the deal on what many might fear for the future of this crossover event?
Surprisingly, it really doesn’t as Bendis delivers not only a neat twist on his story, but he also delves deeper into some of the more fascinating elements that were introduced previously. One of them being the actual future and the events that lead the previous team of X-Men, the very reason and concept that started this whole story to begin with. Bendis plays a bit with the current themes of Marvel Now! with the future he presents, presenting new characters along with the current X-Men readers are familiar with.
It’s actually the concepts and all the newer take on the previous elements established in this storyline that manage to propel the story forward in a considerable manner. The scene in the future along with the newer characters really do give the story new meanings as the time travel aspects are played with along with many of the traditional tropes that are the norm when it comes to the X-Men. All those characters along with the brief pages that shows the future have a high potency of actually wanting to find more, which is always a guarantee of success when it comes to introducing anything new.
Where the issue falters a bit is in a familiar area that everyone could be already aware of considering it’s a Bendis event, the pacing. While there are interesting revelations and some potent characterization to be found here, nothing much happens to move the story toward its next step. The other future X-Men arrive, talk with some of the present X-Men and try to explain the damage to the timeline that could happen, some scenes from the future explain one or two elements, then surprise last-page reveal. As much as some of those characters could warrant mini-series for themselves, they cannot mean anything if they aren’t explained or even played with in scenes that shows who they are and what they can do. Since there isn’t a lot of action to be found in this issue, it’s merely the strength of the concepts that really can grab the readers interest.
There is perhaps another thing that can make the readers interested in the issue and that would be Stuart Immonen and Wade Von Grawbadger on art. Simply put, Immonen seems to channel his Nextwave mojo as he is able to draw double-page spreads with an impressive amount of characters and details without making it seem chaotic and unfocused. The same could be said of his panelling as well, which is dynamic and expansive as Immonen plays with the layouts on the page. His designs, expressions and poses are also quite impressive, which really do help the issue visually. Immonen may be one of the finest in terms of pure superhero art and he shows why here.
The colors by Marte Garcia are also very good as she is bombastic and very energetic, going from particularly dark to especially bright. The violence from the future is rendered with a stark contrast of cold colors with a focus on the warm and deeper colorization, while those from the present accomplish the opposite does with the same method in reverse. Garcia really knows how to balance the outlandish with the relatively normal aspects of the Marvel universe, with the buildings and backgrounds being done with traditional colors as the mutants are represented with anything but classical colors.
The Conclusion: The pacing and progression may still be off a bit, yet the concepts, characterization combined with the utterly excellent art and colorization makes for a worthwhile issue nonetheless.
-Hugo Robberts Larivière