By: Paul Jenkins (writer), Roberto de la Torre (art), Lee Loughridge (colors), Rob Steen (letters), Sebastian Girner (assistant editor), Daniel Ketchum (associate editor) & Nick Lowe (editor)

The Story: Something is coming to Utopia that is causing the X-Men to contemplate an evacuation and (if marketing is to be believed) this will cause a SCHISM between Cyclops and Wolverine.

What’s Good: Roberto de la Torre’s art is really nice.  He draws with a style that looks like it is based in photo-reference and then gets all kinds of scratchy.  It’s almost like he is taking the accurate anatomy of photo-reference and then inking over the top to inject vitality to the characters.  Given that this issue consists mainly of characters standing around and talking, it really needed visually appealing and interesting art or it would have just been boring as hell.  I really enjoyed de la Torre’s work on Daredevil recently and I’d LOVE to see him stick around the X-titles for a good long time because I prefer his art to about 5-6 artists who have been getting regular work out of the X-office.  Lee Loughridge also does a very nice job coloring.  Almost this entire issue takes place in the shadows and he manages to do his part to keep a slow-paced issue interesting.

The story itself….  Well, there is some good here if you’re really into the Cyclops – Xavier relationship.  Jenkins does a nice background of the time the two of them have spent together as Xavier is recognizing that Cyclops/Scott truly has grown up and HE (not Xavier) is the leader here.  Probably the highlight of this story is the flashing back to the early years of Scott’s time with Xavier.

What’s Not So Good: Well, it’s kind of a boring issue.  Not much happens and there are only the slightest hints of what crisis is upon the X-Men.  There is heavy allusion that it must be something like Jean Grey or the Phoenix force returning, but that isn’t even close to confirmed.  In fact, I only suspect that the story will go that direction because the Xavier/Scott flashbacks focus so heavily on Jean.  I should also note that I avoid marketing and interview about upcoming comic events because I don’t like things being spoiled, so it wouldn’t surprise me if there was information about this story revealed in an interview last month with CBR or Newsarama that didn’t actually make it into the issue.

And, as I was reading this, I couldn’t help but have continuity problems as I wondered how this story related to the Age of X story that we just finished last week.  Or how about the Breakworld situation that is going on in Uncanny.  Or how about the Lizard/Dark Beast problem that just wrapped last week in X-Men.  Or how about the story with Deathlock that is going on in X-Force.  All of these stories feature Wolverine, I might add.  I know that I just shouldn’t get so bothered by this stuff and that there are rational explanations for this stuff (usually some variation of how although these stories take 6 months to finish, they only last for a day or so in comic time).  Nevertheless, it really blows my disbelief out of the water to have this many huge crises going on at once with the same basic characters.  You can’t have drama when the same cast of characters is facing mortal doom every week in different X-titles.  We need a lull and an issue where the play baseball or something.

Conclusion: Great art comes to the rescue of a kinda slow story that doesn’t really tell us what is going on.  Hopefully things will pick up from here.

Grade: C

-Dean Stell

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