Welcome to another edition of the Marvel Rundown! After one industry shutdown and a year of delays, Vita Ayala and Bernard Chang’s much-anticipated Children of the Atom is finally here! I’ve been looking forward to this book for a while due to the strong creative team and neat premise… but has it been worth the wait?

We’ve got a review of that book and other books in the Rapid Rundown section, all ahead on this week’s Marvel Rundown!

Children of the Atom #1

Children of the Atom #1

Written by Vita Ayala
Art by Bernard Chang
Colours by Marcelo Maiolo
Lettering by Travis Lanham 
Cover by R. B. Silva and Jesus Aburtov 

As mentioned above, it’s finally here! I’m not sure as to the reasoning behind the year-long delay, but what I do know is that the delays added some fuel to the furnace of hate that a certain section of the comics-reading audience loves peddling. You know, a non-binary writer and a cast of new, young, and diverse characters tend to do that to bigots. Nevertheless, this book is certainly unique. It stands so among the current crop of X-books; Ayala and Chang introduce a group of new characters who seem to model themselves on some of the most famous X-Men, as is evident from the cover alone.

The opening of the book wasn’t a good first impression upon my first reading. You’ve got a group of new characters whose banter and personalities seem the same and are using the same set of powers that existing characters already have, but are not using them any differently than Cyclops or Nightcrawler do.

The real strength of this issue lies in the group’s dynamics out-of-costume, particularly between the characters Buddy and Carmen as they’re who we really get to know in this issue, and in the mystery behind why these kids aren’t hanging out in Krakoa with the rest of the mutant population. I’d rather not get into why this intrigues me at the moment since I don’t want to spoil anything, but it’s certainly a great hook that’ll keep a lot of readers interested, especially since the ending is extremely open-ended. At least to me.

Children of the Atom
From Children of the Atom #1

Chang has been an artist that I’ve long admired, and it’s great to see him move to Marvel and have his talents used appropriately. His style suits that of a younger cast, which proves a detriment when more established characters enter the issue. Characters like Cyclops and Wolverine seem exaggerated in all the wrong ways, with Cyclops a little too lean and with Wolverine a little too scowly for my taste. Despite this, the new characters are all expressive and fun to look at, both in and out of costume. It’s satisfying that this book gets to also look the most unique out of the whole line-up of books. While the first few pages of the book are the most bombastic of the issue and are thus all over the place in terms of panelling and such, the rest of the book has a surprising rigidity when it comes to panelling that actually works quite well given how wordy the book actually is. There are a lot of nine-panel pages and they’re all filled with great conversation scenes. I guess it’s necessarily wordy since these are new characters that Ayala and Chang are creating and they want you to get a sense of their personalities and relationships.

It’s interesting that Ayala is the writer spearheading the, for lack of a better term, “young” group of X-books, with this week’s debut and their and Rod Reis‘ New Mutants, of which I’m not entirely a fan. It’s likely I feel this way because Ayala really spends most of their time with the younger characters in CotA, but splits duties between the young characters and the more established ones like Magik over in New Mutants. In any case, it’s good to see young and diverse characters represented in this line.

I’m giving this a STRONG BROWSE. It may not be for everyone, as it’s worth noting that this issue feels the most traditionally superheroic out of the whole line. Young characters, secret identities, explosive opening action scene with quippy dialogue. All that. Beyond that, I’m super interested in these new characters and look forward to Ayala and Chang exploring the rest of the team in the next few issues.

Final Verdict: STRONG BROWSE.

Children of the Atom
From Children of the Atom #1

Rapid Rundown! 

Children of the Atom

  • Immortal Hulk #44
    • Remember the “Leave Britney alone!” guy? That’s how I feel sometimes reading this book, but with Bruce Banner/The Hulk swapped in for Britney. This issue finds our gamma-emaciated Hulk under attack by the U-Foes, and it’s honestly a pretty brutal read. Al Ewing‘s dialogue conveys both the flip attitude of the Foes and the desperate rage of the Hulk beautifully, and Joe BennettRuy JoséBelardino Brabo, and Paul Mounts render the action — and, of course, the body horror — very effectively. This is an entertaining, briskly-paced comic that had me sad when it was over. —JG
  • Non-Stop Spider-Man #1
    • If you don’t get it right away, there’s a full-page at the back that explains how this book is the visual interpretation of movies like Speed and The Fast and The Furious franchise. And from jump, Joe Kelly takes advantage of Chris Bachalo’s quirky energetic style to work within the constant motion framework that was designed to create a visual language that quickly emphasizes the dramatic “non-stop” action infused with tension. But then the book double clutches, the story loses its stride and this is the problem with Non-Stop as it gets in its own way with the flashbacks which brings the plot to a near stop. I hope that this concept is able to get back up to speed and finish strong. —GC3
  • Taskmaster #4
    • Taskmaster’s penultimate issue keeps the streak of absurd quality that the miniseries has had since its debut going strong. Jed MacKay and Alessandro Vitti‘s strengths as a duo are as present as ever, lending equal importance to genuinely hilarious comedy beats and brutal, bone-crushing action. Where the issue surprises most, however, is with just how pointed some of its jokes are. Swings at comic book tendencies to kill women as well as the US criminal justice system get a bit rowdier than the series’ previous issues and help keep things fresh. Really, it’s one of the best books Marvel has on the market, and you’ve got no excuse for not reading it. —ZT

Next week, Donald Blake’s rampage continues in the pages of Thor, and S.W.O.R.D.!