Children of the Atom #1 is published by Marvel Comics, written by Vita Ayala with art by Bernard Chang, colours from Marcelo Maiolo, and letters by Travis Lanham. This comic introduces a new team of mutant heroes, reminiscent of the original five X-Men, consisting of Cherub, Marvel Guy, Cyclops-Lass, Gimmick, and Daycrawler. Their first appearance shows the young mutants battling a super-villain team before being interrupted by the X-Men’s arrival. The five are reluctant to leave their home city for Krakoa. After rejecting the older mutants’ offer, they return to their normal lives as high school students. While the X-Men discuss whether to bring the group to the island or not, things begin to happen at the school that may force the teenagers to decide sooner.
As a first issue, the plot works well. In most #1’s, the civilian life of the heroes is integrated before any indications of powers and heroics are revealed. However, Ayala flips this by showing the characters in action for much of the first half. This hooks the readers, giving them glimpses of both their abilities and personalities. The involvement of the X-Men themselves may create more problems for the young heroes and their personal lives.
The characters in Children of the Atom #1 are brand new. Through just glimpses at them, all five of this small group are fascinating and individualistic. They show the signs of classic teen heroes, having defiance and willingness to do well. The team appears to have been functioning for a while; they have their own costumes and an understanding of their abilities. But they are still raw and capable of mistakes. The chemistry and dialogue hint at their youth, but Ayala also highlights their strength and kindness.
It is very refreshing to have these brand new characters start to be expanded upon. Marvel’s existing heroes are fantastic and well-known, with years of stories left in them, but the chance to see new legacies formed is always exciting. The superpowers in the high school dynamic will never be dull, and Ayala’s writing would not allow that anyway.
Regarding their powers, it will be interesting to see if more explanation is given as to why they reflect the classic X-Men so much. Not just creatively, as it is clear that their similarity exists to create a connection between the past and future, but canonically as well. Otherwise, it is slightly too coincidental that their names and abilities are so reminiscent of these characters. That is not to say all of them are copies; most of them have more of a sidekick feel to them instead of a ripoff.
It should be noted and appreciated that the danger our main characters are in ties into current events within the Marvel Universe. The impact of Outlawed means that it is illegal for young heroes to engage in superhero activities. Not only are they at risk from the villains they go up against, but also from the authorities.
It looks like the actual X-Men will play a large supporting role in this comic. Ayala’s use of what is now a huge entity is both fun and intriguing. The large roster provides huge cameo opportunities. The core team, Cyclops, Wolverine, Jean, etc., have a large scene back on Krakoa. But the scouting team sent to actually pick the children up consists of fan favourites, such as Maggott.
The art within the comic is fantastic. While many of the main team’s costumes are homages to classic looks, each one has been altered to contain some individuality. Cyclops-Lass, real name Buddy, has a suit that is based on Scott Summer’s 90s costume. However, the visor has been adjusted to resemble a bird of prey, much angular than Scott’s. Other costumes have had huge makeovers; Marvel Guy wearing something that appears to be a tribute to a wrestler’s leotard.
Out of costume, Chang designs each member to look just as unique as they do in them. They have features and proportions not often seen in comics. Buddy and her best friend Carmen (Gimmick) look brilliant, but it was the giant basketball player in Gabe (Cherub) that was the most striking. His tall but thin stature is something not often depicted within this genre.
The colours are stunning, helping to capture the energy that the writer and artist are already instilling. The uniforms have bright, vibrant shades that bear similarities to those attributed to classic X-Men. However, the blue of Cyclops-Lass is lighter than Cyclops’, as is the green of Marvel Guy. This may just be because of the colouring palette Maiolo uses, but it does result in the costumes having more differences than their inspirations. Maiolo also excellently depicts the characters’ powers and abilities.
Lanham’s SFX are dynamic and share the same bright colours of the action. This adds to the energy within the page. However, the word balloons and font are too small in some instances.
Children of the Atom #1 is an energetic and exuberant first issue. These brand new characters are easy to like. Whilst they may bear a resemblance to existing mutants, just from a first glance, they are very much individual heroes. The action is fun, displayed by fantastic art that also provides us with unique designs. The readers may already be developing theories as to what may come next after the last page’s reveal, and it may change how the X-Men view this new team of heroes going forward.
Children of the Atom #1 is available where comics are sold.
Children of the Atom #1
Children of the Atom #1 is an energetic and exuberant first issue. These brand new characters are easy to like. Whilst they may bear a resemblance to existing mutants, just from a first glance, they are very much individual heroes. The action is fun, displayed by fantastic art that also provides us with unique designs.