Today, Taylor and Shelby are discussing X-Men 6, originally released October 9th, 2013. This issue is part of the Battle of the Atom event. Click here for our complete coverage of Battle of the Atom.
Taylor: You guys, we’re all getting older. Most of the time, it’s pretty easy for me to pretend that I’m not and that instead I’m ageless, but occasionally something happens that reminds me I will eventually bow to the forces of Father Time. Like many my age (29), my facebook feed is quickly becoming filled with pictures of weddings — followed a year later by pictures of babies. Just to be clear: this means that people my age are having children. They are completely responsible for the life of another human being. That seems terrifying to me, mostly because I can’t imagine taking on such a huge responsibility in my life. But then I realize that I’m almost 30, a perfectly normal age to have kids, and that despite my best efforts I haven’t escaped our temporal universe. Then I wonder if a time will ever come when I feel ready to have kids. I have to wonder because — to my eyes — having kids seems like a lot more trouble than it’s worth, even though everyone says having them is totally rewarding. Does it make sense that X-Men 6, part of the Battle of the Atom event, could change my opinion?
The X-Men of the present along with the Un-X-Men of the future are bringing three of the X-Men from the past back to the Jean Grey school to banish them to their proper time period. Logan is suspicious of the Un-X-Men (who we already know are probably evil) and as it turns out his doubts about their intentions are justified when they attack the present X-Men and take over the Jean Grey school. Along the way, we meet a shape-shifter claiming to be Wolverine’s son and as the X-Men of the future arrive in the present, we are introduced to Shogo from the future.
The idea of children and parents predominates this issue, even though the issue is mostly steeped in action. Perhaps the most interesting revelation about this subject is the discovery that Kitty Pride is actually a blue skinned shape-shifter claiming to be Logan’s son.
Now just who this guy is, is anyone’s guess. After some cursory internet sleuthing and interrogation of some fellow Retcon-Punchers I couldn’t find anything to suggest this is a character we have seen before. However, I can certainly make some assumptions about his origins. The blue skin and orange hair he’s seen sporting is the visual calling card of everybody’s favorite shape-shifter, Mystique. Given that he has these traits, along with some Wolverine-like claws, I think we can safely assume he is the offspring of Logan and Mystique. It’s interesting to consider what events will take place in the future to bring Wolverine and Mystique together as lover,s but frankly that’s far too much conjecture at this point. Additionally, who can say why this guy hates his dad so much. Again, we’re operating in the realm of assumption here, but it seems likely that Mystique had some not-so-nice things to tell her son regarding his father. Still, the possibility that Logan is a deadbeat dad in the future is as plausible as his son being lied to by Mystique, so the motivations for this character are shrouded in mystery, making him an interesting twist to this time traveling tale.
On the other end of the filial spectrum we get the reveal that the Iron-Man looking X-Man is named Sentinel X and that he is Shogo, Jubilee’s son. The greeting Jubilee receives from her child is far different from the one Logan if gifted with. Instead of getting stabbed in the gut, Jubilee is met with a heartwarming hug and it’s clear that Shogo has nothing but love for his mother. There are hints dropped in the dialogue that reveal Shogo was raised by Jubilee and it seems like she must have done a decent job doing so, seeing as he’s an X-Man and all and doesn’t want to stab her. I didn’t see this reveal coming at all, and when I read it I couldn’t help but laugh for the sheer fun this event has become. I was afraid this title was destined for a quagmire of time-travel etiquette and X-Men guilt but in this issue, along with the previous, author Brian Wood has let the throttle go and opened the title up to some good fun. Shogo’s appearance is the epitome of this fun as it is both unexpected and perfectly at home in this event.
Adding to my enjoyment of the event is the loose reins with which Wood has treated the story up to this point. Instead of dictating to the reader what exactly the future holds, he allows us to form ideas on our own about what will happen between the present and future. Again, Shogo is a perfect example of this. As a baby he is given a device that when pressed encapsulates him in a floating, protective ball. Then, as an adult he wears some fun armor.
It’s a convenient parallel that is on display here. Both the infant and adult Shogo rely on technology to give them additional power. Instead of making an explicit connection between the two, Wood lets us fill in the gap ourselves. By doing this we get to imagine what Shogo’s life has been like and what role technology has played in it. Heck, maybe he was the one who employed the Sentinels for use by the future X-Men!
And this same formula can be applied to Wolverine’s son of course and that’s why I’ve come to really enjoy this event. Instead of trying to do or explain too much, it has hit a sweet spot that is thoroughly entertaining in its insinuations and its plot. At the same time it tells me maybe kids are great because they’ll rescue you from evil and maybe they’re awful because they’ll stab you. What do you think, Shelby? Kids or no? Do you enjoy the vagueness of Wood’s story or do you want more information? Any guess as to what the Un-X-Men’s motivations are?
Shelby: Kids who stab you in the gut are the worst. I loved the Son of the Wolverine reveal, but think about this: our shapeshifting bundle of murder looks to be of an age with Shogo, if not a little bit older. That means that kid has probably already been born. Ponder that with your mind grapes.
The idea of children and parenting is an interesting one to carry through this whole event. The X-Men have been known as “The Children of the Atom,” and all my experience of the team has been within the context of the School for Gifted Youngsters. Because mutants tend to manifest their powers as teenagers, taking care of children has always been a core tenant of the team’s mission. All the authors of this event have taken that idea and twisted it around; time travel means present day X-Men can act as parents for younger versions of their peers, X-Men from the future can act as parents to younger versions of themselves, and children of present day X-Men can interact with their parents in the past as well as their younger selves. That’s a lot of complicated levels of parenting, but Wood brings our focus in tight on the relationship between parent and child. With the Atom event going on, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact this title started about six months ago with Jubilee adopting that baby. Shogo and his new mama have been the focal point of this issue from day one, and Wood folds that seamlessly into Brian Michael Bendis’s Battle of the Atom.
I continue to be impressed with how good this event has been. As many of you know, I am typically not a fan of crossover events; so often I feel they force me to pick up books that aren’t great which I wouldn’t read otherwise but now feel I have to. This event, though, has been a total blast from issue one. The time travel has been both light-hearted enough to be enjoyable to read but serious enough to create some tension. The four titles have come together very well to tell this story while retaining their own voices. Most importantly, there are only three issues left, and I still don’t really know what’s going on. I think the Un-X-Men lashed out after Allison Blaire was killed, and became a splinter terrorist group like Old Scott’s team is now, and wanted to go back in the past to undo that? Honestly, I have no idea; this story could go virtually anywhere from this point, and I would not see it coming.
For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to Comixology and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?