Review by Paul Bowler
The Beast may have brought the original X-Men back with him to the present day to help reunite Mutantkind, but after the young Cyclops was nearly killed in a battle with the Sentinels, the modern day version of the X-Men decided to send the young mutants back to their own time. Now that she is aware of her tragic fate, the young Jean Grey is reluctant to go back. But when a team of X-Men from the future suddenly appear at the Jean Grey School, brining a dire warning of how the future will be destroyed if the original X-Men stay, young Jean causes a fight to distract everyone and goes on the run with Scott. As the X-Men prepare to give chase, the female Xorn removes her mask and is revealed as the adult Jean Grey from the future…
X-Men #5 is the first issue of Battle of the Atom that is not written by Brian Michael Bendis, it gives us some idea of how this crossover event is going to unfold over the various X-Titles, and Brian Wood does an excellent job of maintaining the pace and tone of the story. X-Men #5 picks up after the young Jean and Scott escaped in the Blackbird in All New X-Men #16, as both present and future generations of X-Men decide what to do next. We also learn that the adult Jean Grey can only manage without the Xorn helmet for a few minuets as her powers have grown so much.
Brian Wood’s manages to include some fun scenes, including one where the past, present, and future versions of the Beast remind themselves about the test jet they built: as they collectively reminisce about designing it, after building it in the present, and then remembering it fondly – before their super sleek aircraft (The Dove) rises up through the floor into the hanger bay.
After Professor Xavier’s grandson takes a Cerebro Spike, a special pill to help them track Jean’s psychic trail, Storm decides that Kitty, Rachel, and Jubilee will stay behind at the school with the young Bobby and Hank, while she leaves with the others in the Dove to search for Jean and Scott. This leads to a great moment between Kitty and Rachel, as they talk about the Jean Grey from the future and their concerns about making the original X-Men to return to their own time against their wishes. Kitty in particular has grown very close to them and Rachel believes that the young X-Men should be allowed to decide for themselves if they go back.
Having found the abandoned Blackbird the X-Men continue to scan for the mutant runaways. They soon locate them, tearing along the Pacific Coast Highway on a motorbike after Jean lowers her psychic shields and reaches out telepathically to someone for help. The X-Men catch up with them on the highway, Scott tries to evade them, but Deadpool takes out the bikes tyres. Fortunately Kitty and Rachel arrive in a small craft and get the X-Men teams to back off, with Kitty confronting Storm and Rachel berating the future Jean Grey. While the X-Men argue Jean and Scott slip away in Kitty and Rachel’s craft and travel to Utopia for a meeting with another team of mutants…
The scenes where Jean and Scott are on the run are the real highlight of X-Men #5, especially when they steal some clothes from a washing line and get changed. It’s a wonderfully goofy and awkward moment for them, as it goes hilariously wrong. However, their conversation as they escape along the highway on the motorbike brings their relationship sharply into focus, when Scott admits he would do anything for her, but unfortunately Jean has no time to respond before the X-Men arrive in force to bring them in.
Overall this is a good issue, X-Men #5 provides Brian Wood’s with the some good character moments for his regular cast, particularly between Kitty and Rachel at the school, and a funny scene were Jubilee leaves Bobby and Hank to look after baby Shogo. This issues tie-in does interrupt Wood’s main X-Men storyline in favour of the Battle of the Atom crossover, with the focus firmly placed on Jean and Scott’s developing relationship. The art by David Lopez, together with Cam Smith’s inks and Lara Martin’s colors, is also good, and I really like the cover by Arthur Adams.
While it may not be indicative of Wood’s series as whole, X-Men #5 is still a good issue, and effectively slots into this big X-Men crossover event. Battle of the Atom is shaping up to be a really action packed story, with some great interaction between the characters, with tensions fraying between the teams as Scott and Jean make their way to Utopia.