Wolverine and the X-Men #36

I have to give the "Battle of the Atom" storyline credit; it's the halfway point and the story still feels like it's moving at a brisk pace. "Wolverine and the X-Men" #36 could have easily been at the point where things began to get predictable, but instead Jason Aaron and Giuseppe Camuncoli have unleashed a new set of surprises with which to fuel the second half of the crossover.

The bulk of "Wolverine and the X-Men" #36 is devoted to the face-off between the three teams of X-Men (past, present, future) and Aaron as a lot of fun with that. There are some great sparks of dialogue (especially in the battle between Emma Frost, the Cuckoos and the two Jean Greys), and I like that it's kept light and inventive from start to finish. It's not until the end of the issue that "Wolverine and the X-Men" #36 starts to show its teeth, and that's where most readers will sit up a bit in their chairs.

Up until now, it's been a safe assumption that the Future X-Men haven't been giving the full story, and that there was a little more packed into "Battle for the Atom" than readers had initially thought. This is where the proverbial penny drops, and I like the two-part revelation that's starting to unfold; first from Deadpool, and then from Magik's expedition. It feels like Aaron (and the rest of his "Battle of the Atom" co-plotters) have timed it just right, so that it happens at a natural point in the overall story. It's a fun little twist, and one that keeps the momentum moving forward into the second half.

It was a nice surprise to see Camuncoli providing pencils here; I've always liked his clean style, and he and finisher Andrew Currie turn in some handsome pages. Jean's pensive look as she tells Scott, "We don't belong here," is dynamite, for example. I love the way that she grasps his hand as she does so, and the just slightly furrowed brow. For that matter, check out the line-up of Emma, Jean and the Cuckoos against the other Jean. Even as all five are struggling, look how they all have slightly different expressions run across their faces. It's a careful and thoughtful approach to the scene, one with which other artists might have easily dashed out the same look for all five characters.

A ten-part crossover runs the risk of losing steam by the halfway point, and credit where it's due: that hasn't happened yet with "Battle of the Atom." "Wolverine and the X-Men" #36 has shown us that there are still some surprises in store, and that it's got the gas to go the full distance.

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