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X-Men: Battle of the Atom

What You Need To Know

By Joey Braccino

50 years of X-Men!

50 years of X-Men!

Let’s play catch up, shall we? Just because some of us here at Talking Comics have been religiously following the X-Universe for anywhere from at least a year to probably the entirety of its 50-year history (re: Bob), that doesn’t mean the upcoming X-Men: Battle of the Atom crossover should exclude new and interested readers.

Just a few nuts and bolts pointers regarding X-Men crossovers and the larger Marvel U at the moment:

  • X-Men crossovers ship fast. Unlike most monthly event mini-series, X-Men crossovers essentially take over the normal ongoing series in the line, allowing for a weekly shipping schedule. In other words, while those mainstream hero worshippers wait months for the next chapter of Infinity or Hunger, we X-fans get our next chapter next week. Huzzah!

 

  • The X-Men were decimated and then “Hope” showed up but then they schismed and now they’re even more disparate and at odds with each other and everyone else in the universe. Sure, life has never been easy for our merry band of mutants, but even with an Avengers Unity Squad running around in Uncanny Avengers and a seeming resurgence of the mutant gene post M-Day, the X-Men still can’t seem to catch a break. With a new Hellfire Club putting up sentinels all around the world, Cyclops and his crew on the lam from SHIELD, and mutant sympathy at an all-time low after the Phoenix incident in Avengers Vs. X-Men, it certainly seems like the time is ripe for the strangest heroes of them all to band together and fight the foes no single hero can withstand.

 

  • Since Marvel NOW!, the split between Wolverine’s crew and Cyclops’ crew has gotten even worse. A few years ago, Wolverine and Cyclops disagreed over the future of mutantkind: Wolverine, despite (or perhaps because of) his violent past, wanted to rebuild the school and teach the next generation of mutants the old Xavier line of tolerating those that feared and hated them; Cyclops, on the other hand, pursued a more militant approach—protect and defend our dwindling kind from extinction at any cost. After the Phoenix incident drove Cyclops to do some pretty crazy things, Wolverine’s resolve to keep the school up and running strengthened and Cyclops ended up breaking out of prison and starting a renegade group of X-Men determined to protect and defend the burgeoning mutant population. Why can’t they just get along!?

 

  • Days of Future Past is like a big flipping deal right now. Time-travel is superhot, especially considering DoFP‘s status as the inspiration for the next big X-movie. While it remains to be seen just how involved this classic timeline will be in the upcoming crossover, it has been mentioned time and time again in interviews and previews of the story!

Here’s a quick run-down of the four books that will be featured in the two month, rapid-fire crossover:

Old School meets New School at the New School!

Old School meets New School at the New School!

All-New X-Men

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis Artists: Stuart Immonen, David Marquez (with a fantastic one-and-done from David LaFuente as well!)

One of the premier Marvel NOW! books, All-New X-Men takes place primarily at Wolverine’s Jean Grey School for mutants. Unlike the soon-to-be-detailed Wolverine & The X-Men, this comic focuses on the original five X-Men (Cyclops, Iceman, Beast, Angel, and Marvel Girl, aka Jean Grey). Now, I don’t mean “back in the ‘60s” Original X-Men, I mean the “present day Beast was so upset with how present day Scott Summers turned out so he went back in time and took the teenage mutants to the present” Original X-Men. Yeah, it’s sort of confusing, but it’s Marvel, so it’s sort of not.

Anyway, aside from the obvious coming-of-age conflict the original X-Men are enduring in the present day, the team has also been butting heads with an increasingly ambitious Mystique and her right-hand man, Sabretooth. Fun times.

From the solicits, it would appear that Battle of the Atom focuses on Wolverine’s decision to at least try to return the Original X-men back to their original timeline. Those pesky kids—if only they hadn’t showed up in the first place…

Primary Players:

Wolverine, Kitty Pryde, the Original X-Men (especially Jean Grey and Cyclops), Beast

Primary Villains:

Mystique, Sabretooth, Lady Mastermind, themselves

#cyclopswasright

#cyclopswasright

Uncanny X-Men

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis Artists: Chris Bachalo, Frazer Irving

Uncanny X-Men is intended to be the inverse of All-New X-Men. Released a few months after All-New, Uncanny shifted direction away from Wolverine and the Jean Grey School and onto a newly broken-out Cyclops and his newly establish Xavier School. Cyclops, along with Magneto, Magik, and Emma Frost, establish the school to train and, in essence, militarize new mutants that they save from persecution and harm when their powers manifest. Stand-outs on the team include Gold Balls (the master of the POINK! gold ball attack) and Tempus (a mutant who can create time spheres that freeze anyone in the sphere in time).

Complicating matters is the fact that the Phoenix force has somehow hampered with Cyclops, Emma, and Magneto’s powers, significantly weakening them and/or damaging their powers entirely. So as they begin to train these new recruits, they must also retrain and refocus themselves.

Oh, and SHIELD is all over Cyclops and wants him back in prison. And Magneto is like a triple-double-triple agent. Oh, and SHIELD did assign Dazzler as a mutant liason, but then Mystique dropped in and, well, we all know how Mystique stories usually go…

And the original Angel, from that team that got time-displaced over in All-New, yeah he left the Jean Grey School to join the Xavier group. #Drama

And one time they beat the Avengers on live TV. #SUPERDRAMA

Primary players:

Cyclops, Emma Frost, Magik, Magneto, the Xavier School students, Stepford Cuckoos, Original Angel

Primary “villains:

Agent Maria Hill and SHIELD, mysterious Sentinels, the Avengers, Mystique

#CyclopsWasFrikkinRight

#CyclopsWasFrikkinRight

Wolverine & The X-Men

Writer: Jason Aaron Artists: Nick Bradshaw, Chris Bachalo, David Lopez, etc.

Wolverine & The X-Men came out of an X-mini-event from 2011 called Schism, which saw the initial division between Cyclops and Wolverine actually manifest in two separate teams. It was in this book’s debut that the Jean Grey School was first establish and introduced and, until Uncanny and All-New were relaunched with Marvel NOW!, many saw Wolverine & The X-Men as the flagship title for a short while. Since recovering from the AvX crossover, W&tXM has focused on telling stranger, brighter, more back-wall stories with our merry mutants—actually bringing the “strangest heroes” back to the X-Universe in more ways than one.

Recently, Wolverine and his students have been engaged in an embittered rivalry with a new Hellfire Club run by the ruthless pre-teen, Kade Kilgore. The “Hellfire Saga” that just wrapped in the series provided a spectacular resolution to this storyline and set the title up nicely for the upcoming crossover.

Primary players:

Wolverine, Kitty Pryde, Ice Man, Quentin Quire, Idie Okonkwo, Broo, Toad, Doop, Krakoa

Primary villains:

Kade Kilgore and the Hellfire Academy, Sentinels, Dog Logan, Mystique, Frankenstein’s Monster

Still one of the best covers of the year. So hardcore.

Still one of the best covers of the year. So hardcore.

X-Men

Writer: Brian Wood Artist: Olivier Coipel

The “youngest” title in the crossover, Brian Wood’s X-Men has only just hit issue #4 before jumping head-first into the 50th-anniversary crossover of the X-Universe.

Wood’s X-Men title has garnered critical acclaim for its spot-on characterization and return to the more operatic, family driven storytelling of the Claremont X-years. While still blending hard sci-fi and interpersonal drama, what sets Wood’s X-Men apart is its core cast comprised nearly entirely of women. The team explored is made up of the A-list female X-Men members as well as a baby adopted by the vampiric Jubilee.

It’ll be interesting to see how Wood’s X-Men holds up after the crossover, given the fact that it’s barely had enough time to establish itself on its own.

Primary Players: Storm, Psylocke, Rachel Grey, Rogue, Kitty Pryde, Jubilee, and Shogo

Primary Villains: Sublime (?) and his techno-leech sister, Arkea

***

Even without the upcoming crossover, these four X-books have been firing on all cylinders for the last few months. My hope is that the books can maintain (and perhaps gain) momentum during and after the crossover, and that the books survive the event in the first place! (RIP X-Factor)

Simpler times...

Simpler times…

And here’s that rapid shipping schedule that X-Crossovers are known for:

  1. X-Men: Battle of the Atom #1, Brian Bendis and Frank Cho (9/04)
  2. All-New X-Men #16, Brian Bendis and Stuart Immonen (9/04)
  3. X-Men #5, Brian Wood and David Lopez (9/16)
  4. Uncanny X-Men #12, Brian Bendis and Chris Bachalo (9/23)
  5. Wolverine and the X-Men #36, Jason Aaron and Giuseppe Camuncoli (9/30)
  6. All-New X-Men #17 (10/02)
  7. X-Men #6 (10/09)
  8. Uncanny X-Men #13 (10/16)
  9. Wolverine and the X-Men #37 (10/23)
  10. X-Men: Battle of the Atom #2 (10/30)

So pick up X-Men: Battle of the Atom #1 and All-New X-Men #16 today and join in on the fun!!!

Excelsior! #CYCLOPSWASRIGHT

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