X-Men #6 (Battle of the Atom – Chapter 7)
Writer: Brian Wood
Penciler: David Lopez
Inkers: Cam Smith w/ Terry Pallot
Colorists: Laura Martin w/ Matt Milla
Review by Joey Braccino
Unlike other comics events that feature a core mini-series and a slew of tie-in issues that co-opt the related ongoings, the X-Men: Battle of the Atom crossover runs through the four primary X-books, taking over a different issue each week. The challenge then is maintaining the spirit and feel of that core X-book while still progressing the larger crossover narrative. So far, the biggest flaw in the first half of Battle of the Atom was its insistence of recapping and rehashing plot-points and character beats across the four books. It was almost as though the writers were preoccupied with introducing their book than moving the narrative forward.
Now that we’re in the second half of the story, however, the mystery surrounding all the time-displaced bands of X-Men has ramped up significantly. And, for the first time since the crossover began, Brian Wood’s X-men #6 feels like Brian Wood’s X-Men, so much so that I thought I was reading just another issue of Wood’s lady-centric X-run for the first few pages!
Perhaps because of Wood’s involvement, Jubilee takes center-stage for the majority of this issue. From some quippy humor with Shogo to the abundance of action, Jubilee takes on a much larger role in the overall Battle of the Atom story than we might have originally assumed. The Future X-Men reveal their true intentions, Psylocke kicks some serious behind, and, generally, chaos ensues. Out of all the chapter so far, X-Men #6 packs the most story. Between the tight characterization, concise action-sequences, and multiple parties at play, Wood manages to cram in a lot of material into his 22 pages.
David Lopez’ naturalism is, for all intents and purposes, perfect. It is simple, sure, but it also allows for clear, concise storytelling. The realism in the figurework emphasizes facial expression and body language in a way that more stylized aesthetics cannot. Cam Smith and Terry Pallot’s inks accentuate Lopez’ fine linework, while Laura Martin and Matt Milla’s vibrant palette stays within the natural lighting of Lopez’ realistic style.
Must-read for Battle of the Atom readers and X-Men fans! Brian Wood delivers on both fronts, progressing the crossover while also furthering the character arcs of his primary cast. Battle of the Atom is really picking up steam in its final stretch, especially now that all that wonky time travel business has leveled out.