Saturday, October 26, 2013

X-Men: Battle of the Atom #1 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

X-Men:  Battle of the Atom #1:  Well, that was intense.  Bendis really gets your attention here, with past Scott almost dying and present Scott temporarily disappearing.  I thought that he did a great job focusing on the ramifications of that event, with the adult X-Men drawing the logical conclusion that the original X-Men pose too much of a danger to the time/space continuum to be able to stay in the present.  The arrival of the future X-Men, though, seems to call into question that hypothesis, since they seem to imply that it's sending back the original X-Men to their appropriate time that will end the mutant race.  I'm intrigued to see where we go with that.

Beyond just doing a good job introducing the larger plot, the issue itself is well plotted and scripted.  I thought Bendis did a great job reminding us how green the original X-Men are, from Kitty making the point that they survived the Sentinels' attack because they followed her orders to Scott almost dying when he disobeyed them.  As present Scott does here, you do have to wonder why Kitty decided to bring the original X-Men to confront a dragon-conjuring criminal in the first place.  (Of course, you also have to wonder why Scott brought his own green new X-Men to Ann Arbor in "Uncanny X-Men" #10, given that he knows that the Sentinels tend to appear everywhere he does.  So, you know, he probably needs to dial back the judging a little.)  Bendis also continues to have a great ear for dialogue, using the conversation between the original and present X-Men to show how it's all become such a big mess, with the adults trying to keep their focus on the big picture despite knowing that it means ignoring the teenagers' feelings.  (I also loved present Scott and Kitty's restrained patter during the confrontation in Phoenix)

I debated including this next part, but I feel like I should.  Bendis loves him a time-travel story and I generally hate them as a rule.  That said, Bendis is actually better than most at dealing with the inherent logical inconsistencies that comes with these sorts of stories.  But, I feel like this issue raises some issues that really start to unravel the sweater if you pull at them.  We have pretty much accepted, until this point, that the original X-Men coming to the future changed their time line, essentially severing it from the present X-Men's.  Essentially, it created a whole new time line.  However, if it did, in fact, create a new time line, original Scott's death shouldn't have affected present Scott's existence, since they were, at this point, essentially two different Scotts.  (Now you see why I hate time-travel stories.)

As such, if original Scott's death did affect present Scott, it implies that they're in the same time line.  If they are, then why does only this event affect the present?  For example, wouldn't Jean developing her powers earlier than she did in the original time line affect the present in some way?  I feel like the answer to that question is that the original X-Men are eventually returned to their time line and Professor X is able to undo anything that happened to them in the present; original Scott dying, obviously, would be something that he wouldn't be able to undo.  But, the longer that they're in the present, the more difficult it is to believe that.  That conclusion isn't contradicting anything Bendis has done so far; after all, the whole reason why the present X-Men want to send back the original X-Men is exactly that issue, that the longer they stay, the more damage they do.  But, we're getting awfully close to the point where it gets hard to believe that everything that happens to them in the present can be undone simply by Professor X making the original X-Men forget about it.

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