Writer: Jason Aaron
Pencillers: Esad Ribic and Giuseppe Camuncoli
Finishes: Andrew Currie and Tom Palmer
Colorists: Ive Svorcina, Andres Mossa, and Guru eFX
There are lots of cooks in the Battle of the Atom kitchen which has four epilogues and a total of ten pencillers/inkers/finishers working on the book. However, Jason Aaron is the master chef that gives this event a decent ending with consequences and not just a reset button. He is a great choice to write the conclusion to “Battle of the Atom” because he is the longest tenured X-Men writer and penned the Schism miniseries that started the whole Cyclops vs. Wolverine mess. X-Men: Battle of the Atom #2 does a great job tying up the storyline Aaron has been working on since Schism and also solves some the time travel dilemmas that Brian Michael Bendis introduced in All-New X-Men and “Battle of the Atom”. Battle of the Atom #2 also some great character interactions and some of Aaron’s signature humor which will make long time X-Men fans smile. However, the comic’s art looks rushed with some of the characters’ faces being off and not very detailed backgrounds.
Even though it has four epilogues, Battle of the Atom #2 is an actual ending with consequences for the various X-titles. Not all the time-traveling X-Men/Brotherhood die or return to their own time so there will still be some tension in the various books as far as they are concerned. Unlike Age of Ultron’s ending, “Battle of the Atom” has a huge effect on the Marvel Universe’s perception of mutants. The bits with the future Brotherhood of Mutants sabotaging SHIELD are brilliant, and it will be interesting to see how future X-Men comics deal with it. But Battle of the Atom #2 isn’t all setup. There are some great action sequences involving Xorn (Evil Jean Grey), the original five X-Men, Cyclops, and Wolverine. It is a little awkward to see future evil Beast spouting mutant supremacist philosophy in the middle of battle, but Aaron includes moments like these to show the moral ambiguity that has become a big part of the X-Men franchise in recent years. Both Cyclops and Wolverine have valid points, and Aaron doesn’t favor either side.
Along with the big picture stuff, Aaron sprinkles in a little bit of characterization in his script. Future Quentin Quire (now the Phoenix) is in the thick of the biggest parts of the battle and feels a little insecurity when the Phoenix-force starts bonding to Xorn. And each encounter Jean Grey has with Xorn cements their roles as the optimistic and pessimistic side of being a mutant. Even though it has a hard plot to follow, “Battle of the Atom” has done wonders for Jean Grey’s character development, and Battle of the Atom #2 completes that development through dialogue and action. Along with these moments, there is a hilarious exchange between the three Icemen and the final epilogue is a real tearjerker.
Despite a strong script from Jason Aaron, Battle of Atom #2 has really bad art. Not all of it is bad though. The epilogues are drawn by the creative teams of All-New X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, and X-Men so it is like reading those books. But the main story features shoddy line work, some bad facial work (Emma Frost looks like Rogue; Kitty looks like Psylocke), and almost blank backgrounds. The only segment where the coloring work really popped out was in the final climactic battle. With a limited page count, the fight scenes are rushed, and Wolverine’s lack of a healing factor is ignored. This comic could have done with a longer lead time and extra pages to finish all the individual character conflicts.
Because its artistic problems, X-Men: Battle of the Atom #2 isn’t a great comic, but it is a fitting end to the crazy “Battle of the Atom” and has some genuine emotional moments. It also gives human/mutant relations a darker tint in the Marvel Universe. This has been hinted at since the conclusion of AvX, but it comes to the forefront in this comic. Jason Aaron shows why he is the best current X-Men writer with his balance of action, humor, and characterization and saves “Battle of the Atom” from a disastrous ending.