Writer Brian Wood, along with artist David LÃ³pez, takes the controls for the latest installment of “Battle of the Atom” in “X-Men” #6, but doesn’t let that impede his own ongoing storyline too drastically. As custodian of this chapter, Wood manages the delicate dual tasks of not only furthering the event storyline that crosses paths with his own title, but also advancing his book’s native plot. In fact, there’s a critical development in “Battle of the Atom” this issue, and it ties into one of the regular characters of the series; probably the last character most its readers would expect to see much happen with.
Wood’s entry, in fact, is a nice change of pace from many of the previous chapters; the dialogue is tighter, most noticeably, and the story is a little more focused. The nature of the future X-Men that were introduced earlier on is clarified, which is a welcome reveal to anyone struggling with the ever-increasing multiple incarnations of the team featured in the story. This is especially true for any innocent and unwary readers who picked up this issue unaware that they were walking right into the middle of a multi-title mutant crossover event.
There are a couple of scenes that might make non-regulars scratch their heads momentarily, although such lapses have long been common to those who read some X-Men titles and not others. A mention that Jubilee had become a vampire at some point a while back, for instance, would be gone a long way to explaining what appears to be some pretty odd dental work in a couple of panels. Knowledge beforehand that Wolverine had lost his healing powers earlier in his own title would have made his future son’s attack on him a little more meaningful. In fact, why the kid didn’t absolutely freak upon realizing that he might have killed his father before his own birth appears to be an outright goof.
Just as Wood manages multiple storylines, LÃ³pez manages a somewhat cluttered cast, half of which was only recently introduced and is therefore unfamiliar. Choreographing and wielding the roster of a team book artistically is an often under-appreciated skill, but LÃ³pez handles it about as well as most artists. The inkers get a little lazy, though, as they often choose to simply omit the faces of some characters shown from a distance, but not others. Collectively, the art team has more success when the action is closer and up front rather than from afar.
“X-Men” #6 succeeds as both an installment of the regular series and the event that it got dragged into, and while it’s not the strongest entry in either, it gets the job done and even shakes things up a little.