The GeeksverseFrom the Fan’s Desk | X-Men: Battle of the Ato… *yawn*

From the Fan’s Desk | X-Men: Battle of the Ato… *yawn*
Published on Saturday, November 2, 2013 by
The latest big X-Men event, Battle of the Atom, has just ended and well… can we just get Chris Claremont back? [NOTE: Spoiler warnings apply]

“Battle of the Atom” is an ongoing 10-part comic bookcrossover storyline published by Marvel Comics that debuted in September 2013 and will run through multiple X-Men books.

The story involves the X-Men of the future traveling to present time in order to force the All-New X-Men to return to their rightful time, as their presence in the current timeline will result in disastrous consequences.

- From the Battle of the Atom Wikipedia article

Battle of the Atom left me wishing for the old days of X-Men event cross-overs. Mutant Massacre, Fall of the Mutants, X-Tinction Agenda, Muir Island Saga… those were events. Those had seemingly lasting consequences. And more importantly, those were actually good.


Battle of the Atom #1 variant cover art by Frank Cho

I like much of what I’ve read of the prior work of all the writers involved in this cross-over—Brian Michael Bendis, Jason Aaron, and Brian Wood—but for the most part it didn’t feel like the Battle of the Atom comics were written by them, or at the very least, it didn’t feel like they put in their best efforts. Maybe my feelings about the quality of the story and dialogue stem from the fact that Battle of the Atom revolves around the time-displaced original X-Men of the All-New X-Men title, whom I just do not like. Don’t get me wrong, I like the original X-Men, but I don’t like the idea of having them traveling to our present and adventuring in the current time period. But, if done right, this event could have still been something I could have gotten behind.

One of the biggest problems is that there’s just too much time travel. Didn’t we just have a big event, Age of Ultron, that basically ripped the Marvel Universe timestream to shreds and made time travel too risky? And yet, here we have Marvel’s merry mutants jumping back and forth in time over and over again with seemingly no penalties and little regard for the consequences for themselves and the space-time continuum, and now we have multiple people from the future stranded in the present-day. Didn’t Bendis write Age of Ultron? Are we already forgetting what the results of that event were?


Kymera with her panther familiar.

Time travel and the X-Men have always gone together. There are plenty of X-team members that have come from the future—characters like Rachel Grey (the former Rachel Summers), Cable, Bishop, Shard—so having more future-folk appear is nothing new, but this event took it to extremes. We now have a group of future former X-Men turned bad, the Brotherhood, running around and this includes Charles Xavier II, grandson of Professor Xavier, and Raze Logan, the son of Wolverine and Mystique. And oh yeah, we also have the daughter of Storm and the Black Panther, Kymera [kewl spelling!—ed.], a member of the future X-Men who volunteers to stay behind to help the present-day X-Men track down the members of the Brotherhood. And the X-Men being okay with Kymera staying behind really doesn’t make sense to me. The whole event began with Wolverine and his team of X-Men based at the Jean Grey School of Higher Learning looking to send the time-displaced original X-Men back to their era—which led to Kitty leaving (I’ll get to that in a second)—but they’re okay with allowing Kymera to stay? How does that make sense? No wonder Kitty left, they’re a bunch of hypocrites.

Speaking of Kitty and her decision to leave and join up with Cyclops’ New Charles Xavier School for Mutants… that makes just as little sense as her decision to leave the Jean Grey School. Her reasoning doesn’t work because I can’t recall her stated reason for leaving the Jean Grey School—that the school failed her or some such—being shown happening in the lead-up to Battle of the Atom. It’s extremely forced and comes out of nowhere. It’s hard to even understand where she is coming from.


As for the introduction of yet another dystopian future—how many bleak and dark alternate futures have we seen for the X-Men? I think we’re up to twenty now. There’s the granddaddy of them all, the future from the Days of Future Past timeline (set in 2013 in the original storyline penned in 1980!) where Rachel Grey originally came from, there’s Bishop’s timeline, there’s Cable’s timeline, there’s the one just now being shown in Uncanny Avengers, and a whole bunch of others. None of them turn out well for the mutants. We never get to see any potential futures where mutants and humans co-exist in peace. When do you say enough is enough? All Battle of the Atom proves is that the X-Men’s methods for improving mutant-human relations don’t work. The X-Men need to find a better way to accomplish their goal, and the X-Men writers, frankly, need to find some new stories to tell.

It’s all really just a lot of talk and empty action, but no results, with this event.


The Brotherhood: (From left to right): Charles Xavier II, Raze Logan (disguised as Kitty Pryde), Deadpool, Beast (crouching, front row), Jean Grey (wearing the Xorn mask), Ice Thing (standing, back row), Molly Hayes

The Brotherhood should have known that going into the past wouldn’t change the future and the X-Men should have known that the Brotherhood’s future doesn’t matter because as we’ve seen in prior X-Men stories, traveling back in time to change the future just generates more alternate, dystopian timelines instead of changing the future for the better. This is a world in which Rachel Grey, Cable, and Bishop exist. Why should anyone care about this new alternate future when there are so many to already worry about? [The biggest problem with how Battle of the Atom handles time travel is that it’s been established that the Marvel Universe operates under the “Type 3″ rule of science-fiction time travel (which is how you can have Rachel, Cable, and Bishop coming from different “branches” of the future), but the writers have time-travelers from the future acting as if only one timeline exists and that they can directly affect this timeline (instead of creating a new branch of the timeline) by changing the past, i.e., as if the Marvel Universe operates under the “Type 2″ time-travel rule, a.k.a. the Doctor Who/Back to the Future rule—ed.]

The last chapter, Battle of the Atom #2, was full of merely serviceable and occasionally clashing art, seemingly rushed and mailed in by otherwise skilled artists (and what the heck was that with all the gaping mouths in the opening pages?), but it did have one thing going for it: It brought this useless crossover, that did nothing but muddle up the X-Men’s already confusing corner of the Marvel Universe, to a limping, merciful close.

2 Responses
    • The X-Tinction Agenda was decisively not good. I mean, this shit wasn’t either, but lets not get too nostalgic here.

      • I will admit to some nostalgic attachment to the crossover, but yeah, The X-Tinction Agenda helped popularize the whole “writing by committee” trend that continues to this day in the major Marvel and DC titles that’s been criticized by everyone from Mark Waid to Paul Jenkins to Greg Rucka. I think it was Chris Claremont who mentioned in an interview sometime in the early 1990s that the crossover signaled the beginning of when he stopped being a full-service writer on Uncanny X-Men and more of a scripter for Jim Lee and Bob Harras’ plots. I know then-New Mutants and X-Factor writer Louise Simonson has been outspoken about not really liking a lot of the stuff going on at the time (both in the titles she was writing in and the powerplays in the X-offices).

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