Battle of the Atom rages on as the fifth chapter takes over Wolverine and the X-Men #36 and reminds us how much of a good thing the weekly change in writers is to this event. Jason Aaron has a knack for writing X-Men that can see the absurdity in their situation, so what better issue for him to write than one in which multiple teams of X-Men from the past, present, and future fight amongst themselves? Not to mention there’s an intense battle between Xorn (Jean from the future) and Young Jean taking place inside their minds. It’s the back half of the issue that actually moves the plot forward, but the first half of the issue is a heck of a lot of fun.
The Wolverine and the X-Men series has always had its share of hijinks but what Aaron is able to do as a writer is treat the material earnestly when it needs to be taken as such. He has his taste of fun in moments like present-day Cyclops explaining to his younger self that Xorn is the Young Jean in the future (“Now she’s…Old Young-Jean”) or the constant mentions of the ridiculously named mutant Goldballs, but he never undermines the tone of the battle. Aaron writes one menacing Wolverine, whose conversation with Cyclops demonstrates that this battle has a lot more meaning than simply to get some X-Men back to their own timeline. There is a severe lack of actual students from the Wolverine and the X-Men series in this issue (except for a humorous cameo from Broo) but Aaron never forgets the kids that are involved, be it from Wolverine’s own school or not.
When unleashed on the multiple pages actually showing the deep psychic battle that’s raging between Xorn, Young Jean, Emma Frost, and a few of Cyclops’ students, penciller Giuseppe Camuncoli and finisher Andrew Currie offer up a bevy of stunning visuals. It’s a lot of lovely panels of women pushing beams of light into one another for the most part, but the panel of Frost being seemingly eviscerated by psychic energy is particularly intense. Colorists Matt Milla and Edgar Delgado bring a lot of blue and red to the palette to indicate the “sides” of this battle as it were yet one of there more striking panels is when Magik enters The Jean Grey School to an orange hue engulfed in flames. Her declaration that the future X-Men might not be who they claim to be is an intriguing wrench to throw into the narrative gears, and Aaron, the paradigm for the final page teaser, offers a glimpse into that not so dire future the X-Men have been going on about.
GNN Comics Grade: VERY GOOD (7.5/10)