REVIEW: “Battle of the Atom” #2

(Marvel Comics, 2013)

Review by Shawn Warner

MAIN STORY:
Written by: Jason Aaron
Pencils by: Esad Ribic w/ Giuseppe Camuncoli
Finishes by: Andrew Currie & Tom Palmer
Color Artwork by: Ive Svorcina w/ Andres Mossa & GURU eFX

EPILOGUE ONE BY:
Jason Aaron, Guiseppe Camuncoli,
Andrew Currie & Matt Milla

EPILOGUE TWO BY:
Brian Wood, Kristopher Anka
& Matt Milla

EPILOGUE THREE BY:
Jason Aaron, Chris Bachalo,
Mark Irwin, Victor Olazaba
& Matt Milla

EPILOGUE FOUR BY:
Brian Michael Bendis, Stuart Immonen,
Wade Von Grawbadger & Matt Milla

This is the X-Book that almost wasn’t, although the cover would have you believe that Bendis and Cho are the creative team responsible for the concluding chapter of Battle of the Atom in actuality it is Jason Aaron and a murders row of artists featuring such heavy hitters as Esad Ribic and Giuseppe Camuncoli who step up to ultimately get the job done. The final chapter in this overall satisfying crossover contains four epilogues, one from each of the creative teams of the contributing X-titles, which I found to be a rather clever way of summing up each of the individual plot threads while participating in the overall summation of the main narrative. Things get problematic for me with the mercenary team of creators called on to finish this book with the artwork, which I know sounds absurd because Esad Ribic and Giuseppe Camuncoli are both such amazing artists, but Ribic’s work gets obliterated here by the inker, all of the subtleties that make his work so visceral and organic are replaced by heavy handed, bold lined inking which works well on other artists but Ribic’s style does not lend itself to that kind of finish. I would go so far as to say that he is not an ideal choice for an X-Men book, I’m sure he could pull it off but not like this. As far as Aaron filling in for Bendis that’s an easier sell because Aaron does a solid job approximating Bendis’ dynamic of dialogue and characterization, it’s not indicative of Aaron’s best work as we all know he is quite capable of writing all of the X-characters with his own dynamic and voice but where he is usually much more proficient and often humorous here he feels a bit stiff most likely due to the last minute substitution. However Aaron manages to handle the daunting task of writing a feasible and entertaining conclusion to a crossover event featuring an extremely large cast of characters including Kitty Pryde’s conflict of conscious which had been a developing plot thread throughout the course of the overarching narrative.

Aaron also does an admirable job of shifting the script towards setting up future storylines while allowing Battle of the Atom to establish itself as a defining moment in X-Men history. After the blatant sales pitch that was Age of Ultron this crossover feels even more legitimate and brings with it the hope that the successive stories will only be enriched by these events, ultimately progressing the overall plot of the X-Men saga.

The issue’s artistic inconsistencies diminish the tonal quality of the main story so much that it almost has the feel of a failed jam book. Ribic and Camuncoli are exceptionally talented but the lack of cohesion and chemistry seemed to overshadow all but the few highlights, one of which pays homage to the very first X-Men cover. The epilogues on the other hand feature creative teams that have been working together on the regular basis so there seems to be a more cohesive feel but there is still a sense of hurried urgency that makes the work looked rushed as well as an overall clashing of too many varied styles.

Battle of the Atom as a complete work is totally satisfying despite a final chapter that appears cobbled together and full of last minute decisions that threatened to uproot all of the amazing elements that were planted over the course of the crossover. However even with all of its flaws the creative team very narrowly saves this issue from being a complete bust; there is just enough synergy here to eke out an entertaining conclusion. The core material is so solid that is shines through the haze of last minute replacements and rushed artwork to deliver Battle of the Atom. It is not the ending this story deserved or the one we had hoped for but it does set the ground work for some very promising future X-Men stories. The epilogues alone contain enough promise to build several great arcs; Jubilee’s grown daughter, the fate of Bobby Drake and Kitty Pryde’s ultimately destiny are just a very few of the gems contained within those pages. I give this issue a 3/5 but Battle of the Atom as a complete work contains so many shining moments that I think it deserves a 4/5 and my recommendation to pick it up when it is collected if you haven’t done so in single issues. So until next time Excelsior! And see ya at the comic book store.

___________________________

Follow Shawn Warner on Twitter:  @shawnwarner629

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