Comic Reviews: X-Men: Battle of the Atom and Forever Evil!
The entire Marvel mutant universe gets their own event this month with Battle of the Atom #1. The first chapter in a 10-part story that will span all of the major X-titles, Battle of the Atom sets the stage pretty well, and is surprisingly new-reader friendly to boot.
The plot finds the younger X-Men team arriving on the scene of a new mutant attacking a mall. Along with Kitty Pryde (the headmistress of the Jean Grey school), they attempt to subdue the mutant, until a pack of Sentinels arrive. Just as the young team appears to be captured, the sudden arrival of Cyclops’ “uncanny” X-Men team arrives to help turn the tide. However, once the younger Cyclops suffers near-fatal wounds (and causes his older self to disappear), the X-Men decide that it’s time for the younger mutants to return to their home time. Just as soon as the arguments start though, comes the arrival of a group of future X-Men, who have come to prevent a “terrible mistake”.
If all that “past selves” and “possible futures” sounds off-putting to you, don’t worry. Writer Brian Michael Bendis actually does a great job juggling all the different time-displaced characters, and has a very succinct “here’s what you need to know” opening for the issue. This is an X-Men event designed for new readers to pick up and read, and it’s done surprisingly well. My only real gripe is the fact that you wouldn’t know that there’s any discord between Cyclops’ team of X-Men and the younger team lead by Kitty Pryde. Fans following both books know that their relationship is rocky at best, so seeing them work together, while awesome, is very strange.
Frank Cho handles the art, with an assist from All-New X-Men artist Stuart Immonen. Neither Cho or Immonen are slouches in the art department, and the transition was pretty seemless to me. There’s dozens of excellent splash pages from Cho, with the Sentinel attack easily being the highlight.
One of the pluses for Marvel lately is the quickness of their events. After reading Battle for the Atom, I’m already anxious to see what happens next. Luckily, the second “chapter” is in All-New X-Men #16, which also releases this week. If you’ve been wondering what all the hype has been about in regards to the current state of the X-Men, pick this up. It’s worth your time and cash.
Now we take a trip to the other side of the comic book world, and see DC’s opening act of Forever Evil, the first line wide event since the “New 52” reboot. Alongside September’s “Villain’s Month”, the Geoff Johns and David Finch event picks up immediately after the finale of “Trinity War”, which found Earth 3’s Secret Society arrive on our Earth, ready to claim it as their own.
Much of this event is seeing the arrival of Earth 3 “heroes” like Ultraman, Living Laser, SuperWoman, and others through the eyes of the DC villains and heroes. Proclaiming the Justice League dead, Ultraman and his fellow Society members have been visiting Arkham Asylum, Belle Reeve, and other DC universe super prisons and releasing the criminals being held there. Of course, this doesn’t sit well with Lex Luthor, who we can tell from issue’s end is already plotting to create his own “Justice League” to take these invaders down.
Geoff Johns keeps the pacing quick for this introductory issue, but I really feel like if I hadn’t read any of “Trinity War” I would have a lot of questions about this story. It may not be as new reader friendly as Marvel’s Battle of the Atom, but it’s still entertaining. I’ve always liked the DC villains, so seeing them get a chance to shine (and bicker amongst themselves) is fun, and it’s easy to see that Johns is having a great time having them interact with one another.
Also, for the first time in a while, I actually legitimately like David Finch’s art. I haven’t been the biggest fan of his current work, but he definitely pulled out all the stops for this one. Much like in Superman Unchained, be on the lookout for a massive fold out splash page, this time depicting all of the assembled villains at the ruins of the Justice League’s Watchtower satellite. It’s an awesome image to behold, and I found myself spending a good few minutes trying to spot my favorite baddies in the crowd (Man-Bat is front and center, by the way). The only question now is how many issues will Finch actually draw?
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Of course, with any big event, there’s a big, shocking thing that happens that’s usually spoiled the day of by all the big news outlets.Forever Evil is no exception, and in this issue, a character’s identity is revealed to the world. It’s pretty interesting, but in all honesty, it really points out how dumb the citizens of the DC Universe have to be, as it’s ridiculously easy to connect this character to about 5 other major DC heroes. I’m going to hope that this is covered in upcoming issues, because as cool and jaw dropping as it is, if there isn’t a single person who goes “hey, if Nightwing is Dick Grayson, then isn’t Bruce Wayne Batman?”, I’m going to lose my mind.
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Despite my minor gripes about the identity reveal, I do think it’s an interesting concept, and it certainly shows that the Secret Society is NOT messing around. Forever Evil has gotten off to a very promising start, and I’m intrigued to see where it goes. The only downside is that I have to wait a whole MONTH for part two.