I genuinely had the idea to compress the first three issues of Battle of the Atom into a single issue. I then realised how much work that would actually involve and decided to do a refined version. Hence we now summarise the plot of Battle of the Atom in five panels, and I do appreciate how not every panel is a single panel but sometimes an essential sequence. This post represents my frustration with the series, especially considering it is ten issues long and, in accurately representing the Bendis X-Men work, not a lot has happened. I have little to critique regarding the writing as the dialogue is well versed and I like the teenage quips throughout. However it lacks action and the involvement of yet another X-Men team from the future, is just self indulgent and indicative of the dried up well of ideas. It upsets me greatly given how much love I have for the X-Men and I hope it resurges to a decent conclusion as I am still haunted by memories of AvX. Before we venture into the story I must make a point about the raison d’être of All New X-Men: Young Cyclops was supposed to help his older self realise his loss of innocence and values. We have moved through 16 issues of this comic and have yet to address this issue but, in the context of this crossover, suddenly we feel the need to confront their presence in this timeline by brining in a future version of the X-Men. This makes little sense because it is obvious that their presence causes all kinds of temporal contradictions, we do not need another timeline of mutants to explain this. Either way this is a good introduction to our first panel.
Panel 1: Battle of the Atom #1 – We only just realised the problem with two Scotts
This is a beautifully drawn sequence, especially with young Scott and Jean embraced with what just happened with Christopher behind them realising the true extent of his power. Young Scott is killed and older Scott suddenly disappears, but once healed by Chris both are returned. Its depicted well but it should come as no surprise to anyone that wiping out a characters existence is a significant complication of bringing a character from the past. And Beast is supposedly part of the Illuminati. This was a good first issue and the art was fantastic and covering the distress and concern of all involved.
Panel 2: All New X-Men #16 – X-Men from the future arrive and scare the kids away
We caught a glimpse of these future guys at the end of the first book, but we elaborate more on the reason for arriving in this issue. They have come to prevent a disastrous future, now there is an unoriginal idea. I honestly couldn’t understand the fine details of the plot where it is decided the having duplicate mutants in one time is a big problem, and then more people come from the future to say it is big problem. Not only that, but they do not specify what is so catastrophic in the future. In ultimate hypocrisy we are treated to a panel where there are three versions of Beast and Iceman and two versions of Kitty. The message is very clear but no one seems to be taking it seriously, perhaps another set of mutants are required. This panel was also chosen because it subtly highlights the potential deception of the psi-shielding employed by grandson Xavier, which caused Jean and Scott to run away in fear. It is worth mentioning that there is a mutant in the Xan mask (you can see it in the panel) and the big reveal in this issue was that it is an older Jean Grey. I felt unjustified wasting a whole panel on that revelation.
Panel 3: Uncanny X-Men #12 – Wait! The two Cyclops’ are getting along? Beast was really wrong
This is a delightful little panel bringing us back to the wonder and awe of the X-Men meeting their younger selves in the first issue of All New. There is a lovely array of colour and costumes on display and the dialogue from Magneto and old Cyclops is aptly mature. You may wonder what happened to chapter three of BOTA, well don’t because nothing happened. Wolverine and the future X-Men try to track down Scott and Jean, only for them to escape again and take refuge with older Scott and the Uncanny crew. I also love the younger recruits trying to understand what is happening in all of their innocent glory. Unsurprisingly the issue ends with our canny mutants with their future selves returning to take the young couple back, with Jean attacking Jean.
Panel 4: Wolverine & the X-Men #36 – Argument resolution through the medium of violence
This sequence occurred in the latest issue of BOTA and is a wonderful little sequence of Scotts and Jeans. There is a great contrast between young and old Scott with their completely different outfits and use of their power. Older Scott has poor control of his blasts and this is nicely shown with both prodigal sons fighting side by side. This panel speaks volumes considering the mentality of older Scott and how he has developed from his younger namesake. There is a subtle overtone that perhaps young Scott has already agreed with his older self and believes in his fight, which he is destined to do all along. It also plays into the use of children as soldiers that fractured the X-Men to begin with. The full psychic assault of the older Jean to her younger self is somewhat ridiculous. Even if she has control of her power to not murder her young self, it is clearly portrayed that younger Jean is putting up a fight. The risks of this battle are immense and makes you wonder why diplomacy has not played a bigger part. When older Jean allows herself to see into her future, we finally come to an obvious conclusion, as shown by the next and final panel.
Panel 5: Wolverine & the X-Men #36 – Was this not suggested in the very beginning? Kids these days
I know we are dealing with children, but we have gone through five chapters of this crossover and finally have come to the conclusion that there are big problems with the young X-Men staying in the wrong time. It only took running away twice and a fight to realise it, but we got there in the end. As you can tell by my sarcasm that we have made little progress in this story and I find it incredibly frustrating. Everything seems incredibly obvious and the hypocrisy of further timeline disruption to solve a timeline disruption, is what led to Wolverine breaking the universe in the first place in Age of Ultron. I would love some originality of thought to accompany the lovely art we are seeing, but I wait with baited breath. Now there is a twist coming, but I have no intention of spoiling that because it is the only reason I am buying the next chapters and I hope it may inspire you too. Now if I can summarise the next five issues in five panels then I will, but the fact that I can, will anger me greatly. I will leave you with a great panel of Scott and Wolverine conversing, and it takes me back to Schism and the reason what the X-Men divided in the first place. Note how Cyclops has a complete stranglehold on Wolverine’s argument.