Just when I thought the X-Men “Battle of the Atom” event was reaching stagnancy, here comes Brian Wood’s X-Men #6 to send the crossover blistering toward its final chapters. Next to Brian Michael Bendis’ second chapter All-New X-Men #16, X-Men #6 is the best this event has had to offer thus far, propelling the narrative forward at an alarming rate, but making time for Wood’s own narrative in his title as well. There’s stuff here that reaches all the way back to the series’ first issue, but the action sequences are what steal the show. It’s damn near impossible not to champion for a comic as epic as this one.
All hell is breaking loose in the Jean Grey School as the “fake” future X-Men are forced to enact their plan to kidnap the first class students and take over the school following the news that their real counterparts are headed to the present to straighten things out. Wood delivers enough larger-than-life encounters in a barrage of exhilarating panels that this could have been a satisfactory be-all-end-all of this entire event. There’s a shocking appearance by Wolverine’s shape-shifting son as a disguised future X-Man, the triumph of Jubliee fighting for a stabbed-and-dying Logan (with her vampire teeth unleashed), and the complete elation over watching Psylocke handing out all kinds of beatings while cradling baby Shogo in her arm. This one has it all. Not to mention there’s that final page when the Iron-Man-looking Sentinel-X of the real future X-Men takes off his helmet to reveal…oh, it’s all so good.
There’s a nice conversation between Jubilee and the mutant Bling that preludes all the action of X-Men #6 (including a nod to the still unexplained encounter between Mercury and Bling in the series’ first issue) that serves as a reminder of how light this book is without the Battle of the Atom event. Penciler David López, along with inkers Cam Smith and Terry Pallot, and colorists Laura Martin and Matt Milla render a very light first couple of pages, but are able to kick it into high gear when called upon. López offers up many well-drawn fight sequences while the color palette of the backgrounds becomes noticeably darker as the issue blazes along. In the end it’s almost a shame this team isn’t responsible for the rest of the chapters of this event, because to follow in the footsteps of X-Men #6 is not going to be an easy task at all.
GNN Comics Grade: MINT (9/10)