X-Men: Battle of the Atom #2 (Battle of the Atom – Chapter 10)
Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Esad Ribic w/ Giuseppe Camuncoli (Pencils) & Andrew Currie and Tom Palmer (Finishes)
Colorists: Ive Svorcina w/ Andres Mossa & Guru eFX
Review by Joey Braccino
The last few issues of the Battle of the Atom crossover have maneuvered our various factions of time-displaced and/or previously-schismed mutants into an all-out slobberknocker brawl at Cape Citadel. At the end of last issue, the future Brotherhood further complicated the situation by telekinetically forcing SHIELD Helicarriers to fire on the X-Men. X-men: Battle of the Atom #2 picks up just as the missiles rain down on the collection of mutants, and what follows is a non-stop action sequence that climaxes in a scene reminiscent of 1963’s X-Men #1.
Sounds exciting, right? And on paper, it really should be. There have been so many mutants dropping in and out of this book as the result of time-travel and flashforwards and schisms that to finally see the lines drawn and alliances forged or broken over the course of several back-to-back well-developed action scenes should be a welcome climax to the crossover.
Unfortunately, practically everything is wrong with this book from cover to cover. Bummer.
First of all, the cover says BENDIS – CHO – GRACIA. As evident from the laundry list of creators at the head of this interview, Brian Bendis does not write this book, Frank Cho does not illustrate this book, and Marte Gracia does not color this book. Instead, Jason Aaron produces a script that does indeed feature his trademark characterization and keen pacing, which actually proves to be this issue’s one strong feature. Nevertheless, the coherence of his script is significantly undercut by lackluster, rushed artwork by a panoply of artists. Normally, I’m a huge fan of Esad Ribic and Giuseppe Camuncoli’s artistic styles, but when Ribic is rushed and Camuncoli fills in at random points in the issue, the blend is simply atrocious. The opening spread, though cinematically framed, features poor linework, repetitive figurework, and vague backgrounds. When Camuncoli does fill in, the change is abrupt, particularly in the inking, which shifts from fine and subtle to thick and abrasive. A dismal visual experience, from the substitution away from Frank Cho, to the disappointing output of two otherwise talented artists.
There are a series of epilogues by each of the participating series’ main creative teams. The epilogues fare much better in terms of artwork and storytelling, though there are some off-character moments (especially in the final resolution to the story) that will surely have some long-time readers questioning exactly what is going on with the meta-conflicts in these books. I won’t go into spoilers here, as the epilogues do bleed into what will be happening in each of the main books going forward, but out of an otherwise abysmal issue, these four short vignettes at least come close to the same quality of the preceding issues in this series.
For completion’s sake, I suppose you need to read X-Men: Battle of the Atom #2 if you’ve been reading the crossover regularly. Otherwise, skip this book and tell others to skip it as well. There are some promising threads that will continue in the X-books going forward, but on a technical level, this issue is unbearably out-of-sync with the quality and storytelling in the rest of the X-stable of comics.