granitesoldier's X-Men #5 - Battle of the Atom Chapter 3 review

Past, Present, Future...Headtrip

I want to start this by saying I am not reading Battle of the Atom. I did not have the extra cash for all the tie-in crossovers and stand alone issues to the event, so I am just sticking with my monthly X-Men pickup. X-Men issue 5 is clearly entrenched in the middle of this event. Because I am not reading it, it makes it difficult to review this issue. For those familiar with all the X-Men titles no explanation is needed, but as I did not keep up I was somewhat lost.

Now I am aware there is the past versions of the five original X-Men brought to the present by Hank McCoy, the Beast. Apparently, this is causing some sort of paradox, or will. This is to be expected, the idea of having past individuals live in the future and learn about the lives they will live before they've lived them can only lead to fifty kinds of bad news. What I did not know, and I apologize if this spoils anything for anyone, is that there is a group of future X-Men here now as well, who evidently warned the present X-Men that having the past X-Men in the present will cause this apparent paradox. If that doesn't make a whole lot of sense, I apologize, but that's exactly how it is presented.

The issue opens after past Jean Grey and past Cyclops have run off with the Blackbird because they do not want to return to the past they are supposed to come from. Future Beast and present Beast reveal a second plane, The Dove, and Storm, Psylocke, Wolverine, the future X-Men, and a few other present day-ers go after past Jean and Cyclops. Storm forces Kitty and Rachael to stay behind with the remaining past X-Men in case future Jean and Cyclops returns.

Since I am not 100% familiar with this event, I found the parts back at the Jean Grey School and the dialogue between Kitty and Rachael interesting. You see some more develop of the Rachael-Storm tension, and we are starting to see a bit of a division in this all-female X-team. It is also interesting to see Rachael's thoughts on the current matter of forcing the past X-Men to return to the past, seeing as she is not from the present at all. Rachael and Kitty reach the inevitable conclusion every reader knew they would: chase after the rest.

The X-Men pursuing past Jean and Cyclops get them pinned on the California interstate, by tracking young Jean's psychic trail, and seem like they are about to capture the rogue pair when Rachael and Kitty show up, and argument ensues. And, expectedly, during the course of this argument past Jean and Cyclops go away. Jean seems to be heeding some sort of directions, heading somewhere out to sea. Where they go and who they meet, I won't spoil. It was a surprise to me, and if you only follow select X-titles or only have a general understanding of the current X-Men state of affairs (like myself) who they run into will probably surprise you too. Those familiar, you can probably guess.

David Lopez takes over art from Coipel, who did a fantastic job. Lopez is poised to continue that. I particularly love the way Rachael is drawn, and how well Lopez seems to capture facial expressions in ink.

The only bad thing I have to say about this issue is that it is predominantly tied into the Battle of the Atom event, and only mildly deals with the issues of the cast of this X-Men title. I expected that at a certain point we might get character saturation in this title, after all the X-Men are huge. However, with all the past, present, and future X-Men and multiple copies of certain characters running around it made it more confusing than it needed to be. I also didn't like how certain members of this book, Rogue and Psylocke for example, were almost completely overshadowed because the focus was on the event, and mildly on the internal Storm-Rachael conflict. It felt like they were treated as side players who were not currently important.

Overall, I still recommend this book and like where it is headed. The internal conflict brewing between Rachael and Storm is nothing new, we've seen it in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Raph and Leo) and in the X-Men before (Wolverine and Cyclops) but it seems like it will be handled differently as more appropriate to the cast's personalities. Battle lines are being drawn, and right now it seems like Rachael and Kitty are on one side, and Storm, Rogue, and Psylocke on the other. I tentatively put Rogue and Psylocke in Storm's corner, and Kitty in Rachael's, as they almost seem to randomly agree with one over the other or not really care about the internal issues. It seems like they will fall on these sides, if they do at all, and it is not shown if they will get more involved in Storm and Rachael's at-ends. A good issue, not great, but as I said before my lack of involvement with the Battle of the Atom event I feel prevents me from enjoying it as much as I could have. The next issue is set to be part 7 of the event, but hopefully things are cleared up a bit more at that point and there's greater focus on this title's main cast of characters.

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