Since AvX ended, the main point of the X-Men world has been the arrival of the teenage versions of the original team in the present in what has to be one of the worst decisions in the X-Men mythos. Worse than “let’s let the world believe us to be dead”. In an attempt to make Cyclops realize how far he’s strayed, Beast pulls out not the family albums or videos, but rather himself and his teammates from the past. The effort does not impress Cyclops at all, but for whatever reason when the kids decide to stick around in the present, no one really flags this as a bad idea.
Battle of the Atom is the story that gets around to addressing how awful an idea this whole thing is…well, actually it starts to, then quickly shoots off into time travel shenanigans, gratuitous fighting, trickery and shenanigans, then a HUGE BIG DEAL at the end that pretty much comes out of left field to make sure at least SOMETHING happens to justify the ten issue crossover.
In the sake of big, stupid fun, it’s perfectly acceptable. There’s running around, happy moments, sad moments, and OMG reveals galore. But in the sake of a bigger narrative, a storyline direction and characters making rational decisions and coming with ends/means life-altering decisions? Not so much.
I’ll get into the deal after the jump. Here’s hoping you’ve read it, because there will be SPOILERS WITHIN.
(Note: WordPress has suggested that I add links to my article. Click at your own risk.)
So while I haven’t caught up with the Catching Up features, I feel like the launching of Battle of the Atom is a good place to restart my running commentary of all things X-related as to keep this blog relevant for the current comic fan. Hey, we appreciate you, fair reader, even when we tend to disagree (looking at you).
So here harkens the return of the eXaminations feature! Huzzah and whatnot! This week we’ll be looking at:
- X-Men: Battle of the Atom #1 in which all the time craziness starts coming to a head.
- All-New X-Men #16 in which the story keeps going with a big honking reveal.
- X-Factor #262 in which the series gets its happy ending with the promise of more to come.
- X-Men Legacy #16 in which Legion finally takes a look at that whole ‘Cyclops killed my dad’ thing.
- Infinity is going on in the Marvel U, so we’ll take a look at that. It’s got some X-Characters in it.
The words past the jump have the understanding that you’ve read the books covered. Thus, any SPOILERS presented are not going to make me lose any sleep. Just saying,
Once upon a time, Astonishing X-Men was launched to be the new flagship title of the X-Men line, but numerous delays from its high-profile creators eventually led the rest of the line to move on without it. By the end of both Joss Whedon, then Warren Ellis’s runs, the book seemed to be doomed to a status of X-Men Unlimited, hoping to sell on is past history of excellence. I used to complain all the time about it.
That changed when Marjorie Liu took over the title and gave it something of a reason for existing, using a stable cast of X-Men characters that no one else was messing with including Northstar, Cecelia Reyes, Karma, and shockingly enough Gambit. What does it say about the X-Men line when no one’s using Gambit? Anyway, Liu gave a voice to the book and gave the book more of a family feel that the line has seemingly lacked while bouncing from major event to major event. Instead of focusing on relationships that have built upon for decades (Wolverine/Cyclops, Kitty Pryde/Colossus), Liu’s title focused more on the bond between her cast which hadn’t been seen before.
Of course, she had me at Cecelia Reyes. I love that short-lived era of the X-Men.
The major selling point of Liu’s Astonishing was the wedding of Northstar to his boyfriend, Kyle, but the book kept running past that and has since used Kyle as a supporting member of the cast – another thing that the X-Men books haven’t seen much of.
As I catch up to the current issues of the various X-books that I haven’t been doing my eXaminations on, I decided I’d do a post about my thoughts on how each book is going in the whole Marvel NOW! hooplah.
First up is All-New X-Men, since it’s all new and all.
Brian Michael Bendis has had his fill of Avengers and moved his seat over to the X-table, now writing both of what one might consider the “flagship” books (though to be fair, there are two other books that are just X-Men team books as well and one about the school itself). The first one out of the gate to wave the NOW! flag was All-New, and if you can’t tell from the image above, the whole premise is getting back to the X-Men roots through wacky time travel antics.
But that’s putting it mildly. The reality of the book’s premise is a bit more convoluted in that Beast, believing himself to be dying from his latest round of genetic mutation (farewell, cat Beast), decides to nab the original five X-Men from the past and bring them to the present to make Cyclops realize how just awful he’s been of late.
Does that seem dumb to you? That seems kind of dumb to me.
Anyway, the kids do the confrontation, predictably it doesn’t do anything of consequence and then the kids decide that since their Professor X is going to wipe the memories from their heads upon their return home anyway, they might as well stay in the present and fix things so they can go with the knowledge that they’ll eventually have a world worth living in, which admittedly the Marvel U has never been for mutants.
Now that’s an okay setup on a basic level, I guess, but it really doesn’t seem to be working in execution. For one, the pickup point for the kids happens in the middle of the original X-Men #8 in which Beast and Iceman return home up in arms about being mobbed simply for being mutants. That’s all well and good in the sense that it gives the X-Men a place where Xavier won’t notice them gone (of course, being that it’s time travel that is a moot point), but it puts the kids way to early in the heroing career to be in the all-in idealists for Xavier’s dream that the story seems to be requiring.
You might think it’s perfectly acceptable for the kids to want to make a difference here being that they are already teenage super-heroes and thus not much for exactly grand self-preserving life choices, but the underlying problem is what happens if something happens to the kids in the present? If teenage Beast dies in the present, what happens to all the crap Beast’s done in his fifty years of existence? All of the responsible super-heroes are standing around going “this doesn’t seem like a good idea” and then just shrugging and walking away. It’s a story where everyone is putting aside any kind of common sense to the matter just because the premise doesn’t really make a lot of sense.
But comics can do that, so what am I complaining about?
The other thing I’ve noticed is that the kids don’t seem to really be acting much like their character bases, but that comes as much from the 60’s X-Men having been remarkably dull characters for a lot of their Silver Age antics. Iceman and Beast handle easily enough – one needs to be goofy and the other needs to be pretentious – but the rebelling teenage Cyclops doesn’t really fly as well with me. Silver Age Cyclops was much more straight laced then that, especially right at the beginning, where the storyline nabbed the kids from. Angel doesn’t get any kind of real characterization at all, though he leaps over to Uncanny not long in, so I may be talking to soon.
My main problem with this book is that it just seems to be stalling for time. We’re 14 issues in and not that much has actually really happened. The kids are in the present and hanging out with Kitty Pryde, and that’s about it. It’s like they’re just standing around until something comes around to need them. And being that something dealing with their time traveling stuff is going to be in the Next Big Event, that may be exactly what this book’s going to do.
Fine if you’re really aching for a Jean Grey in your life, but underwhelming for me.
Next time: Astonishing X-Men
Let me tell you one thing, and I’m being completely honest.
X-Men, the 1992 arcade game, is incredible. Despite what I may say in the rest of this post, the game is fucking incredible – and I try not to drop the f-bomb around here unless I’m really serious about something. It’s my favorite X-Men game ever and I hope to one day own a copy of the 6-man cabinet.
There. Now that we’re clear on that point – this game is a crazy hot load of mess. But it’s the quirky kind of arcade mess that you likely never noticed in your youth, or simply didn’t care about. Like where Shredder banished the Ninja Turtles into prehistoric times in Turtles in Time, yet still sent Foot Soldiers after them.
X-Men is an entire game of sending Foot Soldiers into the prehistoric past to defeat your enemies whom you’ve already defeated.
But let’s not dwell on the negative. There’s a lot of positive to this game.’
Welcome back. For this part, we’ll be looking at:
- Wolverine & the X-Men #5 & 6 in which Kitty gets all preggers…kind of.
- Wolverine & the X-Men #2 (of 5) in which Quentin Quire’s plan shows flaws.
- X-Factor #231 & 232 in which Madrox keeps on his death-inducing reality hops.
- X-Men #24 & 25 in which Jubilee gets some vampire therapy.
- X-Men Legacy #261 & 262 in which Team Wolverine has some Biblical-level issues.
Earlier SPOILER alert is still in effect.