One thing I noticed while reading X-Men, especially the second of the two early issues, was that scenes detailing a lot of action seem to disregard the concepts of time and space. On page 204, for instance, everything in the large semi-splash panel looked like it was occurring simultaneously. I couldn’t figure out if there was a specific direction I was supposed to read the dialogue in: Do I read from left to right? Do I read clockwise? Does it even matter? I decided that ultimately it didn’t really matter that much since no one piece of action was more important to the overall plot than another.

The solid blue background, which doesn’t accurately represent the forest background the X-Men and the Avengers are fighting in, contributes to the nonexistent sense of time in this panel. It’s hard to tell where anything is happening relative to something else. Instead, all that action seems to be centered in a single area, even though that is likely not the case.

I think the takeaway here is that superhero comics such as X-Men (and Superman as well, as we saw) tend to emphasize the presence of action more so than the actual action itself. Because there is so much going on in this panel without any clear sense of linear time or direction, the reader understands primarily that the X-Men and the Avengers are fighting against each other. What in particular Angel does to Thor or what Iron Man says to Iceman are mostly irrelevant. We know that there is conflict, though, and that is enough for us to move the plot forward in our minds. I’m not saying that the panel is useless or doesn’t deliver the payoff it’s intending, but I think it’s exists more symbolically than as a panel that needs to be followed very closely.