This series doesn’t leave reality at the door and that makes the issue and the overall series all the stronger. A truly compelling and deep issue that really digs into the depths that are offered by the new Krakoan status quo for the X-Line.
Our reality is a constant series of similar and different events that collide against one another, sometimes touching our lives directly, other times just barely grazing those lives. Our fiction is built off of those events and the lived experiences, and sometimes a piece of fiction crafted to reflect particular types of said events comes along at exactly the right time. At this moment that piece of fiction is Children of the Atom.
For as long as they have been around, the X-Men and the characters around them have been used as a means to dive into topics of representation and persecution that is heaped upon every marginalized/minority group of individuals in this society and around the world. Much has changed in the recent era of X-books, they have their own nation and society now, and while books have somewhat touched on some of the deeper issues, there has been something a bit lacking at times. This is no fault of the creative teams because sometimes the correct voice has to step up to bring the message.
Vita Ayala is definitely the correct voice in this particular case, as they hit the proverbial nail right on the head moments into this issue. Using a rotating narrator isn’t always a move that works, but Ayala makes it work (check out Marvel’s Power Pack mini for another book making that move work currently). As a bi-racial (Black and White) man with skin that is clearly not White and hair that looks just like my Black father’s, the things that Gabe mentions about the Black experience in society struck home.
They were things that were all too clear about trying to make it in this society, and the constant assumptions that were levied by society at large just because of one’s appearance. The destructive stereotypes used to hold one back because people do not bother to learn who the person is underneath.
This is a struggle that hits home for so many people within all the various marginalized populations of society. It is part of the messaging of the X-Men that has made that series of books long resonate with marginalized groups more so than other comic books on the stands.
There is a lot of great action within the issue that just further cements who these characters are and what they are willing to do and fulfills the action aspects that are expected of most big market comic books.
All of these moments are brought to life by Bernard Chang and Marcelo Maiolo. While the first issue felt a little off in a few artistic areas, something easily chalked up to the long delay of this book and more than likely changes that were made to it along the way to fit into the X-realm, this issue didn’t have those feelings at all. It was quite solid and many of the panels were some really striking iconic type images, not hard to do when they featured Storm in all her X-Men: The Animated Series/90s era costume glory. Maiolo’s muted color palette choice fits this series more so than a brighter one would since it tackles a lot of heavier topics, more attuned to reality.
The brighter is reserved in some cases for the lettering work of Travis Lanham, namely for the variety of SFX moments surrounding the young heroes’ use of their abilities. Daycrawler/Nighty Nightcrawler BAMFing everywhere gave plenty of moments to drop in a lot of that classic SFX. The change from the ordered dialogue bubbles and caption panels to the more frantic and frenzied ones that come from the youths in the heat of battle is also a really neat touch.
There are still a great number of mysteries surrounding these youths, but the bits and pieces we’re being able to see are engaging and really keeping things moving.
Children of the Atom #2 is on sale now from Marvel Comics in print and digitally.