X-MEN: BATTLE OF THE ATOM #2/ Written by JASON AARON/ Art By FRANK CHO, STUART IMMONEN, CHRIS BACHALO, DAVID LOPEZ, & GUISEPPE CAMUNCOLI/ Published by MARVEL COMICS
X-Men Battle of the Atom #2 is the conclusion to the ten part crossover series, Battle of the Atom. This issue brings the time traveling shenanigans of X-Men past and future to a conclusion. However, that conclusion is rife with anti-climax, paradoxes, stable time loops, repetition, and an overall feeling of disappointment.
For those who haven’t kept up with the crossover: Cyclops, former paragon of the X-Men, has gone off the rails and started his own rogue faction. To help restore the fallen Scott’s ideals, Beast brings the original X-Men into the present day in hopes of scaring both Past and Present Cyclops straight. The plan backfires, with Past Scott begging that he and his friends stay in the present. Then a group of X-Men from the future show up, demanding the original X-Men return to the past…
What follows is fights, dozens of X-Men from the future, witty banter between past and future counterparts, and nearly every character and their mother trying to capture Past Cyclops and his friends. The fights are definitely the highlight with this last issue’s showdown against The Sentinels taking the cake. With all the explosions, smackdowns and warships being blasted by superhumans, the films of Micheal Bay immediately spring to mind. While the art is by no means spectacular, it is colorful, flashy and bold, really giving some life to this volume’s final showdown.
Sadly, the Michael Bay comparisons don’t end at the explosive fights. The biggest flaw with X-Men: Battle of the Atom #2 is that the story lack focus, heart and resolution. Famous X-Men stories by Chris Claremont or Joss Whedon are as much about the heart and soul of Wolverine or Kitty Pride, as they are about fighting aliens or traveling through time. Better yet, they manage to be conclusive.
Battle of the Atom has its share of tender moments, but ultimately it feels vapid and incomplete. For a story about Cyclops, who he was and what he’s become, both versions easily get lost amidst the shuffle of minor one-shot characters. Past Scott spends most of his time whining about not wanting to go back. Present Scott barely says or does anything. Both proceed to make some very unsavory choices, and by the end, both wind up less likable than when the crossover started.
Other characters get moments to shine but a majority of these encounters all boil down to either, “Ah! Future me scares me!” or “I love you future family member!” While some cool plot points about S.H.I.E.L.D, the Phoenix and the future of the X-Men do emerge, they get little to no development. The series just hops from fight to time travel family reunion to fight to time travel family reunion, without much of a point or pizzazz.
Then there’s the ending. The series ends on an extremely frustrating note. The major conflict is hand-waved, and despite a number of decisions that will probably break the space-time continuum, the series just shrugs them off as, “Oh well, the journey continues?” Despite everything that happened, the ending leaves readers feeling everything that happened is going to happen again, or turn out a great deal worse. Dark endings can be great, but for Battle of the Atom, it honestly feels as though nothing about the characters or story have changed.
At the end of the day, Battle of the Atom has a lot of good ideas that do not add up to a strong whole. The crossover could’ve been another Days of Future Past. It isn’t. It’s a series of fights, bad decisions, and wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff that ends weakly. There are some fun flashy moments, but with a lack of character, focus and logical decisions, Battle of the Atom feels hollow and not worth the ten volumes of build up.