Written By: Vita Ayala
Art By: Paco Medina
Colors By: David Curiel
Letters By: VC’s Travis Lanham
Cover Art By: R.B. Silva, Erick Arciniega
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: July 7, 2021
Children of the Atom #5 unceremoniously lists out the origin of each team member’s powers to explain they’re all just kids cosplaying as their favorite mutants using alien construction tech to simulate having powers. when the COTA (except Daycrawler) are captured by Commander Kruger and her U-Men, it’s up to the real X-Men to save the day.
Was It Good?
Good storytelling always involves one or more characters facing one or more conflicts. The point of a story is to achieve some resolution to those conflicts with as few, confusing questions as possible. The questions started and left unanswered in the story should always be intentional and integral to the story itself.
For example, a mystery. A mystery starts off with at least one big question (“Who did it?”), but the value of the story is not simply jumping to the answer, the point of a mystery is to unravel the conflicts that lead you to the answer. It’s the journey, not the destination.
“Wait,” you say. “Why are you giving us a 30-second writing lecture when this is supposed to be a comicbook review?” you wonder.
Well, it’s important to clarify why this story isn’t good. Chief among many reasons is a complete lack of understanding from the creators about how to structure story, how to introduce question, how and when to answer those questions in service to the story, and making a journey that’s worth taking. In short, the writing in this story is inept and the story has no point.
If there is some saving grace, the art by Medina and the art team looks great.
What’s It About?
We pick up where we left off with the COTA imprisoned, and about to be turned into lab rats (metaphorically speaking) by Commander Kruger and her U-Men. Jay Jay aka Daycrawler was the only team member to get away, so he makes a beeline to the local Krakoan consulate for X-Men assistance.
Before we get too far, let’s talk about the questions.
Are the COTA mutants? And if not, what are they doing? They are not mutants. It’s never explicitly stated, and there’s no discussion or scene to show how they have powers or why the COTA decided to model themselves as knockoff, cosplay version of the X-Men. A question poorly asked and never answered.
If they’re not mutants, where do they get their powers? Despite making a “mystery” about it throughout the entire run to date, all readers get in this issue is (this is not a joke) a one-sheet with bullet points listing each team member, explaining the tech that gives them powers, and the tech’s originally intended purpose. In other words, a PowerPoint slide.
If their powers come from alien tech, where did the tech come from? It possibly has to do with that one scene on a spaceship that crashed to Earth from an earlier issue. Yet, another question that was started badly and left unanswered.
Why do these kids so desperately want to be mutants? Unknown. At best, it comes off as a bizarre form of toxic fandom.
If they’re not mutants and they’re just vigilantes running around with alien weapons, doesn’t Kamala’s Law apply? Yep, and it does by the end of the issue. Readers went the long way round to be taken right back to the Outlawed storyline.
So the COTA really have nothing to do with mutants or the X-Men at all? With one caveat, that’s exactly right.
Back to the story. X-Men save the day. During the fight, some mutant-zapping weaponry confirms to the X-Men that the COTA are human (maybe not quite for Carmen aka Gimmick). The X-Men appreciate the help they’ve provided in the previous issue, but their advice is to tell the COTA to go home.
Now CRADLE is on the hunt for COTA since mutant immunity is off the table.
Later, Storm shows up at the house where the team is hanging out, and she delivers an invitation to Carmen to the Hellfire Gala. Cerebro has confirmed the weird demon shape she transformed into earlier in the series (another poorly asked and unanswered question) is a manifestation of her mutant power.
We conclude the issue with Carmen’s friends in awe over the revelation that she’s a mutant.
This is a well drawn and visually appealing comic, but the story structure and writing borders on incompetent.