Uncanny X-Men #13 (Battle of the Atom – Chapter 8)
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Chris Bachalo
Inkers: Tim Townsend, Al Vey, Mark Irwin, Jaime Mendoza, & Victor Olazaba
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Review by Joey Braccino
We’re in the homestretch here for the X-Men: Battle of the Atom crossover. All of the time-traveling parties are in play—the Original Five X-Men are being rounded up by the Future FauX-Men while the Uncanny X-Men rush in to help Wolverine’s X-Men School with the aid of the Future Real X-Men. In Uncanny X-Men #13, the battle for the Original X-Men kickstarts with some high-octane action and a brutal body count.
Aside from an initial page littered with exposition and recapping (the crossover’s one major flaw since the beginning), Brian Michael Bendis wisely lets Chris Bachalo play with layouts and sequencing as the various mutants battle other various mutants. There are several excellent character beats throughout, including a Future Colossus/Magik team-up that runs the length of the issue. The final sequence in this issue raises several questions about the nature of time-travel in the Marvel Universe (which, given recent comments from Bendis and EIC Axel Alonso, might connect to the future of the line…) and promises slobberknocker of a resolution to the crossover over the next two issues.
Chris Bachalo brings the noise this issue, barreling us through several brawls between some superpowered mutants. Bachalo’s dynamic style lends itself to the sort of kinetic back-and-forth that Bendis’ action-packed script calls for, and he tones down his normally cluttered panel lay-outs for a more cinematic feel. His Krakoa is simply stunning. Marte Gracia’s vibrant colors further the dynamism of the aesthetic. If there is a negative aspect to the artwork this issue, however, it is the five-person ink-team. The changeover between various inkers is incredibly apparent, jumping from one inker’s distinct stippling to another’s scratchy linework. It’s a distracting element of what is otherwise a visually engaging experience.
Check it out! Despite a few hiccups in the artwork, Uncanny X-Men #13 takes the Battle of the Atom crossover to new heights in terms of action and characterization. The stakes escalate nicely as the various factions of X-Men circle each other. After this chapter, the X-Universe braintrust has certainly set up what promises to be an exciting final two issues! Also, #cyclopswasright.