The most anticipated spectacle in comics starts here.
Let’s just say it: The decision to bring back the original X-Men after AvX was ridiculous. Even more ridiculous is the idea that their title would be an ongoing. So many questions came to mind. How could the writer and editors possibly maintain a continuity where two versions of the same character from the same timeline exist at the same time? Would whatever resolution that Marvel superstar writer, Brian Michael Bendis, comes up with be satisfying? What kind of lasting consequences could a story like this have? Is the premise too gimmicky to sustain a series month after month?
Without ruining too much of what happens, this issue touches upon the real consequences of the presence of the early X-Men in present day. In keeping with the message of Marvel’s other event, Age of Ultron, we see that time travel indeed has consequences. What’s amazing about Bendis is that his stories never really settle into a status quo. There’s never a dull moment, never a wasted scene. In other words, you never feel like you’re being fed filler.
This dynamic is multiplied in X-Men: Battle of the Atom #1. The pacing of the story is crazy. Bendis seamlessly flicks from a story about a small group of young familiar friends at school to life-or-death action on a massive scale then back again. Something is always happening, and new elements are constantly being introduced. In a way, reading Battle of the Atom is very similar to watching Marvel’s The Avengers for the first time: familiar characters casually entering each other’s worlds, introducing their own agendas.
I have to say that the X-books continue to be among my favorite books each week. I know that when I pick up All-New or Uncanny X-Men, I’m going to be treated to amazing art, great dialogue, and mind-blowing stories. While the titles have shared a bit of overlap since the launch of Uncanny X-Men, the stories have always had their own voices, problems, and characters, and the sporadic appearances of the various different characters in other books has only served to build the complexities of the world of our favorite mutants.
And the art! What can be said about Frank Cho’s art that hasn’t already been said before? Gorgeous, dynamic, complex, and iconic; the interiors of this issue are a match for the story, and that’s saying something. The only detractor is that some of the images are very similar to others done by Stuart Immonen in the regular All-New X-Men ongoing.
This could be because Bendis looks to be making an effort to return to the early era X-Men motifs. Our X-Men (the very same ones) are out to find new mutants when they’re ambushed by Sentinels. The banter is even similar to Stan Lee’s. Bendis is going back to the roots of what made the X-Men so great in the first place and is doing it in his own way.
I can’t wait for the rest of the series. It’s going to be great.
Brian Michael Bendis (W), Frank Cho (A) • Marvel Comics, $3.99, September 4, 2013.