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X-Men: Schism Paperback – July 11, 2012
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The five issue arc is such an incredibly tight bit of self-contained storytelling from Jason Aaron. We start out with Cyclops and Wolverine going to an arms conference to plead with world leaders to destroy their Sentinel programs, and at this point of the story it's obvious the two of them are close friends now, far past the petty bickering they always seemed to be involved in back when Wolverine joined the team. One reviewer took issue with the fact that nations at the conference claimed Sentinels didn't exist when obviously they do, but he seemed to miss the fact that the leader making these claims was very obviously real life leader of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and an obvious parallel was being made to Iran's nuclear program and Ahmadinejad's insistence that the Holocaust never happened.
Another common complaint seems to be that the antagonists in this story are a new version of the Hellfire Club made up of children. People who didn't like the story bring up how lame it apparently is that the X-Men are taken down by kids, completely missing the fact that this whole story is about kids. Wolverine starts to pick up on the fact that Cyclops is training their young mutants to go to war and not to the ideals for which Professor X originally created the School For Gifted Youngsters. He sympathizes specifically with a young mutant named Idie who seems to have missed out on a normal childhood. She never played with dolls and has never even had ice cream before. Wolverine thinks that the students should have a (relatively) normal school experience before having to deal with the fact that most of humanity wants to kill them, whereas Cyclops is especially on edge now that their numbers have dipped below 200 mutants because of the M-Day event and wants to prepare them for the eventual war he sees coming. Obviously Jason Aaron is trying to make the point that Cyclops is dangerously close to turning their kids into the same kids that are now running the Hellfire Club, total monsters devoid of any human empathy. The event that ultimately causes the Schism to occur is when Idie has to do something truly horrific and she just accepts this as a fact of life for mutants. Wolverine can't accept this and so he gets into a pretty epic knockdown dragout brawl with Cyclops.
Usually I hate it when you have multiple artists on a project like this, but all the artists are fantastic and their styles gel enough that I never felt like I was taken out of the story. And Jason Aaron's plotting and dialogue are spot on. My only real complaint about this trade is that the Regenesis story at the end feels a little unnecessary. Basically you just get a brief look at what side each X-Man decides to take for the coming split, but there's not a whole lot of plot. It feels more like those recap pages you commonly see at the front of a comic to fill you in on what's happened previously, except the whole issue is the recap. But that's a minor complaint. Schism is a great X-story and a superb way to find out about how the current X-titles came to be the way they are.