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Uncanny X-Men #20 – Review

By: Brian Michael Bendis (writer); Chris Bachalo (pencils & colors); Tim Townsend, Wayne Faucher, Jon Holdredge, Jaime Mendoza, Victor Olazaba, & Al Vey (inks)

The Story: Cyclops has declared war on S.H.I.E.L.D. and his opening gambit is a ballsy one indeed.

The Review: There are two ways to look at the war between the New Xavier School and S.H.I.E.L.D. On one hand the book has been building to this moment for twenty issues, on the other it took twenty issues to get here and we still have no assurance that things will be resolved any time soon. Both are valid and illustrate one of the key issues that Bendis has on this series, balancing the future and the present.

Many of this issue’s moments don’t make sense in themselves requiring further developments or the clarity of hindsight. Mystique’s continued plotting, for instance, can intrigue but really offers very little to a reader. This same pattern plays out again and again, whether in Hijack’s home or at the New Xavier School. At the same time, however, much of Bendis’ best writing doesn’t expand the scope of the story, but deepen it. Even in the same scene I just mentioned we find biting dialogue, like when Sabertooth asks how much longer Mystique will continue impersonating Dazzler and she responds, “Until Scott Summers is a party joke and S.H.I.E.L.D. is sold for parts. So I’m thinking until next Friday.”

Even if it doesn’t rank among his best, Bendis’ dialogue lives up to his lofty reputation. When it comes to engaging a reader in the moment, this issue really is quite spectacular. Brief scenes like Scott’s confrontation with an old teammate can feel very substantial. Admittedly that example is rather text-heavy but, while there is a bit of harried visual storytelling, there’s such tension in the dialogue that you might not be able to help getting sucked in. That’s a quality that Bendis has been shooting for for a long while, but it’s very much present in this final scene and the central confrontation of the issue.

It’s clear that Bendis saw Scott’s appearance on the helicarrier as the core of this chapter. Unfortunately a side effect is that most of the rest of the issue is a bit dull, but you can’t deny the power of this sequence. There’s perhaps a little too much time spend on Director Hill’s romantic preferences, but rarely has Scott’s cult of personality been clearer or Bendis’ grasp of his characters’ psychology more apparent.
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Uncanny X-Men #19 – Review

By:  Brian Michael Bendis (writer); Chris Bachalo (pencils); Tim Townsend, Al Vey, Jaime Mendoza, Mark Irwin, and Victor Olozaba (inks); Chris Bachalo and Jose Villarrubia (colors)

The Story: We heard you like Sentinels so we put Sentinels in your Sentinels…

The Review: Back in August Uncanny X-Men received a slight boost when it featured a story about Cyclops facing off against a new breed of Sentinel. In the seven months that have passed, Uncanny has been growing and changing, largely for the better. Now that it’s time to pick up that thread, will it have the same oomph that it once did?

The answer is an ever charming sort-of. Bendis makes no attempt to hide that the past half a year of stories were a distraction. While the events of issue seventeen are mentioned, it’s clear that this series has been off track since the last Sentinel arc. The problem is that, for the most part, the filler was far better than anything that preceded it. So while it is intriguing to return to the mystery Sentinels again, there’s a sense of a backslide that I can’t deny is worrisome. It’s also strange since the event that took us off track, “Battle of the Atom”, ended with a dramatic reveal that S.H.I.E.L.D. has Sentinels, and different Sentinels at that.

Regardless, we’re diving back into Bendis’ main story. Summoned by a surge of mutant activity, the New Xavier X-Men find themselves lured into a trap. Bendis knows his collaborators and the creative team deliver a slick futuristic take on the X-Men. These aren’t the simple androids of the Mark I, and panels like a swarm of alien-looking mutant hunters spawning from the maw of a gigantic Sentinel are powerful and eerie. Likewise, a scene inside Cerebro is the stuff of science fiction, the kind that convinced us to buy sunglasses in middle school.

These new model Sentinels present a solid challenge for the team and Bendis’ answer serves to resolve the problem while significantly deepening the mysteries surrounding it. It’s a situation that is all the more fascinating for the removal of Hijack from the team, but the answer is pretty simple. Indeed, much of the issue seems designed to highlight Chris Bachalo’s contributions.
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Uncanny X-Men #18 – Review

By: Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Marco Rudy (artist), Val Staples (color artist)

The Story: Cyclops finally starts speaking clearly, just in time for the world around him to stop.

The Review: Brian Michael Bendis’ dialogue seems to come in two general forms, razor-sharp character work or droning back-and-forths, and generally you can tell if you’re reading a good Bendis issue or a bad Bendis issue based on which one you get. Of course, there’s always an exception that proves the rule. This issue is that exception.

You see, despite belonging to the prior category, this issue suffers from a myriad of serious problems. After the dramatic events of the past two issues and the accompanying pruning of the team, Cyclops’ X-Men return home to find the All-New X-Men missing, the result of the “Trial of Jean Grey” storyline in their own title. Seeing as this title has no part in that crossover, and thusly nothing to say about it, Bendis retreats back in time to when the original X-Men arrived at the New Xavier School and, effectively, engages in some house cleaning.

It’s a bizarre choice to flashback only to lead back to the present day. The flashbacks don’t particularly benefit from the context and the jumps through time quickly become dizzying. I could easily imagine a new comic reader getting lost. One of the strangest elements is how much of a retcon this feels like, despite Bendis writing the entire story. The events of this issue are interesting, if only in that way that addictive web surfing is, but they don’t feel like natural additions to the story. It also highlights how irrelevant the O5’s move to Cyclops’ school was.

Still, as I mentioned, the character work is up to par with the past few issues. Cyclops’ conversation with Kitty is especially raw. It’s a solid scene, if one that really should have played out the first time someone accused Scott of killing Charles Xavier – which reminds me how many times people refer to “Charles Xavier” in this issue. You never called him that when he was alive…
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New Warriors #2 – Review

By: Christopher Yost (writer), Marcus To (artist), Daniel Curiel (color artist)

The Story: Spurned by the X-Men, the Evolutionaries throw millennia of planning out the window and decide to back a new, more human, horse.

The Review: With the team’s final member making his appearance at the start of issue #2, New Guardians is clearly taking care with how the titular heroes come together. It’s an impressively varied group, but this is the time to prove that the execution will live up to its concept. In that respect, New Warriors #2 is a bit unsteady.

Picking up where we left off last month, this issue opens with our disparate heroes facing off with teams of Evolutionaries. These adversaries are imposing, thanks in no small part to Marcus To’s artwork, but despite the sheer number of conflicts, none of them justify the issue. It’s not that the book lacks spectacle, but that none of these fights feel like the core struggle. I suspect that this will seem less of a problem in trade, but as it’s probably going to be half a year before we see one, Chris Yost should really be providing a stronger arc in each issue.

The Evolutionaries also lose some of their menace this go around. At times this seems like a conscious choice, but in some cases it just diminishes the story. They whine too much and retreat too frequently, though hints of a greater plan keep them aloft.

With thirteen pages devoted to battles with the Evolutionaries or superhero infighting, Yost has to make his remaining seven count. Justice gets some much needed time to shine in the form of a visit to Avengers Tower. This scene could probably have sped up its exposition slightly, but is decidedly helpful to new readers and conveys Justice’s concern without making him seem dull. Then again, maybe it’s just the fact that he’s standing next to ol’ Slim Summers.
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Uncanny X-Men #17 – Review

By: Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Chris Bachalo (pencils & colors), Tim Townsend w/ Al Vey & Jaime Mendoza (inks)

The Story: The newest X-Men battle chickasaurs, carrot people, Shelob, and S.H.I.E.L.D. while simultaneously acting in the greatest Verizon commercial never made.

The Review: In the past few months Uncanny X-Men has become a home for some of the best one-in-done stories in modern comics. After a look at the women of the New Xavier School and a spotlight on Magneto, Brian Michael Bendis gives us a, debatably, more traditional team story.

Another interesting trait of this title is Scott Summers’ emerging habit of putting his students in life threatening danger for training. While the issue hints that Magik is keeping an eye on them, it’s certainly in keeping with his mutant revolutionary status and differentiates his teaching style from Wolverine’s. Indeed, rather than retread classic X-Men ground and send his squad to the Savage Land, Bendis explores a newer locale. In the end the actual difference is pretty limited, but it’s an apt metaphor for what’s going on here.

This is the first issue of Uncanny X-Men where the teaching staff is largely absent. For the first, and the long overdue, time the success or failure of this issue rests entirely on the New Xavier’s students and, fun as a book about Scott, Emma, and Ilyanna can be, these kids are entirely up to the task. Likewise, while we all love a good Savage Land story now and again, Tabula Rasa presents a feeling of mystery and possibility.
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Wolverine and the X-Men #40 – Review

By: Jason Aaron (writer), Pepe Larraz (artist), Matt Milla (color artist)

The Story: I assure you that you’ve never toured a school like this.

The Review: When we last saw the Bricklemoore twins, they had been discovered by the students of the Jean Grey School. Perhaps the most interesting element of this story is the sense of foreboding that Jason Aaron writes it with. We’ve known and bonded with the J.G.S. students for forty issues plus now, we know what heroes they are, and yet the scene is written entirely from Tri-Joey’s perspective. As Eye Boy, Shark Girl, Broo, and Kid Gladiator step towards him in the dark, you realize why S.H.I.E.L.D. is afraid of them. It’s a very interesting idea that keeps the issue feeling fresh and highlights the dueling pressures that Tri-Joey is facing.

Unfortunately, most of Tri-Joey’s story is fairly circular. It’s interesting to compare the knowledge that Joey lacked last issue to the holes in Squidface’s reconnaissance, but ultimately their tour feels a little bit like its treading water until the page count allows the matter to be resolved.  Don’t get me wrong, it resolves wonderfully but, objectively, I see that there was some wonky plotting going on.
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Wolverine and the X-Men #39 – Review

By: Jason Aaron (writer), Pepe Larraz (artist), Matt Milla with Pete Pantazis (color artists)

The Story: You know that awkward feeling when you run into an ex unexpectedly? It’s like that, but with more killer robots.

The Review: After an excellent start last issue, Jason Aaron drops us straight into the heart of an entirely different sort of story. Gone is the breakneck momentum that defined WatXM #38 and Amazing X-Men #1, and in their place is an impressively cinematic tale that, quite appropriately, is about the Jean Grey School as much as any of the characters.

Half the story follows Wolverine as his mission to shut down S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Sentinel hanger is interrupted by Cyclops, lured there by Mystique. Though Aaron’s title has felt somewhat crowded out of the grand scheme of the X-Family by Brian Michael Bendis’ work, this issue promptly reminds you why Marvel trusted him to split the X-Men in the first place. The tension between Scott and Logan is palpable, yet Aaron wisely avoids putting the two at each other’s throats again. Instead, Aaron gives us a slightly awkward team-up, as tense as it is familiar. The script plays with what’s important to each man and provides some impressive spectacle despite its clear focus on interpersonal drama. Aaron even calls in the events of the other X-Books, cleverly contrasting the troubles Cyclops has had with his powers since Bendis’ Uncanny X-Men #1 with the loss of Logan’s healing factor in Paul Cornell’s Wolverine.
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Superior Spider-Man Team-Up Special #1 – Review

by Mike Costa (Writer), Michael Dialynas (Artist), Rachelle Rosenberg (Colorist)

The Story: With Spider-Ock and the rest of the team figuring out the mystery behind the time-travelling Doctor Octopus and Abomination, it’s time to bring the fight to Dr. Jude.

The Review: With how capes comics are usually written nowadays, it’s hard not to perceive them as long-form storytelling, divided in arcs in order to reach their endgame near the end of their run. It was thus in runs like Green Lantern by Geoff Johns, Batman by Grant Morrison, Avengers by Brian Michael Bendis and countless other ongoing past and present. With such forms of storytelling, it’s rare to see simple stories being told and completed with a small number of issues, with the simple goal of bringing entertainment without caring too much about repercussions or continuity.

With the Arms of the Octopus, Mike Costa achieves this simple yet fun method of plot writing. With some twists, action and some clever characterization, Costa made this story rather enjoyable in the previous issues, putting Spider-Ock, the past X-Men and the Hulk in front as they collaborated to solve the mystery of the time-travelling Doctor Octopus. However, does Costa maintains the fun and give the readers a satisfactory conclusion in his very last chapter?

This issue does succeed with both terms, albeit in different ways. The more traditional approach to super hero stories work quite well as the heroes defeat the villain in a way that is on par with previous storytelling methods. They defeat the villain of the piece, Dr. Jude not with fisticuffs but with some clever thinking and cooperation on everyone’s part. It’s part throwback to tales from the 60′s and the 70′s with a modern twist that makes this quite enjoyable for those looking for something competent storytelling. It might not be the most ambitious, but it does its job fairly well.
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X-Men: Battle of the Atom #2 – Review

By:  Jason Aaron; Brian Wood; and Brian Michael Bendis (writers), Esad Ribic; Giuseppe Camuncoli; Kristopher Anka; Chris Bachalo (pencils), Andrew Currie; Tom Palmer; Mark Irwin; Victor Olazaba; and Wade von Grawbadger (finishes), Ive Svorcina; Andres Mossa; Guru eFX; and Matt Milla (colors)

The Story: Fifty years ago, Professor Xavier assembled a team of young mutants, the original X-Men, to protect the world from evil mutants. Today, Xavier has assembled a team of young mutants to eliminate the original X-Men and protect evil mutants from the world. Happy anniversary, guys; hope you survive the experience.

The Review: At long last “Battle for the Atom” has come to a close. Can you believe that this event only started two months ago? At times it seems like it’s always been here.

When I opened this issue, I was surprised to see Jason Aaron’s name on the credits page. Brian Michael Bendis does manage to get the last word, but it’s Aaron who handles most of the heavy lifting. Bendis hasn’t shown his best self on this event, but Aaron was behind the rather abysmal last installment in Wolverine and the X-Men #37. Many of the flaws present in that chapter reappear here, but stronger plotting and more valuable subject matter allow this issue to escape the sins of its predecessor.

Though justifying the sheer amount of time and energy this story has subverted would require a pretty astonishing ending, taken on its own merits, X-Men: Battle of the Atom #2 is a strong issue that closes the book on one tale while writing the first lines of several others.
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Wolverine and the X-Men #37 – Review

By: Jason Aaron (writer), Giuseppe Camuncoli (penciler), Andrew Currie (finisher), Matt Milla (colorist)

The Story: With the original X-Men in the custody of a sinister ‘X-Brotherhood’, the X-Men take a moment to figure out who’s who.

The Review: With this issue, Battle of the Atom enters its penultimate chapter. Last time I wrote about a Wolverine and the X-Men tie-in to the event, Jason Aaron’s enthusiasm proved to be just what the droning storyline had needed, but this month I’m afraid that I can’t quite say the same.

It’s not that Aaron has suddenly lost his skill, but merely that there’s not enough story for him to cover. I don’t even feel that I can blame him, as he works a number of cute scenes into the narrative in order to pad the issue out so that things can be where they need to be for this week’s X-Men: Battle of the Atom #2 .

Where Aaron does fall down is crowd scenes. Battle of the Atom has gotten very populous, very fast, with five distinct teams of X-Men running around. This issue clearly wants to play with that, but while there are some lovely interactions between individual characters – especially between differing versions of the same character – the Aaron’s attempts to bring out the chaos of the situation often feel forced. It’s the same quality that elevates or ruins these moments, too. Aaron’s trademark wit is cute in small doses, but with five to twenty characters all vying for your attention, they reach a critical mass and end up seeming rather trite. The strangest instances of both of these phenomena is when a quality interaction is contained within an awkward group scene, such as modern Bobby’s meeting with Ice King Bobby.
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Uncanny X-Men #13 – Review

by Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Chris Bachalo, Tim Townsend, Al Vey, Mark Irwin, Jaime Mendoza, Victor Olazaba (Artists), Marte Gracia (Colorist)

The Story: The bad X-Men from the future tries to send the past X-Men to their own time as the real X-Men from the future tries to prevent their plans from working.

The Review: There are things we kind of take for granted when it comes to serial storytelling. We always think that character development, story progression and genuine moments of entertainment shall be given to us with each issue. It is something that all issue and writers should strive to give, but sometimes some issues are more miss than hit, which can bring forward frustrating books.

This issue of Uncanny X-Men is unfortunately one of those issues, where a lot of what could make it worthwhile is simply absent. It is a mindless issue that seems to want to give us as many ”awesome” moments as it can, delivering plenty of action but little else, resulting in a read that doesn’t advance the themes or the plot in any significant way whatsoever.
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Indestructible Hulk Special #1 – Review

by Mike Costa (Writer), Jacob Wyatt (Artist), Jordie Bellaire (Colorist)

The Story: Bruce Banner arrives on the scene to help solve the mystery around this seemingly time-travelling Doctor Octopus. Science and smashing ensues.

The Review
: Some writers understand the very basic, yet fun approach that can work wonderfully with certain characters. Each specific title, along with their protagonist, have a certain strength that needs to be put front thanks to the flaws and unique angle that its cast possess. Mark Waid understand how Daredevil’s dashing attitude may lead itself to problem, as Matt Fraction can see the quirks of being one of the non-powered Avengers and how it might affect your perception of daily life in Hawkeye. Those may not be the most ambitious or the subtlest concepts for ongoing titles, yet both works thanks to the creative team sticking with this very vision of their heroes as well as the world that spin around them.

This is the kind of approach that Mike Costa seems to have in mind with this issue, as heroes cooperate together to not only solve a mystery, but kick a little butt as well in the process. This team-up, with special focus on Bruce Banner, seems like an issue from older times, which isn’t a disadvantage in the least.
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X-Men Legacy #18 Review

by Simon Spurrier (Writer), Khoi Pham (Artist) Rachelle Rosenberg (Colorist)

The Story: David shows Cyclops his master plan concerning many of his goals during a somewhat heated discussion. Irony then ensues…

The Review: Simon Spurrier sure knows how to anticipate the expectations of his readers. While it is hard nowadays to truly surprise anyone in most medias, he seems to be able to do so as he plays around with his status quo and with the premise of his story. Doing so in this issue, Spurrier advance the general subplots alongside his characterization David, creating some astonishing moments in this issue. However, for all those surprises, does it advance his general plot as well as create an interesting issue overall?

It’s a bit of a hit and miss, really, as while Spurrier plays to his strengths in this issue, there are some weird pacing issues in this month’s instalment that make for a bit of an unsatisfying experience when it comes to the payoff of some of the longer running subplots.

The strongest point, though, is the characterization as David is being one of the more interesting mutant characters thanks to the reinvention of the character by Spurrier. The use of his powers, his methods alongside how he operates shows the inherent problem the character needs to go through, which is consistent with his evolution as well as his actions throughout this arc. On the thematic side of things, this issue has a very strong display on how David perceive the mutant world and the battle between humans and mutants.
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All-New X-Men Special #1 – Review

by Mike Costa (Writer), Kris Anka (Artist), Jordie Bellaire (Colorist)

The Story: Beast, along with the rest of the past X-Men, fight a mysterious time-displaced Dr. Octopus alongside Spider-Ock.

The Review: There are many reasons to be wary when words like ”Annual”, ”Special” and other such words follow the name of a regular ongoing title. While such accompanying words aren’t necessarily a sign of lesser quality, they aren’t always handled by the regular creative team, which may seem like something rather undesired by the fans. The fact that they mostly tell stories that don’t really connect with the main plot of the ongoing in question doesn’t guarantee a bad story, yet those that follows the plots and subplots about their favourite characters may find many reasons to be unsatisfied. Expectations aren’t always high when it comes to those issue, generally.

It’s a good thing that this very issue is actually quite nice, then, as Mike Costa try to tell an ambitious tale featuring the cast from three different books in three mere issues. With the first one being the introduction to this extravaganza of time travel and costumed heroes, the writer makes some pretty smart choices in his presentation and with how he handles several elements.

The first thing he does correctly is the fact that he gets just who he is writing as the voices of each characters feels right. While not all characters gets the same amount of panel time, Costa seems to know how to balance the different characters around, with the young Beast still being the genius readers know, without possessing the confidence he displays in his current iteration. There is also the somewhat clueless and always-learning Iceman, with his lack of experience and his generally attitude toward the feminine gender. The character he really do make shine though is Spider-Ock himself. The arrogance, the high intelligence, the demeaning attitude and the professionalism about his role as Spider-Man is spot on, with Costa managing to balance Slott’s characterization with a sense of fun that not all writers care to put on display.
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Wolverine and the X-Men #36 – Review

By: Jason Aaron (writer), Giuseppe Camuncoli (penciler), Andrew Currie (finisher), Matt Milla with Edgar Delgado (colorists)

The Story: Having finally tracked down the X-Men, the X-Men battle the X-Men with the help of the X-Men. But what secrets will be revealed when the X-Men join the fray?


The Review: As Jason Aaron finally gets his hands on the Battle of the Atom crossover, the story begins to shift to a higher gear. Part of this is certainly the natural flow of the story; however, you can’t deny that Aaron is a part of it.

The issue does an excellent job of drawing the lines in this admittedly confusing scenario. Without explicitly telling us, we get to know who the major players are and where they fall on the issue at hand. The tension between the two Kitty Prydes is a fine example, quickly establishing their positions and leveraging it into a cute scene. It also displays the difference between this issue and many of the others in the crossover. While Battle of the Atom has kind of felt like a graphic novel released in slow motion, this issue really feels like an issue of Wolverine and the X-Men.

Another thing that’s nice is that, though things stand at the brink of war, all parties are doing their best to avoid it. Some readers might wish that we got a little more of the brawl the cover promised them, however it’s honestly much more interesting to see characters like Wolverine, Cyclops, and even Deadpool try to avoid hostilities. Though it’s against each of their natures, the characters pursue a fragile peace in ways that suit their characters…even Deadpool.

We also get the first real hints of what’s going on with Magik and what the endgame of this event might look like.
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X-Men Legacy #17 – Review

by Simon Spurrier (Writer), Koi Pham (Artist) Rachelle Rosenberg (Colorist)

The Story: David Vs. Cyclops in a big fight. Who shall win?

The Review: In the last review, I talked about action in super hero comics and their necessity. I talked about how many writers sometimes took the action to the forefront without putting the emphasis on the characters participating in the action shown and how Simon Spurrier had somehow made a smart choice in always putting David in importance above everything else. It was a nice issue, yet it could have been better.

As it turn out, Spurrier knew this quite well, as while the action continues in this issue, it becomes much better. This is due to two factors: the focus on the battle between Cyclops and David and the numerous thoughts of David being written for the readers enjoyment. This provide an unilateral voice to the whole issue that brings many thoughts to a single subject, which really shows how Spurrier’s take on David is fascinating.

Despite the slow pacing of the fight and how more than half of the issue is Scott Summers and David Haller trading blows, the constant narration by David bring out his psychology and his philosophy out front. How David sees Cyclops, how a fight really is and the fashion in which he envisions the whole brawl is nothing short of character-defining, making this character move toward a new step in his evolution. As the fight evolve, so does the readers understanding of David, which was really well-told even before this issue.
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Uncanny X-Men #12 – Review

The Story: Oh young Scott…If only you were older, you’d know that trusting yourself has never gotten you out of trouble.

The Review: By now I think most of us have realized that X-Men: Battle of the Atom isn’t actually a crossover so much as it’s an exorbitantly priced graphic novel. The quality is high enough that I’d be happy to sit down with this book, but these are not single issues, they’re not even chapters. Once you accept that you’ll enjoy these issues a lot more, but it means that no one can really fault you if you decide to trade-wait it…well, Marvel probably could but, you know.

It’s almost a shame that Marvel wasn’t able to just fire this story off in one shot, because this issue seriously suffers for it. In a respectable attempt to remain cogent to fans not expanding their pull lists for the event, Bendis takes ample time to recap what’s happened, including a giant two-page panel of the final shot from the first issue, and then allows the Uncanny team to react naturally to these events, even if some reactions are kind of redundant. Unfortunately that means that this is probably the least essential chapter of the story so far.

On the bright side, though, there are a couple of interesting bits and witty moments that add to the greater experience. Thus far Bendis has been awfully honest about the fact that this is really just a lengthy debate of values, and it’s kind of fun to hear all sides. You might say that there’s not much action, but I remind you that 12 Angry Men is still an engrossing movie. You may then respond that 12 Angry Men dealt in real emotional truth rather than depending on your knowledge of better stories that it can get you to summon up. Unfortunately, I won’t have much defense for that.
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X-Men #5 – Review

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.
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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.
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X-Men Legacy #16 – Review

Simon Spurrier (Writer), Paul Davidson (Artist), Rachelle Rosenberg (Colorist)

The Story: David tries to take down Cyclops team as he has a very important message to bring to the man who killed his father.

The Review
: Super hero comics are about action. It’s a very general way to see things and one that lack a bit of depths, yet it is also very true. Why create characters that can lift mountains and punch giants if we don’t see them actually use their powers once in a while? The stories, characters, themes and the direction are important, yet sometimes the readers do like to see what the protagonists are able to do with their powers and abilities when it comes to cape comics.

Simon Spurrier understand this very well, as he gives the readers a very action-heavy issue without having the obvious problems associated with such issues. Even though the issue deals with David showing off the fact that he can beat pretty much anyone, the issue never let go of some of the key themes that makes this series good to begin with.

The first thing he does is actually play on the growing subplot that David is getting a better handle on his numerous powers, which is shown throughout him beating down on many of the characters found in Bendis Uncanny X-Men run. Using the various personalities in his mind, Spurrier shows a David that is in control, which also reflects on the way he talks to those he is beating down. This is a man that knows he’s immensely powerful and it is displayed in his mannerism, speech and his use of powers splendidly.
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X-Men: Battle of the Atom #1 – Review

by Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Frank Cho & Stuart Immonen, Marte Gracia (colors),  Frank Cho & Wade von Grawbadger (inks)

The Story: Yeah, yeah, it’s the start of a big event, there’s a big Sentinel battle, the fabric of time and space are unraveling, that’s all great. But deep down, you know the real reason to buy this comic: the X-Men fight Catholic dracosaurs!

The Review: Brian Michael Bendis is often at his best when his stories compel him to keep things moving. In such instances, he often finds ways to breathe essential character into otherwise mindless fight scenes and compress his well-loved writing style into a couple of choice words.

Luckily for us, X-Men: Battle of the Atom #1 is one of those stories.

Anyone worried about a slow start to this event have nothing to worry about. Though a couple of pages at the beginning serve as a cold open of sorts, after that and the recap page it only takes two more to move the original X-Men from a charming scene in the Jean Grey School to an all out battle in Phoenix, Arizona.

Something of the lighting-in-a-bottle energy that ushered in All-New X-Men is back this week. The youth and exuberance of the original X-Men is on display and finds a strong counterpoint in the skilled Professor Pryde, once the very face of youth and exuberance, herself. Whether that takes the form of their lunchroom interactions or their battle banter, the five of them just feel like a well-established team.

In fact, the issue acts as a fine sampler of what Bendis’ X-titles are capable of, complete with a helpful logo to let you know which pages belong in Uncanny X-Men. The interaction between teams seems primed to be a major focus of this event, so it’s nice to see how well Bendis illustrates the dynamics between the two mutant schools. Bendis really sells the complex feeling of falling into old patterns with friends you’ve grown apart from. It’s less the X-Men and Brotherhood and more the New Mutants and Hellions.
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Uncanny X-Men #11 – Review

By: Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Frazer Irving & Kris Anka (art)

The Story: The next stage in Sentinel technology takes on its human counterpart.

The Review: I think that it’s safe to say that Cyclops’ story is one of the most interesting threads that Bendis is playing with on this series. As he drifts dangerously close to Magneto’s viewpoint, how can the man who killed Charles Xavier honestly see himself as the man’s successor?

Bendis hasn’t been spending too much time answering that question, but this week he gives us a glimpse into Scott Summer’s mind. I expect that reactions to Scott’s inner thoughts will vary as much as they did to he and Wolverine’s schism, if not more, however I also think that the writing Bendis commits to these thoughts are a step above what this title has been getting.

For the first time we see Scott’s walls start to crumble. The responsibilities of being a leader to the mutant movement, the shame and joy of his students’ control rivaling his own, and the cruelty of a world that has finally given him the slightest glimmer of hope weigh heavily on this issue. Little things like Scott’s thoughts on having Angel on his team and his musings about what would happen if he died really bring out the best in him and anchor a character who’s found the only thing to lead with more responsibilities than a nation.

That said, it sometimes seems like Bendis is too close to this story. The opening page begins with a short monologue by Scott which begins, “Human cowards. You never learn.” That sounds like Magneto. That sounds like a particularly one-dimensional Magneto. What’s more, on that same page, Scott expresses confusion when the sentinel refers to him as a terrorist. It’s clear that Bendis at least sympathizes with this character, but sometimes it seems like he’s either blind to differing views or chooses not to bring them into Scott’s title.
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Uncanny X-Men #10 – Review

By: Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Frazer Irving (art)

The Story: Apparently the revolution will be televised.

The Review: Oh Uncanny X-Men, what will we do with you?

It’s been clear from the beginning that this would be a somewhat different incarnation of the X-Men’s flagship title. Brian Michael Bendis has shown a clear enthusiasm for the idea of Cyclops as a revolutionary and the idea of focusing a relaunch of the original X-Men title around, debatably, an incarnation of the Brotherhood sounds absolutely fascinating. So where are things going wrong?

Well, firstly this issue is too dialogue-driven. Some of you may be rolling your eyes at another review calling Bendis wordy, but I assure you that this is an anomaly, even for him. It’s not that Bendis engages in his trademark banter, but rather that very little actually occurs in this issue.

The lack of action doesn’t stop the characters from talking about it, though. Cyclops’ training session is actually quite interesting but it would probably be even more so if Bendis would trust the events of the story to speak for themselves. He’s not telling rather than showing, but he chooses to both show and tell a single action rather than making time for more to happen.
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Uncanny X-Men #9 – Review

By: Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Chris Bachalo (pencils/colors), Tim Townsend; Mark Irwin; Al Vey; & Jaime Mendoza (inks)

The Story: As S.H.I.E.L.D. takes neutrality off the table, mutants begin to turn on eachother…over their haircuts!

The Review: Last time the New Xavier School lost one student only to gain another. This month we find them much as we left them. Cyclops has his hands full training his next generation of mutants, including new recruit, Hijack, and Fabio Medina finds himself faced with Dazzler: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. The two stories don’t take long to intersect and therein lies the fun.

Though it’s certainly a more active issue than the last, Bendis finds plenty of time to introduce humor into the mix. It’s not the same sort as in All-New X-Men, where there are likely to be entirely comedic pages, but this issue definitely reminds you that mutants are teenagers, with all the wonderful and terrible things that come with that. I think that’s been missing from a lot of titles lately, and it’s nice to see Bendis putting it into play. Not to mention that I can’t find character in recent memory with a better ratio of actions taken in a first issue to love I have for them than Fabio’s disco-loving sister.

But rest assured, this is hardly Wolverine and the X-Men. Bendis packs this issue with contention and heady considerations of what it means to be part of an oppressed minority. The drama of the whole mess is expertly mined, but I can’t help but feel that these aren’t the best arguments for the various cases. In this title at least, Cyclops may be right, but that often seems dependant on the Marvel universe being hopelessly bigoted. While I’ve learned to never be surprised by just how plentiful awful people may be, I feel pretty comfortable saying that the struggle of mutants in Bendis’ titles it a bit excessive. Despite being a well-loved character, Dazzler easily slips into some pretty indefensible positions as the plot demands.
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Uncanny X-Men #8 – Review

By: Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Chis Bachalo (pencils/colors), Tim Townsend (inks)

The Story: Magneto and Cyclops have a chat while a pair of young mutants discover that no matter what path they choose to walk, it won’t be an easy one.

The Review: Brian Michael Bendis’ Uncanny X-Men has never quite had the energy that its sister title, All-New X-Men, has… But this month it presses the advantage it does have– its characters. Unlike the other X-Books, Uncanny really has the opportunity to explore the struggle of the new wave of mutants. Bendis put his considerable talent behind two very different ‘coming out’ experiences this month and they positively radiate intelligence, empathy, and respect for his characters. Well, his mutant characters, anyway.

The need for new X-Men stories guarantees that the people of 616 (Marvel’s primary universe) will never fully accept or tolerate mutants. The metaphor of mutants as a minority is a powerful one, but, since Professor X first called his X-Men to him, we’ve seen the Civil Rights Movement, significant strides in the cause of feminism, and possibly even the beginning of same-sex marriage nationwide. In short, you’d think we might have moved on from the possibility of government-funded Sentinels, or at least heard about human advocates for mutant rights a little more often. While there are likely to always be those who cannot find it in their hearts to be tolerant, without a counterpoint, it feels like what we’re encountering are strawmen, and that doesn’t do justice to the book’s human characters, Bendis’ skill as a writer, or those who actually face discrimination.

Bendis also has control over two of the biggest names in mutant history. While the scene between Scott and Magnus isn’t exactly the sort that glues one to their seat, I can’t say that it wasn’t fascinating under Bendis’ pen. Bendis clearly has put a lot of thought into these characters and their unique circumstances only exacerbate the tension between them.

I’m starting to think that Bendis is some kind of Decompression Elemental. The man has absolutely no fear of eschewing traditional comic book plotting for the sake of his story, and a remarkable talent for keeping even the most academic of scenes interesting. Unfortunately, while this makes his work a pleasure to read, it does lead to a two-fold let down once you reach the end. First you realize that very little happened, and then you realize that you’ll have to wait at least another two weeks for more of that wonderful nothing. If this issue felt more connected to an ongoing journey that might feel more tolerable, but as of yet we don’t have much more than a vague mission of “make the world safe for mutants.”
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