Thursday, September 12, 2013

Review - X-Men #5

X-Men #5

Review by Paul Steven Brown

Writer: Brian Wood
Penciler: David Lopez
Inker: Cam Smith
Colorist: Laura Martin
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Cover: Arthur Adams

Battle of the Atom continues to be an unconventional X-Men crossover. While this does involve the casts of four separate titles, this is currently an era of Marvel Comics in which there is large cross-pollination of characters between books. No longer is it just Wolverine starring in multiple titles; now mainstays such as Storm, Kitty Pryde, Beast, and Iceman are heavily featured in more than one book. Sometimes even three or four. Just about every member of the squad that is normally featured in Brian Wood's adjectiveless X-Men are regular cast members in other books. Jubilee has even been making an appearance in Astonishing X-Men as of late. 

As a result, this event doesn't necessarily have that "bringing-many-teams-to-fight-one-threat" felling like most crossover events. Added the strong ties of All New X-Men and Uncanny X-Men, thanks to sharing the same writer, Brian Bendis, the coalescence of mutants feels even more natural. Given Wood's penchant for strong character interaction and development, his scripting feels fairly organic following Bendis' two issues of the crossover.

While this feels like a smooth integration into the rest of the bigger story, Wood still finds time for nods towards his own title's internal development, as well. What makes this really work is that a Rachel Summers focused scene adds to both the consequences of the event's story as well as informing the threads weaving with in the newly relaunched X-Men.

Something else that has struck me is that there is no real "big bad". No Sinister. No Apocalypse. No Stryfe. No Bastion. There's Magneto, but he's on the good side these days. We've been introduced to the X-Men from the future, but so far their motivations seem rooted in an altruism to save the future by healing the past. This could all change in few short issues.

As for the visuals, this is without a doubt the best drawn issue I've ever seen from David Lopez. I've liked his work before this issue and his work has continued to develop rather quickly over the last two years in New Mutants and previous volume of this book. I really appreciated Lopez's work last issue in X-Men #4, but nothing has been as elegant as this issue. The facial expressions add so much to Wood's words and the sequencing is marvelous. Of course, having industry veteran Cam Smith on the inks can only accentuate brilliance David Lopez's pencils.

Battle of the Atom keeps on rolling forward. It's not a thrill-a-minute nail-biter, but what it lacks intensity, it makes up in great character work and gorgeous art. So far, so good. Let's bring on the fourth chapter.

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