Brandon Borzelli’s Geek Goggle Reviews
With the first two parts to the crossover, “Battle of the Atom”, shipping this week and both penned by Brian Michael Bendis it seems natural to review them together. Bendis puts together two comics that tries to find the right mix of action and discussion allowing the reader to come up to speed quickly but not be bored out of their minds. The comics are well illustrated and definitely feel epic. This is worth checking out but the question is whether you like what you find and I think it caters to different audience types for sure.
What Bendis does in the opening issue is introduces the casts of the two X-Men teams on a smaller scale then presents a problem at the end. The second issue explores the problem and then smashes things up at the end to create a scatter effect for a couple of characters and the chase for the main group to find the missing ones is on. This is a common way to kick off an X-Men crossover and it’s perfectly fine when dealing with such a large cast. It’s entertaining enough to entice a reader to see the ten part series through if they are already fans or are into the storyline. However, the casual reader might find this difficult to follow or simply uninteresting as it really isn’t anything terribly new.
The aspect of these two comics that I found the most surprising was the inaccessibility of them. No character run-down, small recap page, limited character introductions throughout the opening issue. With multiple characters of the same name running around this becomes problematic. For example, Kitty is an X-Men from the current time period hanging around the crew from the past though she isn’t even introduced by name until midway through the first issue. This is very sloppy and could make a new reader’s head spin.
What works in the book is how quickly things develop and wrap-up. Bendis moves these two issues from scene to scene and makes sure each book leaves off in a natural spot. I liked the clever bit of telling the same scene twice from two different angles in the second issues but I can see how this might seem like killing time. Overall, I liked the pacing.
Bendis also plays to the character’s strengths well. He uses Wolverine’s sniffing abilities to narrate which character is which in one part that seemed natural and effective. Bendis also manages to frame the general plot well enough without beating it over the reader’s heads with it. The mutants are messing up the timeline and continue to mess with it in order to “fix” it or prevent further damage. It’s a slippery slope but so far Bendis is keeping this under control whereas he did not with Age of Ultron.
The artwork is very good in the first issue. The pencils are sharp and the coloring is vibrant as the comic flows perfectly in a visual sense. The second issue is bit looser with the pencils but is equal to the task in its epic nature of the presentation. The second issue is heavier on the dialogue and the artwork makes sure to sell the drama to the reader. It’s a good start visually with these two chapters.
Battle of the Atom has a lot of promise. The double dose of Bendis is a good litmus test to determine if this crossover is for you or not. It’s got a lot of displaced characters and a lot of chest puffing but the books move quickly and in natural directions. The only drawback here is the accessibility issues for the outsider but these two issues are a good start to what looks like a promising storyline.
4 out of 5 Geek Goggles