Children of the Atom continues to flesh out its deeply relatable cast of young characters, building its own solid found family that all have their own feelings, thoughts, issues, wants, and goals while still being true to themselves and one another. The art continues to hit all the right notes from both the heavily emotional moments to the action-packed ones, every aspect fitting together like a piece in a glorious puzzle. Just another solid series that proves that teenage-led books not only can work at Marvel but do work and need to stick around long-term with solid creative teams like this.
There is a party on Krakoa (well not actually Krakoa but another island to be specific) but the young mutant fan characters of Children of the Atom have a lot of not-so-fun party things to deal with.
Switching narratives is a tool that isn’t used very often because it’s one that can go quite wrong rather quickly or fall very flat. That’s not the case with this series, as Vita Ayala has been using it quite wonderfully to give depth and insight to each of these new characters. This month’s issue dives into the pessimistic, protective, and somewhat angry seeming Benny/Marvel Lad. Just like the issues with Buddy/Gabe/Carmen, there is probably a lot of Benny’s feelings and experiences that resonate a lot with readers.
Personally, the feelings of just wanting to be left alone and feeling replaceable but also wanting the best for those you do care about resonated big time. It is often hard for books about fully new characters to catch on because of all the building that has to be done to make the characters work and be known, but Ayala makes it seem quite easy here. They fully know who these characters are they created and how to write them in realistic ways that capture a lot of not just the human experience but the teenage experience.
There is still a big mystery around these kids and what happened in regard to them and how they fully got to this point, but the pieces are coming together more and the overall package is engaging. At this point, the ambiguity about whether the kids were mutants or not has been fully dropped, outside of what might be up with Carmen after the last issue, as we see more about them learning to use the devices that replicate powers and start to gel.
The series has a rather quick art change very shortly into its launching, with Bernard Chang seemingly off the series after issue two (perhaps because of the long, long delay before this book launched), but has kept on chugging on fantastically. Paco Medina, David Curiel, and Travis Lanham are doing stellar work here as the character moments and the fights and other action all just pop and flow.
As these are teenagers there are tons of emotions and emotional moments, and they are easy to tell not just by the dialogue but by the great facial and body expression work. There are a lot of really great detailed things such as the background pieces of Benny’s room or the power usage flashback or in the great fight scenes. Curiel’s color palette choices that mix bright and dark together depending on the context mix well with Medina’s style.
Lanham is a master at making sure that the dialogue lettering flows and drifts around the action, but also at making the SFX lettering be so prominent and tactile in the scene without taking away from anything. At the same time, every single one of the SFX elements looks and feels different, just like how every sound feels quite different in reality.
One thing this era has been really great at is incorporating elements of the X-Men’s past in new and interesting ways, and this series keeps that going. The U-Men were definitely a unique element of Grant Morrison’s time in the X-Line, and here Ayala brings them back for a modern era. It makes perfect sense that there would be a resurgence of people that want to take mutant body parts for themselves to be powered in this new bold Krakoan era. It’s also a very fitting juxtaposition with the kids in their own way trying to take from mutants (without actually taking) because they want to belong somewhere like the mutant nation.
Children of the Atom #4 is now on sale from Marvel Comics in print and digitally.