All-New X-Men #16 is filled with so much good, but I need to get this one negative point out there first: X-Men Battle of the Atom #1 is an essential read before picking up this issue. Despite the numbering of this All-New X-Men, this is actually the second chapter of the Battle of the Atom crossover event, and it is predicated on readers knowing what happens in the first chapter. All-New X-Men #16 isn’t just continuing where Battle of the Atom #1 left off, it’s taking this crossover event to stratosphere-like levels of complication and fascination. You’d be a fool not to want to read the next chapter after reading this.
There’s a brief but important moment to start the book where Triage comments to Cylcops how the X-Men are so used to time travel that the craziness in their lives doesn’t seem to affect them anymore. To a certain extent, writer Brian Michael Bendis must believe this because even when faced with a future team of X-Men on a dire mission of utmost importance, the rest of the X-Men at the Jean Grey School are quick to crack a joke about the situation at hand. Wolverine assesses the future team as only he can, calling future Beast, “old-as-dirt Hank” and completely forgetting who the older Molly Hayes is despite meeting her several times as a child of the Runaways. Young Iceman is deftly astute in picking out the future version of himself and is absolutely dismayed in some of the most hilarious lines of the book.
Amidst the humor and general lightheartedness of the meeting between the teams of X-Men, Bendis writes in a tragic love story element as well. Young Jean and Scott abandon their teammates initially out of distrust for the future X-Men but fully admit to not wanting to go back to their own timeline and face their bleak outcomes. Jean knows full well that she will perish as the Phoenix while Scott will not only lose Jean but will wind up being the one that kills Professor Xavier. You can’t blame them for their decisions, though the reveal that Bendis pulls out toward the end of the issue further twists all these timelines into such a knot that I want to tune in to see how it’s all unraveled.