Uncanny X-Men #12 (Battle of the Atom Chapter 4)
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Chris Bachalo
Inkers: Tim Townsend, Mark Irwin, Jaime Mendoza, Victor Olazaba, & Al Vey
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Review by Joey Braccino
Three weeks into Battle of the Atom and we’ve hit the fourth chapter in the time-warped crossover and the third issue penned by Brian Michael Bendis. The verdict? The wheels are starting to spin… and not in a good way. Uncanny X-Men #12 provides little forward momentum aside from (re)introducing the members of Cyclops’ mutant revolution team and reiterating the whole Future-X-Men-want-to-send-the-Original-X-Men-Back-Or-DYSTOPIA plotline.
That isn’t to say that Bendis doesn’t bring the deft humor and characterization (#AgentDazzler) that define his current run on the X-books, all I mean is that the conflict doesn’t really move anywhere this issue. I can understand why; since this is the first act, I suppose the creative teams assume they’ve got to catch up new readers to the specific book housing the latest chapter. Uncanny X-Men has a cast of all-new mutants, so readers picking up this issue to continue Battle of the Atom must first be introduced to Christopher the Healer and Eva Bell the Time Bubbler and that kid who now goes by Gold Balls. It’s cool–I can dig it, but I feel like we’re still waiting for something to happen, something to be revealed, or some clear statement-of-purpose (villainous purpose perhaps?) on the part of these Future X-Men.
I’m a big fan of Chris Bachalo’s work. It’s dynamic, it’s frenetic, it’s creative. And his Kitty Pryde is just so darn expressive! Two things though: one, I don’t think he was told what Beast is supposed to look like now; two, why does he have five inkers? I could understand the need for two—one to fill out his lines and another to do that neat stippling effect that really makes those Bachalo books pop—but five!? For one page, the think lines look like something out of a Howard Chaykin comic. Marte Gracia’s colors are a saving grace; rich and vibrant, Gracia’s work fills out Bachalo’s dynamic lines well.
I’d say skip, but you really can’t when it comes to these X-Crossovers. Instead, I’ll say this: read it, bag it, keep it for the completionist in you, and wait eagerly for Jason Aaron’s turn at the helm next chapter (Wolverine & The X-Men #36).