The first issue for Children Of The Atom established the tone of this series. With that a major mystery was created as Children Of The Atom #1 ended with the teenagers inspired by the X-Men being unable to go through the Krakoan portal. This set-up the question of whether the Children of the Atom team are actually mutants or something else. Along with that question we do know that the X-Men are aware of the Children of the Atom’s active status. How will the X-Men respond to this new teenage team rise in the public? Let’s find out with Children Of The Atom #2.
Writer: Vita Ayala
Artist: Bernard Chang
Colorist: Marcelo Maiolo
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: At the Krakoan Embassy in New York City the Avengers (Captain America, Iron Man, and Captain Marvel) confront Mystique over the activity of the Children of the Atom. The Avengers remind Mystique that if the kids don’t follow the Kamala Law they will be placed in “re-education centers.”
Storm appears and reminds the Avengers how they denounced the Kamala Law when it impacted the Champions but are applying it to mutants. Storm tells the Avengers that Krakoa handle there own and she now has to tend to mutant matters.
After the Avengers leave Storm asks Mystique to use her tracking skills to located the Children of the Atom.
Elsewhere Gabe Brathwaite (Cherub) tries to talk his mom into letting him go to the Dazzler concert while showing how he has upheld his responsibilities. After a while Gabe’s mom agrees to let him go but asks him to stay safe. Gabe promises to stay safe.
At the opening night for the Dazzler concert Gabe, Carmen (Gimmick), Buddy Bartholomew (Cyclops-Lass), and Benny (Marvel Guy) are at the merch table with Buddy reminding her friends to not talk about their Children of the Atom activity in public.
Gabe spots his friend Cole in the crowd. While they catch up Cole reveals his parents put him in an experimental treatment program that helped in his recovery. Cole mentions that its thanks to Gabe he became a Dazzler fan as her music helped him through his recovery. Gabe is happy to hear Cole is doing well.
Before they go to the concert Gabe, Carmen, Buddy, and Benny get a text from Jay Jay (Daycrawler) that the Hell’s Belles are attacking somewhere else in the city.
The teens change and Daycrawler teleports Cyclops-Lass, Gimmick, Cherub, and Marvel Guy to where the Hell’s Belles are. Briquette appears with the Hell’s Belles, revealing that she has rejoined the villain team. Now with Briquette the Hell’s Belles are able to evenly fight with the Children of the Atom. Eventually Briquette power overwhelms the Children of the Atom.
Just as Briquette is about to kill Cherub, Storm appears to stop the fight. Storm offers the Hell’s Belles sanctuary in Krakoa with full amnesty. After initially hesitating the Hell’s Belles take Storm up on her offer.
While Outlaw, Toad, and Mercury take the Hell’s Belles through the Krakoan portal Storm talks with the Children of the Atom. Storm mentions that something has been blocking their ability to scan the teens. Storm then gives them her X-Men badge to use if they ever need her or the other X-Men’s help. Cyclops-Lass thanks Storm for the gift.
Later that night Buddy, Carmen, Gabe, Benny, and Jay Jay return to the Krakoan portal and get ready to attempt to go through it again. End of issue.
The Good: Taking what was established with the first issue of this series Vita Ayala continues to examine the lives of the Children of the Atom as both superheroes and regular teenagers. In the process we see the Kamala Law that has driven the Outlawed direction for the Marvel Universe being brought into play. Which gave us an opportunity to see the brewing rivalry between the X-Men and Avengers once again come into focus. All of this played to the strength of this series being the teenage cast that make up the Children of the Atom.
Where the first issue of this series placed a focus on Carmen/Gimmick and Buddy Bartholomew/Cyclops-Lass, Children of the Atom #2 placed a spotlight Gabe Brathwaite/Cherub. As with Buddy and Carmen, we got to spend more time with Gabe in his personal life as we got a look into the dynamic he shares with his mom. What I appreciated most about this entire interaction was how Ayala didn’t just portray Gabe’s mom as overbearing to the point of antagonistic. Instead Celeste Brathwaite was given the time to show that her concerns came from a place of love and made sure to hear out her son’s side. This made the entire interaction stronger as we do get to understand the supportive environment that Gabe comes from.
This worked in well to make Gabe a much more fleshed out character as are also shown through this conversation with his mom that he has taken up many responsibilities in his family. This helps to strength how we do see when he is Cherub that he is always looking out for his teammates. It’s a natural part of how he has grown up and we see that with how he was quick to be the one to stand up to buy his teammates time to escape when they got overwhelmed by the Hell’s Belles.
Speaking of the team, it is good that we do continue to see how the Children of the Atom can’t hold back their excitement over being superheroes. Even though Buddy tries to get them to talk in code when in public we once again see that they are having fun being superheroes. This speaks to how being superheroes and following in the footsteps of the X-Men is what they have always wanted to do.
This excitement made how they got humbled in the second fight with the Hell’s Belles work even better. Because you could see at the beginning of Children of the Atom #2 that beating the Hell’s Belles in their first save the day moment was a big deal to them. They showed signs of being overconfident with how openly they were talking about being superheroes. But now after having to go through an overwhelming defeat against the Hell’s Belles, who had Briquette rejoin the team, was a humbling experience.
The whole fight between the Children of the Atom and Hell’s Belles did a good job at adding how the X-Men aren’t wasting time in addressing the appearance of the former. Opening Children of the Atom #2 up with Storm confronting the Avengers and calling them out on their hypocrisy over how they are handling the Kamala Law worked well. For one, this once again highlights how selective the Avengers have always been when it comes to how they’ve always handled their relationship with the X-Men and mutants in general. We’ve seen time over time that the Avengers have been more authoritative when it suits them, especially when it comes to how they’ve handled their relationship with the X-Men and mutants in general.
Storm calling them out on this and bringing up the Champions was perfect. It’s a good use of the current Outlawed storyline as we have seen the Avengers be hands off with how they’ve been with the Champions. Storm bringing all this up was a good way to have Captain America and the others back down, so we don’t jump into another Avengers vs X-Men fight. It does show that there is some respect between the team while further setting the stage for when the Avengers and X-Men eventually have a bigger story together down the line.
Ayala continued to strengthen the ambassador role for Storm with how the Children of the Atom and Hell’s Belles fight was resolved. Storm quickly asserting her power and getting the Hell’s Belles to understand that they do have a home in Krakoa was great. Storm did not need to add to the destruction that went on in the fight by being another combatant. Instead, she appeared as an understanding ambassador for Krakoa and once again highlighting how the nation is a second chance for all mutants.
How Storm handled the Hell’s Belles seamlessly work well into how she was able to talk with the Children of the Atom in an understanding way. She made them understand that while she would love them to come to Krakoa that she will not force them to make it. This made how well the Children of the Atom received this invite from Storm was shown to be what the teens wanted to hear from those they looked up to.
Now while the Children of the Atom do get the invite from Storm to Krakoa it is still not fully answered if they are in fact mutants. That is still something that we haven’t seen answered as the final page does not show them going through the Krakoan portal like they attempted in the first issue. Storm once again brought this up with how she mentioned that Cerebro could not detect the kids and she had Mystique use her tracking skills to find them. It’ll be interesting to see if this mystery of their status as mutants is continued or confirmed in the next issue.
Bernard Chang artwork was solid once again in Children of the Atom #2. Chang’s artwork is at its best when drawing the characters in their superhero form. The action is well placed as each character continues to show off their respective powers and abilities.
The Bad: The one thing that did not work as intended in was how Gabe Brathwaite’s inner monologue was used. For one, it was just distracted from the conversation that Gabe was having with his mom and friends. It would be one thing if we got a panel that was just his inner monologue and another with the dialogue for the conversation. But when packing all of that together constantly it just distracted from what both the conversations Gabe was having and what he was thinking internally. It got to the point where it felt that it was more Ayala speaking to the reader rather than us learning more about Gabe through his own thoughts and words.
This did not take away from the strong character development from Gabe but this is something that also happened in the first issue with Buddy. As we are likely to get more spotlights on other members of the Children of the Atom members we will hopefully see the use of inner monologue toned down. A lot is already accomplished through Buddy and Gabe’s respective dialogue in their spotlight issues. Focusing on dialogue and saving inner monologue boxes for special occasions will make this series even better than it already is.
What does not always work on the art side of things is the civilian scenes. As with the first issue Chang has some consistency problems with drawing the characters out of costume. It does not take away from the pacing of the story but is noticeable when it happens.
Overall: Children Of The Atom #2 keeps the momentum going from the first issue. Developing a greater connection with the members of the team, as we got a spotlight on Cherub’s personal life, was a good choice as it strengthens the connection the reader has with these characters. How the X-Men and Avengers factor into this story added greater interest to see where this series will go next.
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