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Battle of the Atom #2

Review by Paul Bowler

XMen Battle of the Atom #2 Cover

The Brotherhood from the future arrived in the present-day and convinced everyone they were the X-Men of the future. They conspired to get the modern-day X-Men to force the original X-Men to return to the past. Although the young X-Men disagreed, Wolverine and most of the X-Men at the Jean Grey School agreed. However, the scheme was foiled when the real future X-Men appeared, and the Brotherhood’s attempt to use the Time Cube to send the original X-Men home hit a snag, when they found it was impossible to send them back. Now the X-Men of the past, present, and future stand united against the Brotherhood, but when a fleet of S.H.I.E.L.D Helicarriers suddenly arrive Xorn and Xavier take control of their weapon systems and launches their missiles at the X-Men…

Faced with an onslaught of missiles launched by the S.H.I.E.L.D helleicarriers, all of the X-Men teams’ work together to fend off the attack, using every ounce of their combined powers to fight back as the Brotherhood version of the Beast urges them to all to join forces with them. But when he is suddenly cut down by blaster fire from some new arrivals – a group of Sentinels that have secretly been constructed by S.H.I.E.L.D – all hell breaks loose and the present day X-Men and future X-Men find themselves fighting a battle on two fronts. The battle is furious, casualties are high, and as the Brotherhood face defeat Jean “Xorn” Grey confronts Cyclops and Wolverine, blaming the Schism they caused that divided the X-Men for subverting the natural order of time, before fighting the original X-Men until her powers finally overload and she explodes!

By the time Mira Hill arrives at the battlefield the Brotherhood has escaped and the X-Men have teleported back to the Jean Grey School. As they mourn their dead the X-Men must also form a response to S.H.I.E.L.D deploying Sentinels against them. Despite everything that has happened, Wolverine and Cyclops are still unable to settle their differences, and their teams remain divided as the future X-Men prepare to return to their own time – though not everyone is going back to the future as Kymera opts to stay and hunt down the Brotherhood.

Heartfelt goodbyes are said before the future X-Men uses the Time Cube to leave, with the future Iceman imparting some words of wisdom to his present day self as they depart. Afterwards the X-Men gather outside the School where Kitty Pryde announces that she is leaving. Kitty explains she can no longer trust them after the way they acted during Battle of the Atom, saying they let her and the original X-Men down when they needed them most. The original X-Men have also decided to leave with Kitty, not wishing to stay where they are not really wanted. Wolverine and  the X-Men are shocked when Cyclops and Magik teleport in to collect Professor Kitty and her students as they set off to join the Uncanny X-Men at the new Xavier School…

Battle of the Atom #2 Preview 1

Battle of the Atom #2 brings this 50th anniversary crossover event for the X-Men to a close, with Jason Aaron tasked with wrapping everything up, with Brian Michael Bendis writing one of the issues four epilogues. After last issues terrific cliff-hanger Battle of the Atom #2 picks up the pace with a huge battle as the various teams of X-Men square off against the Brotherhood. The arrival of S.H.I.E.L.D’s secret supply of Sentinels is not an altogether unexpected twist; however, this is sure to have a significant impact on human-mutant relations in the future.

The climatic battle includes some brilliant action sequences, there are casualties, and I especially liked the part where the original X-Men took on Xorn. There was also a great showdown between Xorn and Phoenix Quentin Quire, where Jean taunts him about how the Phoenix force still whispers her name. While the battle does reach an explosive end, it all seems a little abrupt; giving way to a series of epilogues that shifts the emphasis towards setting up a plethora of future storylines – especially with the Brotherhood still at large.

This somewhat uneven approach to Battle of the Atom #2 is also reflected in the artwork as well, as the main storyline has art by Esad Ribic and Giuseppe Camuncoli, with Andrew Currie and Tom Palmer on finishes. The four epilogues bring more by Camuncoli and Currie, along with Kris Anka, Chris Bachalo, and Stuart Immonen. Sadly the end result is not all that good; it all feels a little cobbled together, and not a patch on previous instalments.

While Kitty’s decision to leave, followed by the original X-Men, in the final Epilogue by Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen was a big surprise, I was a little uncomfortable about how smug Cyclops seemed when he arrived with Magik to collect them – it seemed a little out of character. Epilogue two by Brian Wood, on the other hand, contains one of my favourite scenes of this entire crossover, as the adult Shogo prepares to say goodbye to Jubilee. It’s a brilliant moment for the characters, and I thought it was the real highlight of the issue.

On the whole I have thoroughly enjoyed Battle of the Atom. I like how the story developed through each of the X-Titles involved in the crossover, there were some issues with constant recaps, but for the most part the story held together quiet well. Its just a shame that more time and care wasn’t put into making Battle of the Atom #2 more of an epic finale, rather than the last minute dash to the finish line that it turned out to be.