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    X-Men Schism

    Remember last week when I stated that I'd be a stand in for only one week? I lied. I thought it'd be much more fun to sub in for Anth (re: shitcan him) and talk about the STD's and man-boy love that Daniel may have come across on vacation in Thailand. How about it, Dan?
    I can neither confirm nor deny these allegations. I will just say that it is good to be back in this hemisphere talking about comics again. So to that end, we've decided to look at the recently concluded 5-part miniseries X-Men: Schism, which, as the title suggests, tells the story of a break up in the X-Men.

    Here's some backstory: the X-verse is a different landscape than that of the 90's. For one, the mutant population has been whittled away from millions to a few hundred, all living on Utopia. What's Utopia? Ideological remarks aside, Utopia is an island on the West coast of the United States that is home to the X-Men and a few others. Another major change is that Xavier is no longer running the show. Not even Magneto is in contention to be the dominant mutant leader. Cyclops is head of mutantkind and is preaching no philosophy other than survival.
    It comes as a bit of a shock to see such a shakeup but it does make sense to allow for the rise of Cyclops and Wolverine as the defacto leaders of the X-Men. Their loyalty to each other (through years of conflict) along with their innate physical and psychological differences immediately make for a compelling dynamic.

    Well, they've always had a tense bromance. Mostly because Wolverine's always wanted to bang Jean Grey (Cyclops' lady). But they've grown to respect each other and have pretty much been the two constants for any X-team incarnation in the past 10 to 15 years, this time on Utopia.
    So yes, the X-Men now live on Utopia (I hate that they went with that obvious moniker) with Cyclops in charge and Wolverine as his loyal right-hand man until, that is, the situation forces their respective hands and philosophical differences (hey, we've seen this before!) drive them apart.

    I always thought the thing that would split the two would be Wolverine going for Cyke's sloppy seconds. And they don't get sloppier than the White Queen.

    Editor's Note: You decide.

    That was a long time ago! She is a prim and proper lady now (who still makes questionable wardrobe choices). That being said, your surprise is noted, Al. We've got philosophical differences in an X-Men book and Magneto and Professor X aren't directly involved. In fact, Magneto is just sort of hanging around in the background.

    Yeah, and Professor X has been left completely out of this mini series. I think it's for the best. For the books to flourish, you have to look to the future, not the past.
    On that note, I want to say that this series definitely feels progressive. The story appears to have an eye for guiding the X-verse into a new phase. To start with, I like the X-Men and mutantkind as a political entity, it inherently raises the stakes of any conflict as an injury to any member could potential reduce their worldwide presence (and thus, their voice in world affairs).

    Plus you could say that they have... Diplomatic Immunity. ©
    I will say though that I can't believe it is 2011 and we are still dealing with rogue Sentinel storylines. That felt tired to me when I was 12 years old watching the X-Men Saturday morning cartoon.

    Your former self could take a few pointers from this: Sentinels have always represented the inherent fear humanity holds against mutanity (yeah, it's a word). Some writers bring them out of the toy box every now and again to run with the theme of mankind's being unwilling to accept the notion of evolution.
    They are an effective Boogeyman for mutants, I suppose, but I guess I'm surprised there are still sentinels left for Wolverine and Cyclops to shred through. Now, speaking of former child selves, 12 year old villains? On the one hand, reintroducing the Hellfire Club with a new, um, generation of members is an interesting step though it remains unclear why these children would be so hell-bent on killing mutants.

    This was flat out stupid. The idea that kid geniuses could take out a team comprised of characters that are well-versed in battling adult geniuses is just moronic.
    It struck me as the kind of twist Mark Millar (writer of Kickass, Wanted, and the Ultimates) would introduce so he could produce the bizarre image of a 12 year old boy talking about world domination while throwing his father out of a helicopter. I suppose it resonates with a certain target audience (re: angry 12 year olds) but I looked at it as needlessly goofy as if it undermines the weight of the story being developed.

    I would have loved to have seen someone new and imposing to be the face of this era of X-Men villainy. Instead, we get the Goonies.
    That might have been nice but really it is all window dressing for the real core of the story, the confrontation brewing between Cyclops and Wolverine, Scott and Logan. These two seem to have been at each other's throats (metaphorically, mostly) for 30 years and here they find themselves at opposite ends of a serious philosophical struggle (echoes of our two former friends Charles and Erik perhaps?).

    There's really no better way to change the landscape of the X-verse than by having it revolve around the two most popular guys on the team. And I have to say, X-Men: Schism does a great job in portraying Cyclops as the man who struggles to make the tough decisions instead of the straight laced, fearless leader that readers may remember from the 90's.
    True. I also really like how Wolverine is portrayed as this weary warrior who is very aware of his ability to destroy and kill but desires to keep that violence and anger in check. He reminds me of Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven in the way he wishes only to live in peace. So despite the roll-out of the Hellfire Child Army, the character development between Cyclops and Wolverine was enough to hold the story together. The reader really gets a sense of the scars the two share and the mutual respect each has for the other.

    And the respect remains intact amidst the in-fighting, which basically comes down to Wolverine disagreeing with Cyclops' field decision to allow young mutants to take part in battle. Now, I understand and sympathize Cyclops' stance. The guy fought Mag-freaking-neto as a youth. Under his tutelage, especially in the face of extinction, the younger mutants would have the tools to overcome the next big threat to mutantkind, which in this case is a giant Sentinel.

    Pay no mind to the rogue Sentinel.

    I've got to side with Wolverine though on this one, however. Is there a character out there that has seen more horror, bloodshed, violence, loss, and grief? Sure he physically heals from pain but it is clear in the Schism storyline that the emotional pain has taken its toll. If there is anyone who understands what those psychological scars can do to a person, it is him.

    Well then, how about the old saying "with great power comes great responsibility"? It is clear that in the Marvel Universe that comes in spades. Basically if you're a mutant, there's more than a slight chance that your future will involve a whole lot of battle.
    Fair enough, but Wolverine is clear in his desire to protect the new generation of mutants (really, the last generation) rather than press them into service. Logan has long been keeping young mutants at arms length not because he doesn't care but rather because he wants to shield them from the violence he knows is out there. Maybe Scott is right in calling everyone to arms, but I agree with Logan when he says that the X-Men exist to fight these threats so the innocent won't be forced to.

    It just seems a tad hypocritical of Wolverine to try and pull the wool over the eyes of these young mutants. Trouble will follow mutants regardless of them being on an island or in a school. In my mind, it would be preferable for them to turn into junior versions of Cyclops and help the cause then to have Wolverine yell at them about the fundamentals of trigonometry.
    But I think Cyclops has lost sight of the cause. He has clearly moved away from the vision of his mentor, Xavier (including the trigonometry!). Granted, he hasn't swung so far the other way as to become a dictator in the Magneto mould, but that endpoint is looming out there.

    That's just it, though. Cyclops has had to adapt along with the changing landscape of the X-verse and it only means that his stance is in the greyish area between Magneto and Xavier. He's more of a realist as opposed to Wolverine, a sentimentalist.
    Touche. Cyclops' conversion into a pragmatist is definitely a point in his favour. I still think though that he is being far too myopic in his approach to strengthening the mutant species. It's very telling that he doesn't recognize the harm of having young mutants killing in the name of protecting their island sanctuary. Yes, the immediate gain is their survival but the long term effects of this desensitization probably have a darker end.

    Ouch. I wonder what the response will be?

    Of course.

    That most likely will be the case as X-Men: Schism was meant to lead into the next three years of X-Men related stories. Chances are the future conflicts will revolve around the decisions made by Cyclops and Wolverine in this mini-series.
    And for that, I'll give this miniseries a solid thumbs up. Despite some shaky choices for villains, the idea to split up the X-Men along philosophical lines should provide Marvel with the opportunity to explore some interesting storylines in the future. And that is definitely something I think we can both agree on.

    We have never been as close as we are right now. Bring it in, pal.
    Editor's Note: Check back in two weeks when our Anchor Panel regulars, Anthony and Daniel, give their first impressions on Batman: Arkham City. We will do our best to keep Alex away from the column this time.