Written By: Vita Ayala
Art By: Bernard Chang
Colors By: Marcel Maiolo
Letters By: VC’s Travis Lanham
Cover Art By: R.B. Silva, Jesus Aburtov
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: March 10, 2021
In Children of the Atom #1, we’re introduced to a group of high-school aged teenagers that look like and have superpowers similar to the core X-Men team. They’re a newly assembled team, still getting their superhero legs under them thwarting depowered bank robbers for a start. When their activities catches the eye of Krakoan residents, they’re offered safe passage back to the island; and offer they’ve put off for far too long.
Was It Good?
It was… weird. Bernard Chang’s artwork is excellent. The character designs and general action of the book is some of the best Marvel quality out there, so you will visually enjoy this book.
The writing, specifically the dialog, is very uneven. There are high points and low points – the lowest is the opening team battle. The other aspect to the writing is the story itself, which is bizarre. You clearly get that Ayala is setting up a mystery as to who these teenagers are, but the way it’s presented implies the answer is an unhealthy one. That may or may not appeal to you, but there’s at least enough open questions in this issue to breed curiosity for issue #2.
What’s It About?
We begin with a street corner battle in NYC between a band of bank robbers and a team of supers that look like alternate, teen-aged versions of the X-Men. The team consists of variants of Jean Grey, Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Gambit, and Angel. Let’s call them CoA to make it easier to track.
The CoA beats the robbers clumsily as it seems this is either their very first crimefighting outing or close to it. After leaving the tied up robbers for the police, the COA is approached by Pixie, Magma, and Maggot on a recon mission from Krakoa. The Krakoan mutants offer to bring the CoA back to the island for asylum, but the CoA hesitantly refuses.
A note about the writing up to this point. The snappy banter between the robbers and the CoA was very clunky, disjointed, and lacking in authenticity. The opposing teams were talking at each other rather than with each other, and it made for a very stiff reading experience. Thankfully, the dialog significantly improves after this opening scene.
On the Moon’s Summers House, the X-Men discuss the discovery of the CoA and how to handle the situation. The X-Men waffle between simply talking to the teens again to convince them to come back to Krakoa and outright considering kidnapping. Ultimately, Storm takes the lead in having a thorough talk with the CoA, if they can be found. Cerebro is unable to locate them on any scan.
Cut to a High School basketball scrimmage and most of the CoA is talking about the typical teenager troubles, dealing with a stereotypical bully, and living the average teenager life. Through the dialog and Buddy(Cyclops-Lass)’s inner monologue, we learn she’s secretly in love with Gabe (Cherub aka Angel) who is already in a relationship with (Gimmick aka Gambit). This revelation has no relevance to the rest of the story, so presumably it will matter in a future issue.
We end the issue with the CoA suiting up after hours to head to Krakoa unescorted. And that’s it. Plot-wise, there’s not much meat to this first issue. It’s all setup and character development that opens up a laundry list of questions to answer in future issues. You might be thinking (as this reviewer is)…
Wait! What? Are they mutants or not?
They are not.
How do you know?
You can’t fool Krakoa.
The solicit for this issue says they’re sidekicks. Sidekicks to who?
That description is misleading. It would be more accurate to call them cosplayers.
If they’re not mutants, where do they get their powers?
It’s not explained.
If they’re not mutants, and the world hates mutants, whey are thy dressed like the X-Men?
It’s not explained.
Do they want to go to Krakoa?
Yes. Very, very, very badly.
If they’re not mutants, why do they want to go to Krakoa so badly?
It’s not explained.
Children of the Atom #1, has excellent art and is certainly a different kind of X-Men story. Despite a bumpy start, the writing settles into decent levels as the issue progresses, and the story opens up many questions that put a lot of pressure on future issues to pay off.