Friday, September 11, 2015

All-New X-Men by Brian Michael Bendis #16 [Battle of the Atom]

This would be the second installment of the Battle of the Atom crossover storyline and man, it certainly delivered from the promise of the opening issue! I was all shades of excited after reading this piece. It had the most suspenseful build-up and pacing that is sometimes hard to capture in a second part of a multiple-chaptered arc but this one from the sixteenth issue of All-New X-Men did just that. It captivated me so well. In addition, there were at least six or seven full spreads in this comic book AND THEY WERE RENDERED RATHER SPECTACULARLY! It'a a visual orgasm for me.

It has to be said that, for now, I'm only going to read and review the installments of this crossover arc that exclusively belong to All-New X-Men which I know might get confusing since the next issue which is #17 is officially the EIGHTH installment of Battle of the Atom so once I read that after this, I would have missed out so many other things in the other issues before it. 

Don't fret for me. I'm a big girl and I can handle a little jarring chronology in my comics readings. Sure, I got so pissed when I read Age of Apocalypse in the wrong fucking order four months ago, but that was the fault of the Omnibus' publication not mine. This time I am choosing to read certain portions of Battle of the Atom that is relevant to my strict monthly schedule right now. You're free to skip my review for ANXM #17 if you don't want to get things mixed up and spoiled ahead for you. So, let's talk about the second part of the critically-acclaimed ten-chaptered story for Marvel Now! X-Men that is Battle of the Atom.

The issue opens with Cyclops and his Dream Team in their bunker--I mean, 'school', viewing footage of their fight with the Sentinels from last issue because Dr. Magneto--sorry, just Magneto--explained that they need to learn how to fight better so he's going all high school-coach on them as they are apparently his personal varsity mutant team (Cyke is totes principal/dean/headmaster material anyway). Christopher the healer is so freaked out by his newfound ability to raise someone from the dead in the previous issue that he had to get some air. Cyke followed him and reassured him that the young Scott wasn't really dead when Chris healed him, that he was probably comatosed. Annoyed by the casualness of his explanation, Chris stressed that perhaps Cyke is just so used to crazy things happening all the time that nothing fazes him anymore. Cyke didn't even bother disagreeing. And so we segue to where we left off from the cliffhanger last issue where we meet characters claiming to be from the future X-Men when the time-displaced OCF decided to stay in the present timeline. They are basically the living testament that the OCF trying to change their futures only made the future even bleaker and so these future X-Men are here to make sure the teenagers go back to their actual timeline.

Somewhere in Cyke's bunker-school, Warren is probably flapping his wings in celebration (if he only knew).

Wolverine stepped in to get to know these strange people. One by one they revealed themselves. First, there was a really adult Kitty (maybe mid-forties) who jumped into Logan's arms. Next, a Beast who is rocking some horns on his head which teenage Hank and present Beast are truly fascinated by since that meant they had another physical-altering mutation stage. We also had Deadpool who pushes old Kitty away so he can mockingly smooch Logan in the face. The most notable appearance had to be the bald guy who claimed to be Charles Xavier's grandson. No, wait. The most notable appearance, as far as teenage Bobby is concerned, is his futuristic version whom he is not a fan of:

I get to have my own small meltdowns every now and then too, you know! ~Bobby

While in the middle of this odd meet-and-greet, Wolverine began attacking their visitors which was rude, of course, but during the commotion between both sides who started attacking back one another (why not), Wolverine claimed it was not him who started it; that someone was controlling his arms. They looked around frantically and realized that both young Jean Grey and Scott Summers were gone. We get a flashback sequence two minutes ago where Jean telepathically communicated with young Hank that something was wrong about their visitors, that she can't read their minds, and she is instinctively distrustful of that. She can't explain it but she feels in her gut that the visitors are not who they are claiming to be. She begged Hank to get out of there with her but--not to my surprise--Hank opted to stay. As a man of science, he is more interested to see how things unfold because his inherent curiosity will always be something he listens to--more than the girl he is in love with. And that, ladies and gents, is the reason I personally believe why Hank will never be with Jean Grey. He is far too cautious and absorbed in his scientific pursuits to ever notice anything else, including the girl he loves who is adamant in her gut feeling about the wrongness of a situation. In that moment, I think Jean realized that the two of them may have some romantic vibe going on (issue #15) but when and if things go haywire and shitty, Hank will choose to hang back and observe than act first; even when Jean's first instinct is telling otherwise. So what does she do? She turned to Scott instead but I don't think she was really expecting a different result.

And yet, in less than ten seconds after she connected with his mind and told him in one sentence that she doesn't have a good feeling about this, Scott (who is just as cautious and practical as Hank, probably even more so) looked at her and agreed and then she started controlling Wolverine's arms to distract everyone as she took Scott's hand and they ran away together. OH, IT WAS VERY ROMANTIC AND ADORBS! I am never sarcastic when it comes to Jean and Scott's undeniable and visceral chemistry and this singular moment only solidifies the fact that Scott trusts Jean and will trust her no matter what. If she says they're in danger, he will believer her. If she says the end of the world is coming, he will take her hand and follow her to wherever she wants them to go. That right there is why they will inevitably fall in love.

Hank is far too fascinated observing his other selves to pay attention to the gut feeling of the girl he claims to love
Meanwhile, Scott threw away caution in the wind if it meant staying by Jean's side, facing the unknown with her

So after the X-Men figured out what the two lovebirds did, Storm expressed that Jean never would have run away like that if she didn't have a reason to, and Wolverine agreed, stating that she must have picked up something in their visitors' heads that made her bolt and flee. Xavier's grandson admitted that he had cloaked everyone's thoughts so she wouldn't have an access and Wolverine was suspicious now. Just like Jean said, only someone who has something to hide would make such a preemptive decision to block a telepath. 

Rachel Summers also just arrived and focused her attention on the other X-Man who has yet to introduce himself and who was wearing the mask of the person who murdered Jean Grey years ago right there in the school. In response, the person unveiled who he is underneath the mask and it's no other than the adult Jean Grey. Everyone is really shocked especially Rachel, Ororo, Logan and Kitty who never thought they'd see the face of woman they have loved and respected again especially after her brutal murder. Adult Jean had no problem being affectionate to Rachel and Ororo too which showed her familiarity with them which was nice to see. 

So this installment ended with that beguiling revelation. You know what, guys, I think I would probably read and review issue #17 first but will still read the other issues for Battle of the Atom right after doing so. But I won't be posting reviews for those issues and will instead go straight to reviewing only the last chapter of the crossover (since I already read X-Men 01 in the previous post) then continue on with #18 to 40 for the rest of September. Now I might give some bread crumbs about the rest of the storylines that happened in BotA along the way in final review of this crossover, but I'd really rather focus on the issues exclusively from ANXM. Let's see what happens.


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