Review: X-Men: Schism #5
And so the X-Men are split asunder! Destruction has come to Utopia, but a growing rift between Cyclops and Wolverine has brought the two long-time allies to blows! Who is right? Who is wrong? Can they put aside their differences in time to save the day? Can the X-Men as a family ever recover from that stinging comment about Jean Grey? Can the X-Men defeat one solitary Sentinel? The answer to a lot of those questions is ‘yes’. But as to whether or not the big X-Men split makes any legitimate sense, the answer is most definitely ‘no’.
I am not ashamed to say that I completely agree with Cyclops on this one. Wolverine’s decision and his reasoning for breaking the X-Men in half fly in the face of decades of X-Men history! I just don’t buy it.
Comic rating: 3/5: Alright.
That’s not to say this wasn’t an enjoyable issue. The fight between Cyclops and Wolverine came to a great conclusion, and remained epic and brutal throughout. The day was saved in wonderful superhero fashion, and the debate between the two star characters was both respectful and intelligent. They didn’t just part ways flipping each other off, is what I’m saying. The years of respect and camaraderie remained between them, even as they went their separate ways. All in all, I’d definitely say that X-Men: Schism was a worthwhile story. There were some annoying parts, like everything with the new Hellfire Club or Idie, and the character rift wasn’t as clear until issue #4, but now that it’s complete, I think it’s a good story.
But Wolverine’s reasoning is just ridiculous! As much as I may have liked this issue, I had to bring it down a grade for how foolishly stupid and naive Wolverine seems, and how the titular split doesn’t make any sense. Spoilers and more after the jump.
The basic story behind the split is this: there is a giant, super-Sentinel on its way to the X-Men’s island stronghold, Utopia. The super-Sentinel intends to destroy the island and kill all the mutants. Almost all of the X-Men are gone, tied up with other problems. So that leaves Cyclops and the remaining X-students and teenagers to repel the super-Sentinel.
Cyclops believes that Utopia is worth fighting for, and he’ll gladly stand alongside the X-students to defend their home.
Wolverine thinks they should all abandon Utopia so that the X-students don’t have to fight a Sentinel.
I said this in my last review, but ARE YOU KIDDING ME!? Where has Wolverine been for the past 40+ years of the X-Men training teenage mutants to use their powers in combat?
I can understand that reasoning for Wolverine personally. It would make sense if he was leaving Cyclops and Utopia on his own because he disagreed with Cyclops’ decision. But the idea that he’s upset that they’re training the teenage mutants to be X-Men is ridiculous. He keeps using the terms ‘soldiers’ or ‘combat troops’, and that’s just stupid. At no point have any of the X-students or mutant teenagers been trained or used as soldiers. That has never been the X-Men’s or Cyclops’ style, not even on Utopia. It definitely never happened in this mini-series. No sir, no how.
Instead, the X-Men have been training the teenage mutants how to use their mutant powers, just like they’ve been doing for 40+ years! It just so happens that every other week they have to use those powers to stop the bad guys! Either from attacking some innocent people or from attacking the X-Men directly. This time it was a super-Sentinel. Last time it was a regular Sentinel. Other times it’s been an evil mutant or some human hate group. Whatever the case, the X-Men have always had teenage mutants on their roster who help out and fight the bad guys.
That Wolverine doesn’t want them to fight the bad guys this one time feels grossly out of place.
And you cannot tell me that once the series Wolverine and the X-Men begins that Wolverine and his students aren’t going to be having the same exact adventures the X-Men have always had. If they actually go ahead and write stories that don’t involve superheroics, I’ll eat my hat.
Hell, the X-students volunteered to fight the super-Sentinel! Cyclops didn’t force them to fight or order them to fight. The students volunteered! Even when Wolverine told them to run and threatened to blow them all up with a bomb, the students CAME BACK all on their own to help out in this new issue. And they won! Cyclops and the X-students utterly destroyed that stupid super-Sentinel! Nobody was killed!
Yet still Wolverine pouts and leaves the island, taking several of the students with him to rebuild the old Xavier School back in Westchester. Only know he’s going to call it the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning. Has Wolverine forgotten what happened the last time the X-Men tried to have a school for mutants in Westchester?
The students were killed by the busload! Bad guys came from every direction to attack and outright kill the X-students. They had their own series, called New X-Men, and there were several months where students just kept getting killed! And some of the teenage mutants who joined Wolverine at the end of this issue were survivors of that time. All their friends and classmates were killed around them.
The bad guys will never stop coming at the X-Men. That is the nature of superhero comics. That Wolverine thinks it’s a good idea to split the X-Men, take half the members and students with him to restart the old school is hopelessly naive, and Wolverine should know this. Again, I defy Marvel to actually write a series about the X-students just being students without having to worry about being superheroes. No bad guys or evil mutants attacking, no need to put on costumes or use their powers in combat. Just students being students. I would read the Hell out of that comic!
I want to keep ranting, and I haven’t even gotten to the part about Idie, but let’s get into the actual issue.
Like I said, the issue is a good read. The fight between Wolverine and Cyclops that started at the end of last issue continues at the beginning of this one. It remains badass and brutal, especially under the pencils of Adam Kubert. The man has drawn the X-Men for years and it shows. The art is fantastic. And in this issue, we add the giant super-Sentinel to the fight, so it gets even more entertaining! Cyclops and Wolverine have to dodge giant Sentinel fists and laser blasts while trying to tear each other apart. The art handles the three-way battle very well.
If you recall from last issue, Wolverine has set 2,000 pounds of explosives around Utopia. He plans to blow up the island and take the super-Sentinel with it. He told all the students to run and begin the evacuation. Wolverine is holding the detonator in his hand, but the fight keeps distracting him from pressing the button. At one point, Wolverine has the gall to tell Cyclops that Cyclops brought this explosion on himself. Ridiculous. Wolverine set the bomb. He SET A BOMB! It’s no one’s fault by Wolverine’s!
So the fight gets pretty bad. Wolverine gets blasted almost down to his skeleton, and Cyclops gets skewered again and again by Wolverine’s claws. The two men are bloody, broken wrecks. And it looks like the super-Sentinel is about to destroy them with one final blast.
But guess what…the X-students come back! Wolverine scared them off with his bomb, but they have decided all on their own to come back and help out! They attack the super-Sentinel en masse. And once they realize what’s happening, Cyclops and Wolverine put their differences on hold and focus on the Sentinel as well.
And they win! It literally takes only a page or two before the combined might of Cyclops, Wolverine and the X-students destroys the super-Sentinel. And nobody is acting like a soldier or a general, nobody is giving orders. They are all just X-Men, using their mutant powers to defeat a Sentinel. The students even celebrate once it’s over, slapping high-fives and cheering. Though Wolverine and Cyclops exchange a glance.
The rest of the issue is clean up, with a few panels of people helping the injured or repairing parts of the island. This isn’t the first time the X-Men have been attacked, nor is it the first time they’ve had injured or have had to rebuild parts of their home. It happens ALL THE DAMN TIME! The old X-Mansion was destroyed and rebuilt so many times that it became a cliche. So what I’m saying is that there is nothing that happened in this issue that isn’t any worse than anything the X-Men have ever faced before.
But still Wolverine is all pouty that the X-students had to fight.
A lot of Wolverine’s decision seems to boil down to a teenage character named Idie. So let’s talk about Idie, someone I have come to absolutely hate after reading X-Men: Schism.
Idie is a member of Generation Hope, a team of 5 or 6 brand new mutants. The overall history is too long and complicated to get into, but Idie is a mutant who only recently came into her mutant powers, and she was recruited into the X-Men by another character named Hope. Idie’s power is to control both fire and ice. She comes from Nigeria, where the people viewed her as a witch. Idie is very religious, and she too views herself as some kind of witch or “monster” because she is a mutant. She does not like her mutant powers, and has made peace with the fact that she’ll burn in Hell because she is a mutant.
In issue #3 of X-Men: Schism, Idie used her powers to defeat and kill some soldiers who were trying to harm the X-Men. She was the last hope after the soldiers attacked, and she stepped up and used her powers to save the lives of her fellow X-students, the X-Men and the civilians who were also under attack. Yes, she had to kill, but she did it to save lives…and she volunteered to do it. Cyclops didn’t order her to do it, he told her to do what she thought was right. Wolverine didn’t want her to have to do it.
Anyway, once the battle with the super-Sentinel is over, Wolverine sits down and has a chat with Idie.
Idie needs help. This much is obvious. Wolverine later tells Cyclops that they failed Idie. But they did not fail Idie by making her fight off the super-Sentinel or the murderous soldiers. The X-Men have failed Idie by not teaching her that she’s not a monster. I don’t know what the hell has been happening in the Generation Hope series, but clearly everybody has failed Idie in that she still views herself as some sort of monster just because she’s a mutant. She might as well be mentally incompetent, her religious delusion is so strong.
Deprogramming should have been Day One for Idie’s time on Utopia.
Idie’s views are dangerous and detrimental to both herself and the rest of the student body. It’s like if you rescue someone from a crazy cult. You don’t just immediately toss them into a public school and hope for the best. You need to spend some time deprogramming them from all the crazy cult rhetoric they absorbed. Idie has been brainwashed to hate and fear mutants, so the X-Men should have spent some time curing her of those beliefs.
And those beliefs should not be used by Wolverine or anyone to make such a massive decision as splitting up the X-Men! You’re not going to help Idie by making her choose sides. She’ll probably demonize the other side now! How can you teach her that being a mutant is OK when you also have to teach her that your way of being a mutant is better than the other way.
So basically, Idie sucks. They’ve introduced this character with real problems, but the Marvel and X-Men writers are doing crap to help her with the problem. Yet they make her the emotional linchpin that pushes Wolverine into leaving Utopia. Dangerously stupid.
At any rate, Idie’s talk convinces Wolverine to go tell Cyclops that he’s leaving Utopia. I was rather pleased with the chat. It’s respectful and mature, as opposed to some melodramatic bickering. The two old friends and rivals have an amicable parting of ways, even as Cyclops tries to convince Wolverine that he’s wrong for leaving. I liked the part where Wolverine says he could use a Blackbird, and Cyclops tells him to just take it. The second half of the conversation is told in narration bubbles as we get a montage of Wolverine loading up a Blackbird to leave.
And Iceman is there. Why is Iceman there?
All of a sudden we’re shown which characters will be going with Wolverine. Randomly, Iceman is among them, in fact, he’s the only other adult. Iceman barely appeared in X-Men: Schism, having a small role in issue #3. He didn’t interact at all with Wolverine, and hasn’t said either way which side he’d pick. Yet they automatically just throw him on Wolverine’s side. This is odd, considering his long history with Cyclops. And since Beast already left Utopia years ago, and with what’s happening to Archangel over in X-Force, it seems that Cyclops doesn’t have any of his original X-Men teammates left. Shame.
Hopefully future issues will shine a little light on why certain characters picked their side of the Schism. No time at all is devoted in this issue to explaining why Iceman would side with Wolverine. Or why several students join Wolverine.
Weren’t the students just celebrating their victory over the super-Sentinel a moment ago? Now all of a sudden they want to leave Utopia and join Wolverine on whatever fool crusade he’s got? Why? Perhaps because he’s a popular guy.
Which is another problem. Wolverine is one of the most popular characters that Marvel has. Which is why he stars in half a dozen comic books, and not just X-Men comic books. He has at least two solo series, and is a member of two different Avengers teams, The Avengers and The New Avengers. He appears in all of these books…and now we’re supposed to believe he has time to start up the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning? Heck, a running gag in The New Avengers is that they spend a lot of their time sitting around eating and playing poker. Are we still going to see Wolverine playing poker when he’s supposed to be running a school?
What’s he going to do, leave Iceman in charge?