As a self-proclaimed X-Men fanboy, I buy every X-Men family book that comes out each month that doesn’t have “Wolverine” in the title (and also one that does). So I was excited for this year’s big summer crossover (especially since I buy all the books it takes place in anyway). But, well, the X-Men: Battle of the Atom event has had high points and lows, and the event finale is unfortunately the lowest of them all. Beware, this X-Men Battle of the Atom #2 review will be rife with spoilers–but maybe after you read it, you won’t want to bother reading the book anyway…
As is so often the case with stories involving alternate reality/time-displaced versions of popular characters, the finale to X-Men: Battle of the Atom #2 includes plenty of meaningless, unmemorable deaths. Such exciting characters as future Beast and future Colossus die in one panel apiece, but the artwork is so cluttered and the battles so poorly depicted that while I can tell you who killed each character, I haven’t the foggiest idea of how.
Near as I can tell, evil future Xavier grandson uses his mind to make Colossus’ innards melt… or something. And future Beast got shot with a thin laser from a Sentinel and then, uh… blew up in a humongous explosion? Or maybe he was stepped on by a Sentinel…? I’m not really sure. I’m not trying to be funny here–I honestly have no clue what happened in the “action” throughout this battle.
The worst death is that of future Jean Grey/Xorn, who supposedly was disintegrated by a self-induced power surge, yet the moment is depicted as her just sort of looking like her body is spazzing out. But hey, there’s a piece of broken Xorn mask shown on the next page, so future Jean must be dead… right?
Of course, we might be better off if all the future X-Men (and ex-X-Men) had died. For a story so concerned with time-travelers mucking up the time stream, there’s sure a lot of future characters who end up hanging out in the present day Marvel Universe! The whole surviving Brotherhood (and even one of the non-evil future X-Men!) are apparently all going to be making their home in the current 616 universe now. Goodie.
About the only aspect of this story arc that I genuinely loved was seeing the relationship between grown-up baby Shogo and his mother, future Jubilee. Of course, it’s a moot point, because–you guessed it–future Jubilee is randomly killed by a Sentinel. Man, those Sentinels are a whole lot better than they used to be, aren’t they?
The story ends with four epilogues, all of which feel rushed and incomplete–which is hardly how any story that took ten comic books (and close to $40) to tell ought to end. There’s some fun to be had earlier in this crossover, but if you’re waiting for the trade paperback to read this story–don’t. You’re better off using your cash to buy pretty any X-Men story that came out this year other than this one.
Overall: “X-Men: Battle of the Atom” #2 is bad enough that it almost made me forget all the positive portions of the crossover. Characters show up and disappear with no explanation, X-Men change allegiances completely unexpectedly (not to mention illogically), and by the end of the story I had no clue what characters were still alive, dead, on a different side, gone back to the future, or hiding in the past. And moreover, I just didn’t care. Somehow the sum of the parts in this story bringing together four titles that are all usually very good ended up being far weaker than any individual one of the titles usually is. I can’t wait until regular stories resume in all the main X-Men comic books, because every one of those books alone is better than this crossover turned out to be.