Battle of the Atom is over and it’s going out not with a bang or a whimper, but a heavy sigh. Writer Jason Aaron generally wraps-up the ten-part event with Battle of the Atom #2 but with so many loose ends left dangling, it’s hard to feel completely satisfied with how it all plays out. This issue certainly feels like the epic grand finale it’s set-up to be, complete with a staggering four epilogues—featuring four different writers and artists—that rearranges some pieces of the X-Men puzzle to effect several of the books moving forward in interesting ways. But the saga of the Future X-Men and the Brotherhood of the future is unceremoniously concluded without full closure of the questions still lingering, just an explosive (and ultimately unsatisfying) end.
Taking a look at the credits page for Battle of the Atom #2, it’s hard to know who’s steering this ship. Aaron is credited as the writer for both the main attraction as well as two of the epilogues, but plastered on the cover of the book are Brian Michael Bendis, Frank Cho, and Marte Gracia (the latter two are not featured inside at all), so there’s an immediate feeling of something amiss right from the start. Aaron has a handle on the superfluity of mutants Battle of the Atom has amassed in its ten chapters, and although I’m not keen on more in fighting among the X-Men, he breaks the battles up to manageable segments. Seeing Phoenix Quentin Quire going toe-to-psychic toe with Xorn (Old Jean Grey) is impressive, and the emotional magnitude of the final battle between Xorn, Wolverine, and Cyclops is deafening.
But Aaron ties up the bow a little too neatly considering all of the answers still in play by the end. For instance, we still have no insight into the formation of the Brotherhood that kick started this whole event, and the tragic assassination of the first mutant President back in All-New X-Men #17 is still without an assailant. Considering how often in this whole event characters would ask Old Jean what has happened in the future to make her the way that she is, it’s stunning that it is never addressed again in the finale. Likewise, the problem of the X-Men of the past not being able to return to their time seems washed over, handled only briefly in the first epilogue when Beast says, “I shall get to work on the problem immediately.” Thanks, Hank, guess we’ll stay tuned then.
Undeniably, Battle of the Atom #2 excels in its presentation, and that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise considering Esad Ribic is the main contributing artist. Much like his work on Thor: God of Thunder, Ribic’s renderings have a massive and grand look to them, so when the first splash page opens with all of the X-Men being fired upon by S.H.I.E.L.D., it feels like the beginning of the end just as it should. There’s a sudden change to Giuseppe Camuncoli’s pencils toward the end of the issue that looks odd, but colorists Ive Svorcina, Andres Mossa, and Guru eFX keep the art looking bombastic. Chris Bachalo and Stuart Immonen offer a few pages of epilogue which, given how well those segments turn out, is just not enough. When it comes down to it, Battle of the Atom #2 isn’t enough either; it’s highly entertaining but inconclusive just the same.
GNN Comics Grade: GOOD (6.5/10)