One year after the events of Second Coming the new X-Men event is here in X-Men: Schism. Unlike previous X-Men events, Schism is a event where, like many events, the main story will be told in a mini-series with the other X-books tying into this main series. Also, this event is not only going to be written by Wolverine scribe and one of the Marvel Architects, Jason Aaron, but promises five different all-star artists working on each issue. The artist joining Aaron for the first issue is Carlos Pacheco.
The premise of Schism is something that has highly intrigued me as I am more of a fan of the X-Men when we have separate Mutant factions and that is what this event looks to leading towards. The other part of this event that has me excited is the fact it is written by Jason Aaron. Followers of the Revolution will know that I am a big fan of Aaron, especially his Wolverine work. He has shown to have a fantastic hand at writing Wolverine and the guest starring X-Men in that book and I am highly looking forward to seeing how Aaron handles his first big event after what he has shown in Wolverine and Astonishing Spider-Man and Wolverine. Enough talk. Let’s see how X-Men: Schism #1 turns out.
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Carlos Pacheco
Inker: Cam Smith
Colorist: Frank D’Armata
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Coming back from a mission involving what looks to be ninjas, Wolverine arrives on the island to be met by Hope and her team. She tells Wolverine that Scott said he is in charge of their combat class. Wolverine pulls out one of the arrows from his shoulder and says “Class dismissed” and walks away.
Wolverine gets to his room. Just as he is about to get some long overdue sleep, Cyclops walks in. He tells Wolverine he needs him to join him in attending the International Arms Control Conference in Switzerland and that he can sleep on the plane ride home. (You would think that having the fastest healing factor in comics would mean Wolverine wouldn’t need sleep at all.)
Cyclops and Wolverine arrive at the conference. As the two make it down to the conference hall they talk about how they hated each other. Cyclops says that he believes people can always change. Wolverine agrees.
Wolverine notices that the President of the United States is at the conference and Cyclops says he probably did not want to show up since the US is the most open about having Sentinels in their country. Cyclops thanks Wolverine for coming with him. Wolverine says he would not be with Scott if he did not think he was worth following. (With Jean out of the way Scott and Logan can reveal their true feelings for one another. You can feel the bromance radiating from the pages.)
Cyclops begins his speech by saying that he is there that even though in the war against mutants millions have died but he is not there to discuss the past but a better future for everyone, human and mutant.
As Cyclops is making his speech, a man with pink hair walks into the building and forces the security guards to fight one another.
Cyclops continues his speech by saying that he will volunteer the X-Men’s sources to help dismantle all of the Sentinels around the world to insure peace. One of the diplomats stands up and is offended that Cyclops is accusing his, and everyone else’s, country of harboring Sentinels even though he has no proof. Cyclops and the diplomat have a back and forth about the subject until the same man from before walks into the room.
The shoot pans out to reveal it is Kid Omega. Though Cyclops and Wolverine try to reach Kid Omega before he does anything they are unable to do so and Kid Omega uses his powers on everyone in the conference hall. While Cyclops and Wolverine had psychic blocks to block Kid Omega’s powers the rest of the room isn’t as lucky. Because of that every diplomat in the hall reveals their darkest secrets.
After the effects wear off, the security calls for Protocol X, which involves releasing the Sentinels taking the two X-Men down. Just as Cyclops and Wolverine reach the exit they are met by the Sentinels. Though they are outnumbered, the two veteran X-Men are able to make quick work of the army of Sentinels in front of them.
Just as they finish, Kid Omega appears on every TV screen across the world. He declares that he will add more fuel to the fire and that his mutant brothers and sisters should continue watching for what happens next. Cyclops stops Wolverine from going after Kid Omega as he is interested in what happens next.
Back outside the conference, arms manufacturer Carlton Kilgore dodges all reporters and stays in a private flying car with his son, Kade Kilgore. Carlton asks his son why he isn’t in school. Kade replies by saying he is or at least his Life Model Decoy is. Kade then pulls out a gun on his father and informs him that his employ driving the car, Bessy, works for him. He then proceeds to say he is the new Kilgore CEO and shoots his dad out the door, killing him in the process.
In Utopia, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Magneto and Namor discuss Kid Omega’s escape and wonder how he got out. Wolverine not wanting to be part of the conversation instead runs into Kitty Pride who hands him a package. Wolverine then heads into the kitchen and finds Idie. He hands her the package containing a doll for her to play with. He then joins her in eating some ice cream.
Back in the meeting of the four X-Men, Hope walks and Cyclops tells Hope she can be part of the meeting. Just as she enters a report comes out on the TV showing that every nation in the world is having Sentinels guard their borders.
Wolverine and Idie walk in to see the report and Cyclops tells Idie to see this, even though Wolverine does not agree. As the report ends, Cyclops says they should take action. Storm walks in and says that all these countries have yet to fire a shot. Cyclops disagrees and says they should not blink when a gun has been held to their face.
In a secret location, Kade meets with people in robes sitting around a long table. Kade reveals that he is the one that released Kid Omega from confinement and that everything is going according to his plan. Because he was successful they welcome Kade into the Hellfire Club as the new Black King. End of issue.
The Good: When you need to kick off an event that should be new reader friendly and continuing long term plot lines that fans have been following X-Men: Schism #1 is the perfect example of how to do it correctly. For his first big event, Jason Aaron absolutely nails what the job of the first issue of an event should be. Aaron presents a giant scope for the story but keeps a key focus on the characters that are most important, the X-Men and the new Hellfire Club.
As I said, when it comes to first issues Aaron delivers. Throughout the issue he provides the reader plenty of information that you never feel lost. Aaron’s writing is so spot on that all a reader really needs to know is that most of the mutants, including Magneto and Namor, now live on an island named Utopia and that Cyclops is the leader. Outside of that there is not much an X-Men fan that has been away from the franchise for a while needs to know. This is where the intro paragraph Marvel uses in the first page when the reader first opens works perfectly because that intro provides the reader the basic concept of what has been going on.
At the same time, Aaron smartly seamlessly plugs in the various sub-plots into the story that long time readers will enjoy. Throughout the issue the interactions we get between Cyclops, Hope, Wolverine and others is given a certain layers that long time readers will smile about. With his past work on Wolverine it is clear that Aaron understands how to write each X-Men character as he captures each character’s unique voice.
Aaron does a great job of showcasing the X-Men as characters that have seen a lot of evolution over the years. It is something that I very much appreciate because, even though I have not followed the X-Men on an ongoing basis for the past couple years, the characters showed that they have grown a lot over the years. Too often in events writers like to strip characters from what has happened to them so they go back to their original voice. As a reader, I know characters are always evolving, or at least evolving how only comic book characters can.
Characters like Cyclops and Wolverine, especially, are given an aura that they have gone through a lot and that it has strength both of them to be who they are. With both these characters we get various scenes were we see how each character has been harden and soften due to what has happened.
Though it was only one panel, I loved the insertion of a panel from the X-Men’s history to show Scott and Logan started off as not trusting one another. It gives more meaning to Scott having Logan be the only one to come with him to a world conference that is highly important to the X-Men. Scott could have easily brought Emma or Magneto but he choose Logan because he knows that Logan is someone that he can trust.
At the same time, Aaron showed Logan as someone even when disagreeing with the X-Men leader he understands that Scott is the one to lead them. Due to going through hell and back with Scott in all the X-Men events Logan knows Scott is the only one to lead them in the current status quo.
But with all that trust Aaron shows between Scott and Logan he has done a good job presenting why the teased schism between the two most well known X-Men will happen. The interesting thing about the whole thing is that Aaron does a lot to play up the Xavier and Magneto qualities both characters have going for them right now. Both characters are showing themselves to be a mix of the former heads of the mutant race but there are a few key differences Aaron displays for both characters.
For Scott, Aaron shows that as the leader of the entire X-Men and the one everyone in the world looks at as the face of the mutants that Scott has become more like Magneto. Though Scott shows some signs of still following Xavier’s teachings he has become much more willing to fight directly. Even though characters such as Storm and Wolverine object to what Scott says they should do. He is even willing to show the young what is going on even though it may be a bit too dark for a 14 year old to see.
The most interesting choice Scott makes in this issue that did have me raised an eye brow was telling Wolverine not to follow Kid Omega. It was a character move that at first you would think would be uncharacteristic for Cyclops but after reading the issue and seeing the weight he carries it is understandable with the reaction it got.
On the other hand, we had Logan who Aaron shows that as a character Logan tries to portray the tough guy killer Wolverine but he has turned soft. After years of being around the X-Men and having trained so many young mutants like Kitty and Jubilee he has become someone that understands others feelings. Even with having to juggle being on five different teams he still has a sense of responsibility to the X-Men. Though he serves as an Avenger, that is just a team to him, his real family is on Utopia with the X-Men.
Aaron also does a great job showing that Logan, more so than anyone, understands what it means as young person to deal with dark times. His interactions with Hope, Kitty and the new mutant Idie show that he is trying to give them some sort of feeling they can be kids still. The scene between him and Idie hit the right note of showing Logan as becoming the Xavier of the X-Men even if Logan doesn’t know it or admit it.
On the villain side of things, Aaron has built up quiet a wall for the X-Men to overcome as they have to deal with not only the world’s governments having Sentinels but the rise of a new Hellfire Club. As was shown in Messiah Complex and Second Coming, having to deal with just one group is tough for the X-Men. However, now they literally have the whole world and their mom against them. Being up against all these odds is the type of thing that gives turns a regular comic book story into an event as the heroes are up against unwinnable odds.
Even though it was shown that the X-Men know how to deal with the Sentinels the battle won’t be that easy for them. The battle Aaron has presented the X-Men with in Schism is much more about politics than it is about fighting mutant killing robots. Whether it is Cyclops or Wolverine leading the charge, the X-Men will have to be much more careful than before as they are being watched by everyone not just one sector of the government like before.
At the same time, the X-Men will have to face the challenge of the new Hellfire Club and the geniuses Black King Kade Kilgore. Even though Kade is a new character and is only 12 years old, Aaron was still able to immediately show him to be a highly dangerous villian. Aaron did not waste any time showing how this kid will show no mercy to his opponents and will be one step ahead of everyone else. Having this new character builds a sense of mystery of not only who he is but also how the new Hellfire Club will handle things and who is a member.
For his part, Carlos Pacheco provided the proper big event art you expect to see. He does an exceptional job with the characters facial expressions. Each characters reactions’ fit with what is being said on the scenes. He also does a solid job with the little action scenes he is given. With Pacheco being known for drawing strong action sequences I wish he would have been given more action sequences. I also like that Pacheco drew Wolverine much shorter than he has looked in the past couple years. The character looked like the short guy with an attitude problem.
The Bad: Though I enjoyed all the character work Aaron was able to provide, I still thought that there should have been more time given to the rest of the X-Men. With characters such as Emma Frost, Magneto, Namor and Xavier all on Utopia I want to see more of their reaction to what is going on. They all more or less stood around and just followed what Cyclops and Wolverine were doing. As Schism moves along it is important that we what other X-Men characters think about what is going on if the event is going to be a success.
Overall: X-Men: Schism #1 was the perfect definition of what a first issue of a major event should be. Jason Aaron delivered an issue that can bring in new readers while continuing ongoing plot threads from previous X-Men events that have happened the past few years. Aaron did a fantastic job showing the X-Men, specifically Cyclops and Wolverine, as characters that have seen a lot of evolution over the years. He also provided excellent challenge for the heroes of the story. The villains of the story are so great that it has the reader question how the X-Men will actually be able to come out of what lies ahead of them. If you are an X-Men fan or have had an interest in reading an X-Men book I highly recommend picking up X-Men: Schism #1 as it delivers on everything you expect from a great X-Men issue and event.