I give up. We’re barely six-months into Marvel Comics X-Men franchise revival event – the Dawn of X – and by June of this year, we will have nearly 15 ongoing titles on the shelves. Of course, I’m assuming none of the current six get the ax before then – Fallen Angels is curiously missing from solicits.
Recently, Marvel announced yet another book – Children of the Atom. Set to launch sometime in April of this year, it is helmed by one-time X-Men writer, Vita Ayala. Although, they are using R.B. Silva’s talents for the debut cover, art for the book will be handled by Bernard Chang.
I’ll be honest with you. I didn’t immediately recognize either name. Ayala is currently working on the Morbius book – a title I didn’t even know was a thing – and formerly wrote the Prisoner-X miniseries (Age of X-Man). Although I was not familiar with his name, I am acquainted with Chang’s work over at rival publisher, DC Comics. That’s about it, in terms of my personal knowledge of the creative team.
As for the book, at first glance, it appears to have something of a star-studded cast in Angel, Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Jean, and Gambit. That is until you see a second image starring five completely different characters. Each using some of the former’s design cues and gimmicks such as Cyclops’ visor or Gambit’s cards.
Speaking with Marvel.com Ayala described the team as ‘sidekicks’ of the X-Men. Which, you know, makes no sense.
She explained the idea came from editor Chris Robinson, “The initial seed of the idea actually came from [editor] Chris Robinson: What if the X-Men had sidekicks?”
Ayala added, “MY take on it became, what would actual kids from our current time be like if they were X-Men sidekicks? What would Gen Z X-Men be like?”
“I have never known a world without mutants and the X-Men, and to be able to create characters that would become part of the canon is WILD. I love them very much. Bernard, Chris, and I have worked so hard on them, and I was practically itching to let them out into the world so others could love them too.”
‘Wild’ is right. What’s described here sounds more like high-level fanfiction, but Chang is an uber-talented artist. So, at least it’ll be a pretty book.
“What makes the new cast special to me is that they are reflective of a lot of people I know who look up to what the X-Men stand for, and have taken it upon themselves to further those ideals. These kids are exactly the kids who, in real life, have posters of Storm and Wolverine in their rooms, who grew up seeing them as heroes and want to live up to that.”
Confusing, that is until you take into account what we learned during last summer’s Powers of X and House of X. During Moira’s 9th life, Mister Sinister was allowed to develop a fighting-force of designer mutants to make war against their Sentinel and Human foes.
The first generation of these mutants were basically copies of just one mutant in terms of their powers. According to Powers of X #1 data pages, they were often called “fodder.” Later, Sinister was able to create ones with a blend of two or more power sets. These subjects were dubbed Chimera. I believe the ones in question were the former – the single powered ones.
Armed with powers garnered from previous generations of powerful mutants, they were put through a meat grinder of war that lasted at least a hundred years. If this group is indeed constructed of these fodder-class soldiers, the story is probably going to be more on the tragic side.
This practice went on for years until Sinister sabotaged his Mars breeding pits, which resulted in their destruction. He was later publicly executed by the same human forces he attempted to defect to.
The Chimera (and ‘fodder’) were not mindless fighting machines. They were living, breathing people. They knew what they were and where they came from. Chances are, to keep up morale, they were more than likely fed a measure of propaganda.
It wouldn’t be out of bounds to ensure they looked at the X-Men as heroes. Which would explain how they grew up with ‘posters of Storm and Wolverine in their rooms’. Otherwise, this book is going to be utter nonsense.
If my theory holds, it would all make sense. Realistically, I doubt Marvel would hand over a roster of this caliber to such a ‘no-name’ writer. However, there’s little to no risk by giving Ayala a book populated by venerable one-off characters with a predetermined fate (hint: they all die or are sent to deep space as Shi’ar slaves/ refugees).
After learning the book wasn’t what it immediately appeared to be, I wasn’t too interested. Now, I’m intrigued. Go figure. What do you think about Children of the Atom? Is it enough for you to fork over yet another $3.99 a month? Let us know below.