This is the penultimate chapter of ‘Battle Of The Atom’, and it pretty much does what penultimate issues are supposed to do, and that’s set up the big finale with a doozy of a cliffhanger.
The issue opens inside of Cyclops’ head, as Jean-Xorn tries to manipulate him, and she pretty much succeeds, buying the Brotherhood time to escape from the school. I liked how Aaron didn’t just have the two sides of the X-Men immediately team up to go after them. The tensions between Wolverine and Cyclops have not gone away, and they argue here, with Wolverine initially not wanting Cyclops’ team to help at all. It would have been easy to have this threat cause everyone to properly reunite, but I’m glad that’s not happening, the X-Men books have been so good lately with all of the ideological and moral splits, I want it to continue.
The Brotherhood (I was surprised to see that Molly Hayes and Xavier weren’t dead, but Xavier was appropriately crippled) and their prisoners, the OG X-Men, are still reeling from the discovery that the Originals can’t be sent back in time, so Future-Beast moves on to Plan B, and that’s to attack Cape Citadel, the military base that Magneto attacked waaaay back in Uncanny X-Men #1, and where the X-Men made their first ever public appearance. This of course draws the attentions of SHIELD, and we get the welcome return of Maria Hill’s hatred of the X-Men, which is always funny.
Before the big battle, Aaron makes time for a small scene between Quentin Quire and his future, Phoenixed-up self, which was good stuff. I don’t feel that Aaron has done as well as Wood has at making sure his own book’s unique tone and characters have been present in the crossover, but this scene made up for it, and so did the fun stuff with the various Icemen.
The X-Men head to Cape Citadel, and another big-ass battle with the Brotherhood begins, and it looks like the X-Men are winning, but it was all a trap. Even with Xorn-Jean as the only one left standing, she is able to use her powers to cause the 3 SHIELD heli-carriers at the scene to open fire against their will, making the X-Men believe they are being attacked by the humans, which doesn’t bode well for the future, dystopian or otherwise.
This was another very enjoyable issue of a fantastic crossover, and it really did feel like a big tribute to 50 years of the X-Men, not only because all of the characters were there, but because it returned to Cape Citadel, and even smaller stuff, like Jean-Xorn’s last line of the issue being ‘hope you survive the experience’. For long-time X-fans, this story has just been a treat, and Aaron has set things up very nicely for the final chapter next week. Giuseppe Camuncoli only provided breakdowns for this issue, and you could kind of tell, things looked a little rushed, but it was still strong stuff, and considering this event has been weekly, a small price to pay, especially since Esad fucking Ribic is drawing the finale.