After starting off strong X-Men: Battle of the Atom has shown us why long story arcs cause problems with comic book story telling. While the last two chapters had their collective moments they have not added too much to what we saw early on in this story. The excitement of what happens next is still there thanks to the unpredictability of this crossover but it is not at the same level it once was. Hopefully, now that we enter the second half of X-Men: Battle of the Atom the story can regain its momentum and deliver a powerful X-Men story. Let’s find out if this is the case with All-New X-Men #17.
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Stuart Immonen
Inker: Wade Von Grawbadger
Colorist: Marte Garcia
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Years from now, Alison Blaire (Dazzler) is sitting in a room talking to someone about how she still doesn’t feel like she is right for the current position she is taking. The person she is talking to tells her that her history as a popstar, X-Men, Agent of SHIELD and an Agent of another organization makes her perfect for the role. The room becomes better lit and reveals that the people Alison is talking to are Jean Grey, Beast and Rogue and that she has become the new President of the United States.
Later that night, Alison, with the X-Men and Avengers standing behind her, attends a party outside the White House with mutants and non-mutants gathered to celebrate the historic moment of the first mutant President of the United States. While Alison makes her speech to the large crowd gathered the X-Men are all having a tough time holding back their emotions. Before Alison can complete her speech Alison is killed by a powerful fire attack. The X-Men and Avengers scramble to get everyone to safety as a number of demonic creatures begin attacking.
Years later, the Future X-Men from the Jean Grey School for the Gifted confront Magik, Past Beast and Past Iceman. Colossus is the first to speak to them because he is excited to see his little sister again and explains how he got the Soulsword from her. Wolverine (whose real name is Jubilation but it is not clear if it’s the future version of Jubilee or Logan’s kid) stops Colossus from revealing everything about the X-Men’s future. The unnamed X-Men (he may be future Hellion but I’m not 100% sure) and Phoenix (Future Quentin Quire) agree with Wolverine, while the other Future Iceman (named Sir Robert who I want to call ‘Ice-Sage’ because of his character design) tells them to calm down. Magik pleads with the Future X-Men to tell her what caused Xorn and the other Future X-Men to come to the past.
Back to the moment after Alison is assassinated, Washington DC lies in ruin with Beast sitting next to Alison’s body completely stunned at what just happened. Colossus and Iceman (Sir Robert) try to get Beast to regain his composure but Beast is just angry. He then tells the two that things will never change for them no matter what they do. Colossus tries to calm him down by saying that they’ll find who was responsible for Alison’s assassination. Beast then asks Colossus, in an angry tone, what happens next.
Years later, Iron Sentinel (that is what I am calling him until his real name is revealed) tells Magik that they can’t tell her about the X-Men’s future and that they’re sending the time traveling trio back to their timeline. Past Iceman speaks up in order to freak out over the fact that there are two versions of himself in the future (Ice-Sage and Ice-Hulk). Wolverine gets frustrated at all of the craziness and which cause her to clash with Magik. Past Beast says that he still wants to learn about what happens in the future. Phoenix and Kymera (she looks like she is the future kid of Storm and Black Panther) talk about how they want to throw Past Beast into the sun because of how much of a headache he is. Wolverine says that the decision has already been made on what to do with the time traveling trio. Colossus tells Wolverine that she is not going to stop her from helping his little sister.
In the present, the two X-Men groups from the Jean Grey School fly away in the two Blackbirds, leaving the Uncanny X-Men alone on Utopia. Magneto wonders if Cyclops has a plan on what they will do next. Cyclops says he is working on one. Just there is a blinding flash in front of the Uncanny X-Men. When the flash dies down the Uncanny X-Men see that Magik has returned with Past Beast, Past Iceman and another group of Future X-Men (sans Phoenix and the unnamed mutant). End of issue
The Good: Through the simple act of showing us what happens to the X-Men in the future if the original X-Men stayed in the present, Brian Bendis wrote the most engaging chapter of this crossover. This look at the X-Men’s future added extra layers of unpredictability to X-Men: Battle of the Atom.
When it comes to the X-Men and their future it has never been one filled with happiness. The typical time travel X-Men stories have is one where the X-Men have a negative future. We have even seen that occur in Rick Remember’s current Uncanny Avengers run. This is where Brian Bendis is able to take our perception about these types of X-Men stories and what we know from Xorn’s X-Men group in order deliver some unexpected developments.
Just the fact that the Jean Grey School is still around even after what happened with the assassination of Dazzler reminds us that we still have a long way to go before things are resolved in this crossover. There are still things we do not know about this story. What we do know now is one of the motivating factors for Xorn’s X-Men trip to the present. We are also given background on the harden attitude of Xorn’s X-Men and opens up to the possibility for a villainous turn from the group. In addition, Bendis adds another sub-plot to the story in the process with the mysterious party responsible for President Alison Blair’s assassination in the future.
I also got to give Bendis credit for making this other group of Future X-Men an intriguing dynamic, especially with how they interacted with Magik, Past Beast and Past Iceman. It was actually quite refreshing to see that the X-Men actually seem to have a positive future. Even with the awful events that took place during Alison’s assassination these X-Men seem to have moved forward and evolved their relationship with the Avengers since a version of Iron Man is part of the Future X-Men. At the same time these X-Men weren’t without their own edge as we saw that they don’t view Beast in a positive light anymore. How this and everything else we learned in All-New X-Men #17 factors into the endgame of this story will be interesting to see play out.
Stuart Immonen did a great job with the scene changes we had in this issue. He presented us with a great sense of hope during Dazzler’s speech that was subsequently turned to dread when she was assassinated. I also love the different character designs for the new Future X-Men. They all had distinct looks that gave a greater sense of how much time has passed.
The Bad: With all that has gone on since the original X-Men came to the present I am surprised with the small role that the Present Cyclops has played. Outside of Iceman and Beast he has the biggest investment in the fate of the original X-Men since his younger self is part of the group. While I do like that Bendis and the others are writing the character in a more heroic light during X-Men: Battle of the Atom I find this part of the story to be odd. It almost seems out of character for Present Cyclops to be so indecisive about all that is going on and the decisions being made for his younger self. Hopefully the presence of another group of Future X-Men will help increase Present Cyclops role in this story.
Overall: After going through a few chapters that progressed at a snail’s pace Brian Bendis turned in a fine six chapter to the X-Men: Battle of the Atom crossover. With a greater look at what the future holds for the X-Men if things stayed as they were Bendis furthered the unpredictable pace of this story. As a reader this makes what happens next be even more exciting because I have no idea what each character will do the closer we get to the end. There is so much going on in this story that I just want to get my hands on the next chapter of this crossover. In the end, Bendis was able to reinvigorating my interest in this crossover with All-New X-Men #17.