The X-Men are splitting at the seams with Cyclops and Wolverine starting to square off in Schism. The next big event in the world of the Marvel mutants promises to break down their utopian unity, but is it all just bluster or is it worth the read?
Previously, in X-Men Schism: Cyclops’s attempt at brokering a global Sentinel disarmament deal at the United Nations is stymied when a returned Kid Omega pulls a psychic Wikileaks. Cyclops’s handling of the situation causes no small amount of pouting in Wolverine. Meanwhile, a cadre of overachieving prepubescent youngsters takes control of the Hellfire Club, with a yet unrevealed plan of some malevolent intent.
“You know the drill, people! We hate mutants, blah blah blah. Now bring us your X-Men!”
THE BREAKING POINT?
At the midway point of Schism, precious little schisming has taken place. Wolverine and Cyclops are being snippy with each other, but when aren’t they being snippy? Aside from all the action elements, the story so far has been building a foundation out of the various aspects of their relationship, detailing their mutual respect as well as their constant exasperation with each other. Just how the latter will outweigh the former is yet to be seen.
Certain elements of the story feel a little treadworn; precocious kid geniuses lose a little bit of their novelty when characters like Amadeus Cho and preteen Loki are power players in the Marvel Universe. And having Wolverine take yet another lonely mutant girl under his wing makes him seem less of a gruff uncle and more of a creepy one. But these are small sins, and easily forgiven for the rest of Jason Aaron’s witty, well-written script which make familiar threats like Sentinels and the Hellfire Club seem dangerous again.
Aaron has ratcheted the tension up with each issue, culminating in the masterfully done sequence that caps off issue 3. With most of the X-Men incapacitated by pint-sized Hellclubbers, Cyclops forces Idie (from Generation Hope) to make a choice with drastic consequences. We haven’t seen much of how the other X-Men will align once Scott and Logan have their inevitable split, but issue 4 should deliver on that promise. The main issue between the two is Cyclops’s ends-justify-the-means approach to protecting the mutantdom, while Wolverine is a bit more skeptical.
RUSSIAN ARTIST ROULETTE
Marvel has decided to use a different artist on each issue of Schism to date, and while it might look jarring in the trade, I applaud the decision. It’s a good showcase for each artist’s talents, and to date, my favorite is Daniel Acuña. His art is more stylized than what you see in most Marvel books, and may not be for everyone. It’s very dark and shadowy with a rougher feel than the usual slick style, but it looks good. I would prefer him to work on Uncanny X-Men over Greg Land any day. His backgrounds are lively, his action pops and Acuña brings a fresh, different look to the X-books.
FORGET THE HYPE; IT’S JUST PLAIN GOOD
The Schism miniseries has so far delivered a consistently entertaining, well-thought-out comic book that is just plain fun to read. Schism is ostensibly meant to shake up the world of the X-Men, but Jason Aaron admirably focuses on what’s important. Rather than puffing the book up with bombast and bluster, Aaron writes a strong script with action and character. Like most, I’m fatigued by all the Big Events that promise World-Shaking Changes, and I wish Marvel had treated this story more organically to prevent any kind of hype backlash. Yet amidst all the team shake-ups and renumberings and relaunches, Jason Aaron and his artists have put together a solid story that all X-Fans would do well to check out.
Additionally, this issue features Cyclops zooming around on a jetpack.
X-Men Schism #3 features four Badoon brain slugs, two instances of Namor implying child abuse, one car theft, one broken pinkie, one desiccated fish man and a gun that shoots magnetars. Four out of five stars.