Anghus Houvouras reviews All-New X-Men #17 (spoilers ahead)…
“X-MEN: BATTLE OF THE ATOM, PART 6! Magik and Young Beast have a special mission!The X-Men and Future X-Men have Jean Grey and Cyclops and are going to send them back in time with the rest of the Original X-Men.But who is opposing them and why?”
Take a moment. Let that settle in. And that’s the least weird thing that happens in the sixth chapter in the extremely entertaining and completely bonkers Battle of the Atom storyline currently running through the vast majority of Marvel’s mutant themed books.
Time travel has been at the heart of so many Marvel books that it’s fast approaching ludicrous speed. The 616 feels like it’s about to go plaid. Fortunately, the X-titles have been navigating these gonzo waters efficiently, which seems surprising since at the helm is Brian Michael Bendis. The same writer who steered the time travelling mess Age of Ultron into the rocks and sunk the entire event in a convoluted mess of pointlessness. That’s not to say that Battle of the Atom isn’t potentially pointless. There’s so many time travel tropes at play that the entire event could be wiped out making the last year of X-Men stories utterly meaningless. Unlike Age of Ultron, this story has been better handled and a much more enjoyable read.
So here’s where we’re at. Hank McCoy aka Beast went back in time and grabbed the five original X-Men and brought them to the present to show them what has become of their dream. Because he thought it was a good idea in spite of causing enough paradoxes to fracture the space time continuum into an unrecognizable mess. Now, Beast has come back with a group of future X-Men to the present, which is their past, to tell them that the X-Men from the past have to go back to their place in history or else the future (their present) will end badly.
Did you get that? I don’t know if I did, and I wrote the damn sentence.
The entire plot is bananas, but in the best possible way. The latest chapter introduces us to another sect of future X-Men. It turns out the first group of X-Men to appear from the future might not have been telling everyone the whole truth. And now, the REAL X-Men from the future are coming back to try and set things right.
The sixth chapter of Battle of the Atom is another slam dunk. There is so much crazy in every issue. Most require multiple reads just to keep track of all the characters and developments. That is not a bad thing. Bendis has created an epic clusterfuck and it’s all thanks to Beast, who seems to never learn his lesson with time travel. In spite of all the potential harm he’s causing, he continues to try and use science as a reset switch with disastrous results. Beast is a character I’ve always liked, but Bendis is giving him some new layers. There’s a complexity to the character, and his choices here feel very in line with the character.
We’re talking about a mutant whose ego and hubris propelled him into experiments that turned him monstrous. What’s to prevent him from tinkering with science to try and avert catastrophe? Even if that tinkering seems to be making things worse? The seeds of this behavior has always been there, and Bendis is sowing them slowly, turning McCoy into one hell of a tragedy.
Well done Mr. Bendis.
Anghus Houvouras is a North Carolina based writer and filmmaker. His latest work, the novel My Career Suicide Note, is available from Amazon.