Writer – Brian Wood
Artist – David Lopez
Inker – Cam Smith
Colorist – Laura Martin
Review by Joey Braccino
X-Men: Battle of the Atom – Chapter 3
The Battle of the Atom rolls on with X-Men #5. After last week’s double-dose of Brian Michael Bendis, Brian Wood takes over the crossover reigns for the latest chapter in this mutant mega-story. So far, Battle of the Atom has been deliberately paced and character-driven. Nothing wrong with that, especially when we’ve got the deft pen of Brian Wood doing the pacing and character driving.
The future X-Men have arrived in the present to force our X-Men to send the Original X-Men back to their original time. Yeah, the premise might be a bit confusing, but the characterization and the conflict are not. Battle of the Atom is slowly becoming a story about choices and destiny—a theme perfect for the mutant side of the Marvel U. Since its inception, X-Men has been as much about the “hated-and-feared” side of superheroics as it has been about teenagers coming-of-age. By bringing the original X-Men into the present and by reconstructing the school for gifted youngsters concept, the braintrust behind the X-Universe has expertly set up all of the X-titles for this bildungsroman of a crossover.
Young Cyclops and Jean Grey are on the run from the combined forces of the Future X-Men and Wolverine’s Jean Grey School staff. For X-Men #5, Brian Wood is allowed to focus much of his attention on Storm, Rachel Grey, and Kitty Pryde. There are also some wonderful Jubilee beats this issue (and Shogo!), but sadly no Psylocke. By focusing on his core cast, Wood maintains the tone of his title and lends the actions taken by his characters extra weight. There is no doubt that Kitty and Rachel’s decisions in this issue (no spoilers!) will have ramifications for their relationship with their defacto leader, Storm, and the Jean Grey School at large.
Following Frank Cho and Stuart Immonen, however, David Lopez’ naturalism falls a little flat. Add in a few awkward facial expressions and we’ve got a lackluster visual experience for this third chapter. Laura Martin brings some of her exquisitely rich color palette to the table, lending the book a lot of necessary panache, but the linework leaves a lot to be desired.
Another great entry in both Brian Wood’s X-Men series and the X-Men: Battle of the Atom crossover. Some might be turned off by the deliberate pacing, but I actually enjoy the rapid shipping schedule and legitimate “crossover” feel between the four series. The decompressed story allows for a more character-driven experience without the need for tie-ins or one-shots. Also, I find it interested that the crossover has gone three issues without revealing any major supervillain or cabal behind the scenes. Sure we have the Sentinels, but it all makes me wonder about these Future X-Men and their real motivations…