Review: Uncanny X-Men Issue #13

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UNCANNY X-MEN #13
BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS (W) • CHRISTOPHER BACHALO (A)
Cover by ED MCGUINNESS
X-MEN: BATTLE OF THE ATOM, PART 8!
32 Pages
Rated T+
Cover Price $3.99

While the Avengers and just about every other Marvel character deal with the epic breadth of the events of Infinity, its almost incredible for me to say that the time-traveling/multiple X-Teams/alternative universe storyline presently unfolding within the pages of Marvel’s other current event, Battle of the Atom, is pretty basic. The Original X-Men from the past, as seen in the pages of All-New X-Men, time-travel to the present day and take up residence at the Jean Grey School, as seen in the pages of Wolverine and the X-Men, who are then visited by future X-Men warning of future mutant suffering should the Original X-Men remain in the present, while Uncanny X-Men’s resident time-traveler Magik discovered a different team of X-Men in a future unlike the horrors described by the other future X-Team who, by the way, is actually a future version of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, with an agenda all their own. So, with five different X-Teams; two from the future, one from the past, and two from the present; and enough time-travel to make the Doctor double-take, Uncanny X-Men issue 13, chapter 8 of the overall event, hoped to be chockfull of exciting exhibition with exceedingly exaggerated X-gene experiencing extras, but it was much more flash than bang.

The Good

There were some great reveals on this chapter of BotA, and a couple of really fun and rewarding moments for X-fans. The reveal of Wiccan as the future Sorcerer Supreme and Quentin Quire’s antics as the future vessel for the Phoenix Force just feels natural for these characters in terms of their current standings in the overall X-Universe. Seeing a future Colossus fighting besides his little sister Illyana made for a warm and fuzzy feeling that’s been missing since the siblings have been on the outs (to say the very least) post-Avengers vs. X-Men. While these small morsels of recent nostalgia kept me reading, Chris Bachalo’s art, and just as striking panel placement and overall design is simply wonderful. Although this isn’t Bachalo’s best offering he does an amazing job of setting the pace and tone in each of the several concurrently running scenes. I’ll admit, it’s probably a combination of the writer and artist that leads to this great flow, but Bendis does some things in this issue I simply didn’t care for, and this chapter of Battle of the Atom wasn’t really essential.

The Bad

It’s almost an epidemic problem. Comic book events just take way too many individual issues to do their thing. BotA is not immune to this disease. Firstly, the book crosses over into four different X-Titles, but it really only needs three to get the job done. The Adjective-less X-Men tie-ins were not even close to necessary except in the places they forced the story or revealed tiny tidbit of random X-revelations, and seemed more like an easy way to get the title’s sales numbers up for a month or two. Despite there already being way too many pages of comic to tell this story in a way that doesn’t depend on gimmicky revelations of an alternative future created by an alternate timeline, and despite Uncanny X-Men supposedly being the flagship X-Book, this chapter of Battle of the Atom is ultimately dependent on those gimmicks. Sure it’s cool to see the new Phoenix do his thing and the Rasputin family’s reconciliation, but it still feels gimmicky, and reveals like Illyana’s presumed future suicide and the deaths of both Molly Hayes and future Xavier seemed cheap and forced; over-the-top for the sake of being over-the-top. All this would be okay if it wasn’t for the overall slow process of the main plot, which has been quite interesting. There’s so much going on, but nothing is happening. The ultimate end of the issue is more of the same, as “time itself” seems to want to keep the Original X-Men from being sent back to their own time. It’s typical Bendis, however, and I hope I’m not eventually pushed away from X-Books the way I was Avenger’s titles some years ago…but I’m worried.

The Verdict

If you’re already reading Battle of the Atom you should probably go pick this up. If you’re only reading Uncanny X-Men, congratulations, you can save yourself a few bucks by skipping it for a few issues while the event finishes. Yeah, Marvel claims there will be fallout of BotA in the various books making up the thing but that’s just marketing mumbo-jumbo, and trends tell the opposite to be the case most often. This book and the event overall are full of tiny morsels of rewarding minutia for the current diehard X-fan, and there’s a decent story in there somewhere in those panels, but there’s nothing here that feels like it is going to stick in any significant way. We may get a book starring these future X-Men at some point, adding some importance to this title, but it certainly wouldn’t be necessary to enjoy (yet another) alternative version of some future X-Team. The event isn’t over yet, I know, but this issue of Battle of the Atom was nothing but filler; stuffing for, what is seemingly, a turkey of an event in the making.

-Gaumer

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