REVIEW: Children of the Atom #1 Introduces Young X-Men… with a Twist?

Children of the Atom #1 Vita Ayala (Writer), Bernard Chang (Artist), VC’s Travis Lanham (Letters), Marcelo Maiolo (Colours) Marvel Comics March 10, 2021

Children of the Atom #1 follows a group of young heroes as they fight crime, handle school bullies, and decide how they fit into a post-Krakoa world.

Children of the Atom #1

Vita Ayala (Writer), Bernard Chang (Artist), VC’s Travis Lanham (Letters), Marcelo Maiolo (Colours)
Marvel Comics
March 10, 2021

Children of the Atom #1 Vita Ayala (Writer), Bernard Chang (Artist), VC’s Travis Lanham (Letters), Marcelo Maiolo (Colours) Marvel Comics March 10, 2021

I’ve been slowly going through the new X-Men books so I was thrilled to review Children of the Atom #1. Nothing like a first issue to give you a feel of new characters and settings, after all.

What I liked about Children of the Atom was that you don’t need that much context to understand it. The young mutant team includes Cherub, Marvel Guy, Cyclops-Lass, Gimmick, and Daycrawler. They’re very clearly inspired by the X-Men we know and love. Cherub takes after Angel/Archangel and can fly with his metallic wings. Marvel Guy is inspired by Jean Grey, whose original superhero moniker was Marvel Girl. Cyclops-Lass, like Cyclops, has a visor that shoots beams. Gimmick has kinetic abilities like Gambit’s. And finally, Daycrawler, like Nightcrawler, can teleport.

I was concerned that these characters would feel derivative—they literally have the same abilities as established X-characters. But despite the familiar powers, these are young, new characters and they use these abilities in unique ways. I also like that these young mutants encompass the abilities of the OG X-Men and the new wave that followed in later years. It’s a fun mix of abilities and personalities and aesthetically, it looks great during the opening action sequences. All this to say that the characters’ powers felt inspired rather than derivative.

Anyone who’s been reading the new X-Men comics might be wondering why this new team isn’t already in Krakoa and training with the X-Men. Children of the Atom #1 answers one of the questions I had while reading House of X/ Powers of X—what happens to the mutants with non-mutant families? Do they just up and leave them?

I realise that the call to Krakoa isn’t mandatory—but the desire to be with fellow mutants has always been strong in the X-Men comics, especially since human prejudice against mutants constantly increases. In Children of the Atom #1, these teenagers have yet to join Krakoa because they’ve still got lives outside. More importantly, they have family that they don’t want to leave.

Despite that, the Children of the Atom are doing their part for the greater mutant good. We are introduced to them as they take down the Hell’s Belles, a group of depowered mutants who continue to do crime. Action scenes can sometimes feel overwrought or underserved but Children of the Atom does it just right. The stakes are high because these are children going up against seasoned criminals. No one side has the upper hand—they’re evenly matched, which makes the sequence even more engrossing. In the end, it isn’t just hard punches, but wits and teamwork, that helps one side triumph over the other. I’ve got to hand it to the creative team for keeping me engaged in an action scene first up.

Children of the Atom #1 Page 3. Vita Ayala (Writer), Bernard Chang (Artist), VC’s Travis Lanham (Letters), Marcelo Maiolo (Colours) Marvel Comics March 10, 2021
Love a superhero team shot!

Children of the Atom #1 slows down the pace after that exciting opening. We get to learn more about the new characters and how they fit into the human world. They’re high school students dealing with love and friendship: Buddy (Cyclops-Lass) and Carmen’s (Gimmick) friendship mimics the bond between Jean and Storm that we are privy to partway through the book. But they’re also fighting prejudice against mutants in their daily lives—while still hiding who they really are. It’ll be interesting to see how this pans out over the series; living a double life isn’t easy for anyone, let alone teenagers, especially when there’s a new government ruling against young superheroes.

As one gets to the end of Children of the Atom #1, the combination of characters and abilities begins to make more sense. I can’t explain it here because it’s a massive twist—to spoil it would be to ruin the reader’s enjoyment of the story. The final page isn’t just the climax—it’s a fantastic cliffhanger that’s making me desperate to read more. I know this book has been in publishing hell because of the pandemic, and I’m hoping that subsequent issues don’t have the same problem, because I need to know what happens next!

Children of the Atom #1 is a solid start—and with that plot twist, it’s got my attention far more than I anticipated. The art and colors are beautiful and adds to the vibrancy of the story—there’s a ton of detail in the New York fight scenes that had me going back to look at the pages. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book, but the creative team has done a fantastic job in just this one issue of setting up characters and a plotline that subverts expectations. I am excited to read more and find out where that plot twist goes.

Louis Skye

Louis Skye

A writer at heart with a fondness for well-told stories, Louis Skye is always looking for a way to escape the planet, whether through comic books, films, television, books, or video games. E always has an eye out for the subversive and champions diversity in media. Louis' podcast, Stereo Geeks, is available on all major platforms. Pronouns: E/ Er/ Eir