Battle of the Atom – Seven fights, Five deaths and almost an story

(This article was brought to you to the only kid in my village in India with Wifi! I am very thankful)

Whatever your complaints may have been about All New X-Men and Uncanny X-Men, and however you felt about the original five X-Men coming to the present, this crossover aimed to resolve some of these issues. The story began with the most obvious of time related anomalies, Scott dies in battle meaning his older self also ceased to exist. The temporal repercussions of this were never fully explored because he was quickly revived. Therein lies the crux of the argument in the very first issue, and it was expected we would have some interesting plot threads unravelling from this baseline. Instead we had multiple skirmishes amongst approximately five X-Men “teams” and a S.H.E.I.L.D. arsenal slipped in for good measure. It serves at least one suitable purpose, a recap of the story:

Seven Fights

Fight 1 – Young X-Men vs Sentinels

1 Battle of AtomWhen Kitty takes her young original X-Men into the field to rescue a new mutant, they encounter an unexpected (but totally expected if you are an X-Men historian) sentinel brigade. The Uncanny X-Men headed by Cyke come to their aid, much to Kitty’s relief. It is here the aforementioned transient death of the Cyclopses occurred. The aftermath leaves Wolverine’s X crew unanimously deciding the young guys need to go back home, before a random group of mutants arrive from the future. Uninterestingly they seem to have time travelled to prevent the reverberations of the original time travelling escapade. So they have arrived just in time to agree with everyone?

Fight 2 – Future X-Men vs Wolverine’s X-Men

2 Battle of AtomThe next fight was psionically triggered by a mistrusting Jeanie, as her and Scott make an escape. It was a slight tussle with minimal damage, but led to the future mutant Xorn revealing himself to be none other than good old Jean Grey. I believe we are to assume that she is the Young Jeanie, who has been transported at the inception of All New X-Men. This relatively unimportant fray continues on a beach, where once again Scott and Jean slip away. But this time they actually reach their last hope of asylum, Utopia.

Fight 3 – Future X-Men & Wolverine’s X-Men vs Cyclops’ X-Men & Young X-Men

3 Battle of the Atom

As with all of the conflicts, they seem too start suddenly at the point at which some character is revealing an essential plot point. It is the foundation stone of the single comic, where in order to build suspense, heroes ready their weapons as grandstanding gesture. As a readership, you may say we have matured because now the suspense lies in our desire for plot development, especially considering fights in this book lead to insignificant consequence. Anyhow I digress. As soon as Scott declares his willingness to help his younger self and Jean, the Wolverine and future factions of X attack. This was one of the better confrontations, as it is fan serviceably enjoyable to see Emma attack Jean. The battle of the minds between Jeanie and cynical Xorn was well illustrated and led to a formidable conclusion. Jeanie catches a glimpse of her future and decides it is not for her. Therefore the battle ends with some cuts and bruises with everyone in agreement: Those pesky kids gotta go. So we are all on the same page right?

Fight 4 – Future X-Men vs Wolverine’s X-Men

4 Battle of AtomEverything was going according to plan, until that girl Magik, who takes young Bobby and Beast to the future to discover the truth. The Xavier grandchild realises their folly in not observing two of the youngsters, and then unveil their shroud. Welcome to the new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, a clumsy homage to the previously well-known incarnation. Everything falls apart and Wolverine’s X-Men are duped and doped into slumber. The evil fake future X-Men take over the school, capturing Wolverine and his team and attempt to repatriate Jean, Scott, Warren back to their own time. This fails for some unknown reason (NB remains unknown at the end of the arc) and in the meanwhile Magik has returned to the Uncanny crowd with not only Hank and Bobby, but apparently the real X-Men of the future. Here cometh another, not the final, showdown as older Cyclops comes to Wolverine’s rescue.

Fight 5 – Cyclops’ X-Men & Future X-Men vs The Brotherhood

5 Battle of the AtomAs you can see the sets of X-Men are becoming more and more complex. This is a mission to combine the younger guys and bring the fake futures to account. The evil X-team is now called the Brotherhood, a clumsy homage to the previously well known villainous X-Men. The power set of the evil X-Men is quite impressive and focused around Jean and Xavier’s telepathy skills; otherwise you would imagine two X-teams vs one is a foregone conclusion. You will note that any lasting repercussions of battle occur only with future mutants, allowing for the impact of battle to be emphasized but more unfortunately fail in producing an emotional impact to the reader. In said fight, we lose Deadpool who was a passing indulgence anyhow, and Xavier’s son is crippled, posing as an ironic twist of fate. Unfortunately the bad guys escape and Cyclops’ team successfully liberate their nemesis team. Please note that Wolverine remains ever so gracious.

Fight 6a – The Brotherhood vs Cyclops’ X-Men, Wolverine’s X-Men, Young X-Men & Future X-Men

6 Battle of the AtomThe Brotherhood travel to the secret Cape Citadel, a S.H.I.E.L.D. base which apparently has a time machine. Though this was a red herring in truth, because their plan B is to trigger a civil war between mutants and humans, using S.H.I.E.L.D. as the trigger. The multiple teams of X-Men make their way there, and the battle promptly ensues with the Brotherhood hopelessly outnumbered. The only way to equal the sides is to telepathically control the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier and their arsenal of anti-mutant deterrents. I say deterrents but there is really only one deterrent, cue more Sentinels.

Fight 6b – The Brotherhood & S.H.I.E.L.D. Sentinels vs Cyclops’ X-Men, Wolverine’s X-Men, Young X-Men & Future X-Men

7 Battle of AtomClearly there are a ridiculous number of characters in this final, yes I said final, battle. Ultimately the Sentinels became the number one priority, which was Brotherhood Beast’s plan all along. Unfortunately there was no reunification of mutants as he had hoped, but instead future Jean loses control of her powers and effectively explodes. I mentioned earlier that bringing in a character that loosely connects to a hero we all know, does not necessarily bring the emotions attached with it. Unfortunately, losing yet another Jean fails to produce prominence to the battle, because we have no empathy for her character as it was never allowed to develop. This also applies to future Colossus, leader of the actual X-Men, who was quite the jovial mutant that I started to like, but not enough to be sad at his death. However I do feel for Magik, who clearly misses her brother, because we have had a wealth of exposition with respect to their relationship previously. The story ends with a number of prologues, which should tie up loose ends, but in reality conclude some flawed character developments and rely on a big twist to see out the crossover. Amongst all this fighting I am sure there is a pertinent story trying to crawl its way out, but it is certainly not obvious. Do not let us rest until we have reviewed the potential possibilities.

Almost a story?

A future civil war & Xorn’s shame

XornThe story is focused upon time travelling mutants and the existential difficulties with temporal mechanics. In other words, when the younger version of you dies, so does the current version. We elicited this fact in issue #1 with no other time travellers in sight. Then a future team arrived pretending to be X-Men believing in Xavier’s dream, but in actual fact they are firmly of the classical Magneto opinion. They have given up because, from the flash future panels, a mutant president was elected but the humans revolted and a civil war raged. Hence the reason why a future X-Men group are also in existence, to stop the Brotherhood. There is something incredibly familiar about all of this. The Brotherhood return in time to stop the young X-Men from staying in current time. As far as I can tell there is no mention that their mere presence triggers, a further civil war in the future. It already exists in the current mutant climate without time traveller intervention. However one additional detail is essential to this story, Jean Grey, aka Xorn. She has a secret so devastating that it has to be erased from existence, she needs to be erased from existence. This is the real reason for the return but unfortunately her shameful act was never revealed. The only way for the story to make sense is for Jean to have committed a serious level of genocide, intentionally or unintentionally, post presidential election civil war. This means that by returning young Jean back to her time, Xorn fails to exist to commit such atrocities. Amazingly this bears no relation to the civil war of the future, because it is still happening anyway. Unless Xorn is also responsible for that, then I can understand why she hides under a mask!

BeastAs a final incongruity Jean shouts at Wolverine and Cyclops for dividing the X-Men. This happens in the future anyway, otherwise why is there a Brotherhood and an X-Men team post presidential election? There is a moment of hilarity with the unceremonious departure of future Beast. As they try to develop a ruse by having S.H.E.I.L.D. fire on all mutants, he shouts a rallying cry to unite the X-Men but is then immediately killed. The current X-Men cast no doubt on S.H.E.I.L.D. and immediately carry on defeating the Brotherhood. As a plan B for the Brotherhood, it fails in reality but failed much earlier at its inception. Given all that has come before, given that there two X-Men teams that do not wish to start a war with humans, do you really imagine that a S.H.E.I.L.D. sentinel will bring everyone together? It is a poorly executed plot after thought. This story has been done exceptionally well in the past, with two leaders that epitomise the mutant race dichotomy: Magneto and Xavier. Besides this has absolutely nothing to do with Xorn’s problem, and I imagine once they converted everyone to the ways of the Brotherhood, young Jean was then going to be sent back home? It is an ideologically unsound premise that resulted in a massively confusing story arc.

Kitty Pryde

KittyKitty plays the role of the independent advocate of the young X-Men, and is a role that is performed successfully at some points. She provides the counter argument to the overwhelming evidence pointing to sending the kids home. It is a simple truth, they should be allowed to do what they wish. It is a difficult position to justify because we did see both Scott’s die, but it is not the first time a character from another time sets up shop in the present (Bishop, Cable, Rachel Grey etc). This does not take away from the importance of her position because without her, everyone would be in agreement in theory and there would be no story at all. Her thought processes move from being adamant about them returning, to having the younger guys make their own decision. As a teacher this is her duty to her students, which is something that Wolverine and Storm have forgotten. This is what prompts her departure from the school at the end, and it is a valid enough reason. Ultimately this becomes a complete moot point because the X-Men cannot actually return, for reasons unknown to probably Bendis himself. In any case it is a reasonable piece of character exposition, which is lost somewhat amongst all the fighting. The easiest way to succeed with this subplot was to have a focus on Jeanie and Kitty’s rapport throughout All New X-Men. Not only would this have brought validity to her argument as a teacher, but also a sentimental element to her close friend. There was an extremely irritating moment earlier in the crossover, where Kitty states, quite damningly in front of Magik, that she could not be trusted. However at the end of the book she hugs her, as she is welcomed into the Uncanny X-Men. This inconsistency lies between two of the more important characters of the arc and is frustrating. Now we come to Illyana Rasputin:



Illyana features rather fleetingly in this book throughout, but she plays the quasi-important role. She was the single X-Man that was clear from the beginning what was happening, because she had already been to the future to see it for herself. During the battles she takes young Beast and Iceman to the future, to bring back the true X-Men. Magik is even reunited with a future version of her brother, which brings her such joy as the younger sibling, only to have him taken away. There was even a moment where her darker side almost took over in battle, but that was far from explored properly. Her powerset was also instrumental numerous times in battle and she is a valued member of the Uncanny team. The first few pages of the entire arc is a letter from her to Scott, asking for forgiveness because she travelled to the future. This was also not developed upon and I cannot understand why she has not been utilised properly? Why not devote more time for dialogue for her and complete her character exposition, instead of having her back in the fold as the emotionless dark husk that is her status quo. We are only treated to snippets of the excellent character she has the potential to be.

Wolverine & Cyclops

Bickering Logan and WolvyI would not even be writing this paragraph if it were not for the epilogue that gave Wolverine the final word over Cyclops, regarding his role as a professor. Throughout the arc he played no role outside of being manipulated psionically and physically, and was far from pleased to be rescued by his nemesis. Logan and Scott bicker incessantly like children and the gall of Wolverine, of all people, to question Cyclops morality is ridiculous. It was almost as if there had to be animosity when the two teams combined, because it was that impossible Scott and Logan could fight together. It was artificial, poorly written and unnecessary. The ideological argument between these two characters was not the focus of the story and did not need to be so childishly borne out. In any case, nothing has changed.

Five deaths and overindulgence

As well as the unemotional deaths of future Piotr, Jean, Jubilee, Beast and Deadpool, we were only allowed two positive feelings throughout this book. There was a cheap and quick side plot of older Shogo (the baby Jube is carrying around in Wood’s X-Men) meeting his younger mother. It was nice and sweet but filled the emotional well by a little drop. The best part was this panel:

Young X-MenIt was excellent to see the younger guys bring out the purity of a working X-Men team. I wanted to see it and I was happy that it came, but unfortunately that did not unify the X-teams either or fulfil a greater purpose.

There was some terrible moments of indulgence that I would have loved to have seen, when I was twelve. We have already seen plenty of Wolverine children, but we have yet to see a Mystique one, does not mean there should be one. It also appears we have a crippled version of Xavier’s grandchild strolling in a yellow carrier of sorts, long live Xavier. Deadpool was a far from interesting addition to the cast, not that he lasted long which is not in keeping with his character. Phoenix Quire has a pointlessly humourless conversation with his Kid self. There were so many conversations between characters and their older/younger selves, which initially started as cute but became very irritating. There were even panels dedicated to them as they fought. By far my most disliked line of dialogue was on this panel. Marvel’s obsession with the moniker All New just has to stop.

All New Magneto

Unresolved plot holes

I say that with a hint of sarcasm, because there were hardly any resolved plot holes either.

  • Why can we not send the young X-Men back home? Now they have joined Scott surely Magik and just magic away this problem.
  • Will Jean turn into an angry Xorn monster?
  • With Wolverine permanently on homicide leave, who will actually run the school with Kitty gone?
  • Are we now on the hunt for the Brotherhood of evil mutants? How will Magneto resist the urge to join an evil Xavier, who is firmly on his side?
  • How will two Cyclops hide their adoration for young Jean?
  • Do we really have Storm’s teenage child joining the school? Will she not be incessantly teased?

For all these answers and many more, I can definitely wait. Did I ever mention to you that my all time favourite heroes are the X-Men?

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