Review: Schism #1 – #5


Background:

After the events of House of M, millions of mutants became de-powered, with mutantkind becoming somewhat an endangered species. Becoming easier targets for  anti-mutant groups, the remaining mutants unified with the X-Men serving as their defenders. Under Cyclops’ leadership, the mutant race has been gradually backed into a corner, eventually founding their own “nation” in Utopia. United, but unstable, as Cyclops continues to take desperate measures in desperate times. Recently, Cyclops’ decision-making has put him at odds with his peers, namely Beast (who left the X-Men), Storm, Iceman, and others. How long are the X-Men going to follow Cyke’s lead?

Summary:

Issue 1

  • Hope Summers, together with several young mutants, welcomes Wolverine as he arrives on Utopia, expecting him to facilitate combat training. Wolverine refuses, walking away after an exchange with the mutant known as Idie. He proceeds to his room to sleep, but is interrupted by Cyclops who tells Wolverine to go to an arms conference with him.
  • The pair arrive at the conference. As Cyclops makes his speech asking the nations to decommission their remaining Sentinels (robots created primarily to combat mutants), the mutant telepath known as Quentin Quire arrives and disrupts the event by causing the world leaders to confess their sins to the world. As a response to Quire’s attack, several Sentinels are activated and the two X-Men are forced into battle. After dispatching the Sentinels, they watch Quire’s declaration on nationwide TV.
  • Carlton Kilgore, one of the world’s preeminent arms manufacturers, is mobbed by the media for his thoughts on what happened during the arms conference as he makes his way to his limo. He is murdered by his 12-year old son, Kade Kilgore, who announces that he’s taken over his father’s company.
  • Wolverine walks into a meeting between Cyclops, Emma Frost, Magneto and Namor as they discuss what to do with Quentin Quire. He decides not to join the meeting and instead meets Kitty Pryde, who hands him a box. He delivers the box to Idie, who opens it, revealing a doll. Idie invites him to eat ice cream with her, and he accepts.
  • Hope Summers walks in on Cyclops and the others as they watch a news report about Sentinels activities in North Korea. Wolverine and Idie join them. Cyclops explains that the world fears mutants more despite their smaller population because they’re not as scattered as they once were. The news report continues, revealing that North Korea owned the Sentinels and that other countries such as China, Egypt and France also had Sentinels of their own. Cyclops orders Emma to inform all mutants of the situation.
  • Watching the same news report, the reformed Hellfire Club congratulate Kade Kilgore on his successful attempt to disrupt the arms conference. Upon confirmation that phase two of Kade’s plans are in effect, the Hellfire Club welcome Kade as their new Black King.

Issue 2

  • A rally in Iran goes awry when a Sentinel malfunctions, attacking civilians instead.
  • Back in Utopia, Wolverine comes across several of the younger mutants as they chat about the current crisis. He sends them away, but Idie approaches him and tells him that she understands why this is all happening – that they are all monsters. Wolverine tries to reassure her that she’s not a monster, but she tells him not to worry as she’s already accepted it. Wolverine then watches her walk away.
  • Cyclops and Emma Frost try to assist the Cuckoos in facilitating rescue efforts as Sentinels across the globe continue to malfunction. Wolverine joins them, asking if there are any missions to do. Cyclops explains the current situation to him.
  • While this is happening, Kade Kilgore is outlining his plan to the Hellfire Club’s Inner Circle – he had sold old and defective Sentinels to these countries, intending for them to malfunction. He asks the Inner Circle for 4 billion dollars, a handful of lackeys, and for them to monitor and record the next 24 hours of news broadcasts as he prepares to make his next move.
  • The scene shifts to a meeting between bulldog-looking humanoids and a group of children. They give the humanoids the cash.
  • We then see Cyclops giving Wolverine a sitrep, explaining how the Sentinels have malfunctioned. We see a montage of several X-Men members in different countries, each dealing with the defective robots. Wolverine asks to be sent out in the field, but Cyclops refuses, explaining that he needs his A-Team on standby. Wolverine then declares that he’s going after Quentin Quire, who enters the room and announces himself.
  • We go back to the children dealing with the humanoids, who appear to be intergalactic black market traders. The humanoids keep demanding the payment in the form of intergalactic credits. They lose their patience and end up getting killed after threatening the kids.
  • Quentin explains his sudden appearance in Utopia – wanted for his stunt at the arms conference, he is requesting asylum. Wolverine intends to turn him over to Steve Rogers, but Cyclops stops him. He wants Quire to stand trial in Utopia. Wolverine wants to make the call anyway, but he doesn’t have to as Steve Rogers himself has called them.
  • Steve thanks Cyclops for helping with the Sentinel problem and confirms if there’s been any sign of Quentin Quire anywhere. Cyclops lies and tells Rogers otherwise as Wolverine keeps Quire hidden and silent. Frustrated with the decision, Wolverine walks out. Quire makes fun of Wolverine and Cyclops scolds him for it. Emma sends Quire away and talks to Cyclops about the mayor requesting their presence for the grand opening of a new mutant rights museum. Cyclops refuses at first, but upon realizing that the event will be televised, agrees to send a team.
  • Wolverine makes his way into a bar, wearing civilian clothing. He happens upon a news report on the X-Men’s appearance (led by Emma Frost, Iceman, Colossus, Magneto and Namor) at the mutant rights museum. The issue ends as Kade’s group, together with some Hellfire lackeys, make their way to the grand opening.

Issue 3

  • We start with Cyclops in the control room asking for status updates. The Cuckoos inform him that all X-Men are currently engaged. Cyclops communicates with Emma telepathically, but is cut-off by interference. Cyclops immediately realizes that there’s going to be trouble and heads off for the museum. Meanwhile, Emma is hurt by the telepathic interruption and her nose bleeds. The senior X-Men present at the museum prepare themselves for attack while the younger X-Men watch on.
  • Wolverine, still drinking at a local bar, is talking to Rogue on the phone when he sees a news report on a disturbance at the museum of mutant history. He leaves immediately.
  • A flashback of the new Hellfire Club’s Inner Circle provides some insight on the new members: the leader Kade Kilgore; Manuel Enrique, another youngster that belongs to one of the wealthiest families; Baron Maximilian Von Katzenelnbogen, scientific prodigy; and 11-year-old Wilhelmina Kensington. Despite their age, these four were able to take over the Hellfire Club and are now leading an attack against Cyclops’ team at the museum.
  • The Hellfire Club easily subdues each of the senior X-Men members at the museum. With the help of the Cuckoos, Cyclops and Wolverine make psychic contact with Idie, who report that the Hellfire Club is abducting the subdued X-Men and are bringing in a suitcase with a timer counting down. Wolverine desperately orders Idie to escape and pleads with Cyclops, but Cyclops tells Idie to do what she thinks is necessary.
  • Idie engages the Hellfire Club guards and manages to disable them, allowing the civilians to evacuate the museum and preventing the X-Men from getting captured. However, the bomb still explodes, killing the Hellfire Club guards left inside. Wolverine lashes out at Cyclops, blaming him for putting Idie in a position that led to the deaths of several men. Suddenly, a Sentinel assembles among the wreckage.

The newest incarnation of the Hellfire Club.

Issue 4

  • Off-panel, Cyclops evacuates the youngsters together with the incapacitated X-Men. They arrive at Utopia, where Cyclops tries to console Idie, who’s still in shock over what happened.
  • Dr. Nemesis, Madison Jeffries and Wolverine remained at the ruins of the museum to try and stop the new Sentinel, but they fail. They warn Cyclops that the Sentinel has but one goal: Utopia.
  • Cyclops orders the Cuckoos to send out a distress signal, but to no avail – the X-Men’s teleporters were also incapacitated, and the closest X-Men teams were still 37 minutes away. Out of desperation, he shoots an optic blast at the approaching Sentinel from miles away. He hits it, but the Sentinel just self-repaired the damage.
  • Hope and several of the younger X-Men, including Idie, appear and offer their assistance in fighting off the Sentinel. Cyclops considered it and agreed, but Wolverine rises from the water, protesting the participation of the children.
  • Cyclops and Wolverine end up arguing involving the children in the battle. To settle it, Cyclops it by asking anyone who wants to leave to go and anyone who wants to fight to stay. Wolverine walks away while the rest of the children stay.
  • Just before engaging the Sentinel, Wolverine reappears and confronts Cyclops with a detonator, threatening to blow Utopia apart unless he agrees to evacuating the island. With the Sentinel almost upon them, Cyclops and Wolverine come to blows.

This is no mere squabble – both men are dead serious about this argument.

Issue 5

  • The two veteran X-Men continue their fight even with the Sentinel already attacking them. Upon realizing that the younger X-Men have already engaged the Sentinel. Cyclops joins their fight, and Wolverine does the same after looking at the detonator in his hand. They win the battle, with Kade and his new Hellfire Club watching at a distance.
  • The rest of the X-Men arrive, and those in Emma’s team also recover, only to find that Cyclops and the younger X-Men were able to destroy the new Sentinel. The X-Men regroup throughout the night.
  • In the morning, damage control is implemented. Wolverine finds Idie sitting out facing a cliff and they talk. She’s still affected by what happened at the museum. Wolverine contemplates, then walks off. He meets with Cyclops tells him that he’s leaving the X-Men. Cyclops argues a bit, but realizes that Wolverine has made up his mind.
  • Wolverine leaves, together with other X-Men members who disagree with Cyclops’ methods, and head toward the ruins of Xavier’s school.

Future Impact:

This storyline has tremendous impact over the X-Titles, especially the core ones. After a leadership role in X-Force, Wolverine’s finally leading a core X-Men lineup in Wolverine and the X-Men, where he and several other senior X-Men members have decided to rebuild Xavier’s school. Meanwhile, Cyclops gets to maintain his status quo in Utopia, leading mutants such as Magneto and Emma Frost. This also introduced a new and quite different incarnation of the Hellfire Club – young prodigal sociopaths hellbent on ruling the world and eliminating the X-Men along the way.

Readers who want to follow the previous (and current, technically speaking) status quo can pick up Uncanny X-Men and be part of Cyclops’ more militaristic X-Men world. Those who miss the traditional X-Men school setting can follow Wolverine and the X-Men and read about stories (at least the first arc) that are more lighthearted in nature. The biggest impact that this story will have is on Marvel’s event of the year – Avengers vs X-Men. With Earth’s Mightiest Heroes just outside Cyke’s doorsteps, a united front would have been really helpful for the mutants.

Final Thoughts:

I only have three complaints about this entire work,  the first of which has nothing to do with the plot. For this series, a different art team handled each issue. In collected  form, this may be off-putting to some readers since the art styles are quite different from the others so those nitpicky about the art may feel like there’s a break in continuity. I liked most of the art so it didn’t affect my enjoyment that much.

The second complaint is the character of Kade Kilgore and how he was able to concoct a plan that drove a rift between Cyclops and Wolverine. At the end of the story’s climax, Kilgore and his Inner Circle were shown observing Utopia from afar.  I don’t know if Kilgore really intended to split the X-Men apart or if he just wanted to cause a ruckus; if it’s the former, it’s kind of farfetched that he would know exactly how to turn Wolverine against Cyclops.

My last complaint about how Wolverine refused to let the younger mutants fight off the Sentinel that was attacking Utopia. I understand why he didn’t like what happened to Idie – even if it was in self-defense or an accident, she ended up killing those Hellfire Guards and that’s quite traumatic for a girl of Idie’s age.  But all Cyclops wanted was help in defending Utopia against a lone Sentinel – an extra tough Sentinel, but a Sentinel nonetheless. Wolverine could’ve just shut up and helped right away instead of endangering everyone on Utopia and the kids wanted to help anyway.

Getting past these complaints, the storyline is actually quite sound and is a believable way of changing the X-Men’s status quo. For years, the mutants have been united and I think that the stories that could’ve been told with a united X-Men have already been told. After Schism, readers have the option of either following Cyclops and his team, or following Wolverine and his team. I definitely recommend picking up this trade when it comes out.

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