Last Wednesday saw the release of Battle of the Atom #1, the first part of a 10-part crossover through the various X-Men titles. The first issue is written by Brian Michael Bendis, current scribe of two of the four X-titles it'll run through, with art by Frank Cho, Stuart Immonen, Wade Von Grawbadger and Marte Gracia, and a cover by Art Adams to give it that "big X-Men event" feel.
So how promising was the first issue? Here are a few reviews from around the web:
Doug Zawisza, Comic Book Resources: "Opening with a scene in which an X-Man crosses a line and unleashes chaos, 'X-Men: Battle of the Atom' examines the ramifications of the time-displaced original X-Men. As the writer for both 'All-New X-Men' and 'Uncanny X-Men,' Bendis slides in perfectly as the most appropriate scribe to launch a ten-part crossover that includes "standalone" bookends around the four primary titles in the X-Men corner of the Marvel Universe. The action in this issue focuses on the All-New squad, giving Kitty Pryde a chance to shine as a leader and Bendis an opportunity to identify all of the players involved for the readers. Reading Young Cyclops addressing Kitty Pryde as 'Professor K' isn't going to lose its charm anytime soon, and it only further fertilizes the nostalgic feeling this comic book evokes." (5/5)
James Johnston, Multiversity Comics: "There’s something somewhat problematic about the huge amount of publicity comics do for their events. If you go anywhere online, including our humble site, you’ll hear the basic plot descriptions for any and all comics coming out. As a result, “X-Men: Battle of the Atom” lacks a certain punch due to any prior knowledge the reader has. That said, if you have no idea what Battle of the Atom is about, go buy it right now; it’s actually pretty awesome if you don’t know the twist. But if you do know that the X-Men from the future show up (oh hey it’s in the solicit) then you’re basically buying the solicitation in twenty page format. That’s not inherently bad or anything — the writing is great and Cho, Immonen, and Grawbadger do some really cool art, but it is a little disheartening to have the first major issue of a crossover be an extension of the solicit." (6.1/10)
David Pepose, Newsarama: "The thing I enjoy the most about Battle of the Atom is that it would have been enough just to like these characters. But Bendis also has a nice high concept backing him up - Marvel's time travel motif is in full swing in this series, as we not only see the consequences of the original X-Men in our time period, but we are also introduced to the hardscrabble X-Men of the future. While Bendis plays his cards close to the vest with the X-Men of tomorrow, he shows us just enough to keep us intrigued." (9/10)
Matt D. Wilson, ComicsAlliance: "Bendis handles all the exposition really well, to the point that a recap page, quite frankly, seems redundant. The various hooks or concepts of the teams in the X-books, one of the things that I think has made those comics so readable since Marvel NOW started, are made clear pretty quickly. Cho, who I have to admit isn’t one of my favorite artists, does some really great work on a few dialogue-free pages. We get a new character’s entire backstory ... in just a handful of panels that basically tell us everything we need to know. It’s all totally there on the page. There’s an admirable economy of storytelling, the kind of thing Bendis often has a reputation for doing the opposite of."
Andy Frisk, Comic Book Bin: "The All-Star artistic team of Franch Cho, Stuart Immonen, and Wade Von Grawbadger pull out all the stops and create some of the best looking versions of these X-Men we've seen yet, especially the elder Scott Summers. His new costume finally looks cool here. Their sense of anatomy, fight choreography, and background detail are also impeccable. Like Bendis does with the time travel storyline, these artists manage to breath new life into images that we've seen over and over again within the pages of the X-Books: X-Men battling Sentinels. Watching this team of artists bring to life the massive battle with the Sentinels on one side and both X-Men team factions on the other is, like Bendis' writing, a real treat to behold."
Sean Edgar, Paste Magazine: Bendis is a charming, comfortable scribe who choreographs popcorn fight sequences with dragon-conjuring bombshells and cinematic timing. And he’ll also make you laugh. The author’s take on Iceman’s libido and mischief making is especially endearing. (“A full-blown mutant food fight! You don’t want to see that?”) Artist Frank Cho’s intricate figures and lavish battle scenes are pretty damn spectacular, too. One shot of Kitty Pryde plunging through the air with a katana reinforces the fact that grownups dressed in yellow unitards fighting monsters will never, ever be passé. While this introduction (and it is just an introduction) may not light its panels on fire or keep you up at night, there are far worse ways to spend $3.99 and fifteen minutes. (6.5/10)