Road to Regenesis: X-Men Schism Review

After a few months, the moment we’ve been waiting for has finally come. Schism #4 ended with Cyclops and Wolverine literally at each other’s throats with the largest and deadliest Sentinel the X-Men have ever faced poised to destroy everything on the X-Men’s island home of Utopia. So how did this momentous occassion wrap up?

If you haven’t been reading Schism yet, you’ve missed a new Hellfire Club (now “humans only”) mass producing sentinels for all the world’s countries to protect their nations from the threat of mutants (are mutants really a threat at this point?). With this conflict also comes a divide on what the X-Men mean in thisday and age, a world that arms its nations against a populace of people that could fit into a concert hall. This is really the core of Schism, and it’s really defined by the looming mechanical monstrosity set to wipe out Utopia.

Each figurehead wants to face this battle a different way. Cyclops wants to hold onto Utopia: for the sake of sending a message to the world, that the X-Men–and mutants in general–won’t be moved; and to send a message to the mutant youth that sometimes you can only be pushed so far before you have to fight back for what is yours. To do this, bereft of any senior X-Men allies, Cyclops allows any student and civilian mutants to fight alongside him and battle the sentinel until it leads to its destruction, or their own.

Wolverine believes in hightailing it out of Utopia and using Utopia–and the explosives within–to blow the Sentinel to dust and just move on and rebuild elsewhere, just like the X-Men have been doing for years now. He believes–especially after Cyclops incidentally turned new mutant Idie into a murderer after a reason compromising altercation–that these students are missing out on their childhood, and only warriors like himself should fight for it.

As I said in an earlier review, each X-Men represents two sides of Xavier’s dream. Cyclops was practically drafted into this struggle as a child, and molded by Xavier to be a boy soldier in a war where the young have to sacrifice their innocence to fight for their lives… especially in a world that hates and fears them. Wolverine has always believed that the only blood on anyone’s hands should be his own, if he can help it. Having sacrificed his own innocence long ago, he’s fought his entire life as a soldier so that others could be free of the anguish and pain that comes along with violence.

Cyclops believes in the part of Xavier’s Dream that says mutants should be ready to fight and protect the people and ideals they believe in. Wolverine believes in the part of Xavier’s Dream that humans and mutants should live together in harmony, and the only way to do that is to mentor the next generation and protect them from harm, like a Momma Bear protecting her cubs.

I’ll leave the results of this physical and mental battle to you to find out for yourself, but I will say that the battle with the sentinel does decide a winner in its own way, at least for the time being. And it’s that very same result that leads to the schism of the team that we all knew was coming. It should be no surprise that the team definitely splits up after this conflict: interviews and solicits have already shown this as an eventuality, not a possibility. It’s called Schism, afterall, and that was the whole point of this tale. And that’s where I feel this whole event suffers.

All stories to some degree are trying to convey some kind of message, even if the author doesn’t realize it. Better stories are written by writers who know how to hide the literary devices that lead to certain outcomes. For me, Schism has been in plain sight. Every time Wolverine and Cyclops had a debate in this miniseries, it felt just a little more strained than usual. Sure they were pushed to the breaking point with Kid Omega’s random return (more on that later) and the U.N. being in an uproar due to his actions, but it’s the same thing they’ve faced before.

And sure Wolverine’s been mad that Idie had to kill some men, but their young mutants have faced more than enough death just being students at the school these last few years. More than half of the X Academy student body have been killed in recent years, from bio-sentinel Predator X’s to terrorist bombings initiated by anti-mutant extremists. Idie herself would have had to kill eventually had she stayed in her homeland.

Also everything about this silly new Hellfire Club has made no sense: sure, they’re a bunch of snobby, superrich evil kid geniuses, but their methods and goals served no real purpose but to give the X-Men a reason to hit something for a few pages at a time. They made a bit of money, sure, but ultimately their presence did nothing for this story, and if you’ve read my earlier review on issue 3, they pulled some absurd moves (even for a comic book). Ultimately they were simply filler, action padded in to allow this story to move along while the greater debate between Cyclops and Wolverine grew.

And returning to Kid Omega, he ultimately served no larger purpose in this book, remaining a cackling background bit character. It’s clear from solicits for upcoming titles that he was returned purely for the sake of being shoehorned into one of the new X-series spinning out of this event.

I know, I know: all mainstream comics crossover events fit this criteria of characters plugged into archtype roles to fit the occasion and lead to an evitable (and generally obvious) conclusion, but everything felt so… prompted. I felt that while the whole idea of this debate was astoundingly original and scenes depicting Cyclops and Wolverine felt true, the strings of this puppet show were far too pronounced for me to ignore.

But, all of that said, the premise is itself a very original concept, and while I thought this would be a years-late Civil War rehash, the end result made a lot of sense to the core of what the X-Men are. It feels like this whole idea was spun out of a divide in creative differences as to how the X-series should be handled, with Cyclops representing the current trend and Wolverine representing the “old school” X-Men… pun intended, with emphasis on the school part. What the end of Schism means is that X-Writers (and in turn, X-fans) will be allowed to dabble in either direction, and enjoy the best of both worlds. Overall, Schism accomplished what it needed to do, and it did it fairly well, and I am still  psyched to see what comes next in the X- franchise with X-Men: Regenesis.

I give the X-Men Schism mini-series:

7 out of 10.

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