Battle of the Atom is well over the halfway point and Brian Wood has picked up the baton once again and continues the strange tale of X-Men from the future, X-Men in the future, and past X-Men in THEIR future...it’s all much less confusing than it sounds. Last issue saw Magik lead Cyclops’ team to the future to meet the actual future X-Men, which means, uh oh, who’re the X-Men currently taking up residence in the Jean Grey School, trying to send the younger members back to their past? This is definitely an action-filled issue, but Wood knows a thing or two about writing excellent action scenes in addition to establishing characters. This event is one where there are a lot of new characters involved, and due to its length, they can be developed by the right writer. Anyone who’s read Wood’s run on Star Wars knows that he’s definitely up to the task of taking both well-established and new characters and putting an interesting spin on them. Also: BROO!!! Yay for Broo, we all love Broo, if you don’t love Broo, you’re probably not a very nice person to be around!
David López handles pencilling this action-packed issue with Cam Smith and Terry Pallot on inks and the prolific Laura Martin assisted by also-prolific Matt Milla on colors. WHEW! That’s an awful lot of artists for one issue, but it shows beautifully and it’s great that they’re clearly not tripping over one another. The action jumps off very, very abruptly and once it’s on, it is ON, so it’s good that the art is as fluid from one panel to the next as it is. The details are also very striking with a lot of little things gotten just right, in fact at first I thought the book was being drawn by Olivier Coipel, though that could be as much as a result of his collaborations with Martin. Not to say there isn’t a unique style on it, but Coipel is one of my favorite artists, so this was definitely a delight to behold.
I really have no idea what the point of this event is and I REALLY don’t know why it had to be ten issues. Even the paragraph of context given on the recap page does little to help anyone either just jumping in or who has gotten ONLY the X-Men issues of the event. Obviously, this is the 7th part of a story, so jumping on needn’t be a large focus, but since it’s a cross-over, I feel that extra effort should be made. There’s also only so long that character motivations can remain completely in the dark before intrigue gives way to frustration and we are just about on that line, if not a little over. What, exactly, the not-X-Men from the future want is hinted at, but why it was absolutely critical to their plan that the original X-Men return to the past is still a complete mystery. I just keep thinking that if it were two or even one issue shorter, it would’ve been perfectly lean, but maybe the next two issues will prove me wrong.
Even as over-extended as I think the cross-over is (I’m also somewhat averse to cross-overs that take this long because of regular readers either needing to increase their weekly buying, or having to skip out on a title), I actually do like how the characters are written, how they interact with one another, and I absolutely LOVE the designs of the future X-Men (both real and otherwise). The plot is losing me somewhat, but the overall writing is strong enough to carry it to being entertaining and the art is fantastic on its own merits. I think this will be a great collected work, to be sure, we just need to get there first.