Friday, October 4, 2013

X-Men: Battle of the Atom recap: Chapters 5 & 6

Posted By on Fri, Oct 4, 2013 at 5:37 PM

Those following the Comic Afterthoughts blog have seen our recaps of the X-Men Battle of the Atom event, from the debut of mysterious mutants of the future to a psychic standoff. But after four chapters, things still seemed a bit slow. There really wasn't that much of the battle, as alluded in promotional materials. And as we discussed in the last recap, having so many characters in a single event seemed to be weighing on the narrative. So what did the fifth and sixth chapters do? They added more mutants.

Battle56.jpg

We'll get to that in a bit, though. First, let's go back to that psychic standoff, and see how the plot of Battle of the Atom has unfolded to its current twist. Those who were hoping for more action and plot points after the first four parts of the event will certainly be pleased.

At the beginning of Chapter 5, the confrontation between the alleged future X-Men and Cyclops' team has escalated between future Jean Grey, young Jean Grey, and Emma Frost with her Cuckoos in tow. Cyke calls the "psychic battle" the "fiercest I've ever seen." And trust me, this guy has seen them.

Thankfully, our view isn't the same as the rest of the X-Men, and we can see the mind battle for ourselves. It's indeed fierce, with the fight whittling down to young Jean Grey and her future self. Amid the psychic hysteria, Wolverine's crew enters the scene, and a war is brewing.

But before we can see that come to fruition, we're transported back to the mansion, where young Beast and Iceman are discussing whether the future mutants are who they claim. Magik, who has been hopping between the present and future the entire event, appears to invite the duo to see what the future holds. Their hand-off to one of the residents of the school provides some brief humor. Meanwhile, back at the standoff, a Battle of the Atom is finally happening.

Young Jean Grey pummels her older self into submission and sees a horrifying vision of what happens. And in an odd moment, Deadpool is tired of seeing everyone fight and doesn't want to go back to the future. He opts to kill himself after a page-long speech, but is stopped by young Jean. Her vision moves her to say it's time to return to the past (with an audible rejoice from yours truly).

It seems to be settled. As usual, writer Jason Aaron's Cyclops provides some overly jerkish dialogue, before Wolverine thanks Deadpool for the speech. In a quieter moment, the 'Pool reveals that none of it was true as he murmurs to himself. You know, as people in comics do to drive the story.

Chapter 5 ends with Magik, young Beast and Iceman entering the future, only to meet, yes, another group of X-Men from the future. Put the aspirin down though, because things do get interesting in Chapter 6.

The latest part puts the narrative back in the hands of writer Brian Michael Bendis. Alison Blaire, also known as the Dazzler, is being coaxed for a presidential run by the future versions of Beast, Kitty Pryde and Jean Grey. It's a strange flashforward, as it's then revealed to be a disaster when Blaire clinches the win at the White House. A group of monsters wreak havoc at the celebration, killing her and many others.

Back to the end of the last chapter, in which Magik and her two fellow travelers meet that new group of mutants. A mustachioed Colossus is a member, and a brief and touching reunion with Magik is interrupted by future Jubilee, who, like we've heard before, protests interactions with those of another time. Others in this new group include a male Phoenix, an Iron Man-like figure and a Gandalfian version of Iceman, prompting the question of how Bobby Drake has become two people after we've already met Ice Hulk. We get a slight explanation over the rift between the two future bands of mutants, with a division occurring after President Blaire's death. Also, Hank McCoy is unpopular in every stage of his life, it seems.

After a vote, these mutants travel back with Magik, young Beast and Iceman. Now, everyone is here. All of the X-Men shown in this series are now in the present, and hopefully, the real battle will get under way in the next chapter.

A few notes:

* Those monsters seem like they could have been made by that new mutant who debuted in the first chapter (the one that looks like Zealot), don't they?

* Charles Xavier's grandson had no part in the psychic battle. What gives?

* Can we please inject some humanity back into Cyclops?

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