by Jason Aaron (writer), Frank Cho (art), Jason Keith (colors), and Jared K. Fletcher (letters)

The Story: The X-Men race to deal with the global rash of out-of-control sentinels, Cyclops and Wolverine butt heads over Quire, and Kade Kilgore makes plans.

What’s Good: Like many kids who grew up in the late 80s to early 90s, I was an avid X-fan growing up.  That said, I’ve felt increasingly alienated by the last few years of X-Men stories to the point where I only cursorily followed what was going on in the X-verse.  The various creators, many of them quite talented, just weren’t telling the kinds of X-Men stories that I wanted to read.

And so, the first issue of Schism was a revelation as, out of nowhere, Aaron began telling a story that I was interested in.  With this second issue, we get more of the same.

In many ways, with Schism, Aaron appears to realize that a lot of what worked in the past for the X-Men didn’t need fixing and so, we’re getting a story that really brings back the basics of what makes for a compelling X-Men comic.  Namely, we’re getting Sentinels and anti-mutant hysteria.  More importantly, we’re not getting outlandish or bizarre reactions from the X-Men to all this either.  Instead, the mutants are heading out, kicking robot ass, and suffering the slings and arrows of those who hate and fear them all the same.  It’s not re-inventing the wheel on Aaron’s part, but there’s no mistaking that this works.  It’s a central conflict that makes for a relatable and enjoyable comic that pulled me in.

There’s solid character work as well.  An early scene between Wolverine and Idie of Generation Hope is tragic, haunting stuff that his the mark of an excellent writer.  It’s a scene that really punches you in the gut, and Wolverine’s reaction (and how he carries himself, as a result, through the rest of the issue) is a testament to his heart and empathy, beneath all the gristle.

Building off of this, Aaron also begins the slow burn between Scott and Wolverine this month.  While I don’t think we’ve gotten to the central issue of Schism yet, the points of dissension are beginning.  This is one case where I think that hype has actually served a comic well.  The fact that we already know that Scott and Wolverine will split and that the X-Men will be shattered as a result actually aids this comic.  We’re much more inclined to scrutinize over the characters’ treatment of one another and it’s a lot easier to put a lot of stock into any and all arguments or points of contention between them.  It makes Cyclops and Wolverine’s relationship more of a focal point.

I’m also loving Kade Kilgore.  He and the Hellfire Club are obviously right up Aaron’s alley, which as ever, is an extremely twisted alley.  This month, Kade brings along a group of his friends: twisted, murderous kids, one of them legitimately batshit crazy.  It’s nice to see that Aaron is bringing a touch of that outrageous, grindhouse chic of his, even to a big, mainstream book like this one.  Kade himself is also a pleasure to watch, mostly because Aaron really makes the most out of an already awesome concept.  It’s hard to go wrong with a homicidal, Machiavellian, child megalomaniac, but Aaron really capitalizes.

What’s Not So Good: Not a lot.  The only major thing holding this issue back from a higher score is the fact that it’s a second issue.  As a result, it’s really all about build-up and transition and ensuring that things move along smoothly.  Essentially, this is Aaron setting up the pieces for his next big story beats, with none of those beats actually happening this month.
That said, while I thought Frank Cho’s art was solid enough this month, his take on Scott Summers is horrendous.  I can’t recall seeing a weedier, nerdier, and weaker looking Cyclops.

Conclusion: Schism remains a winner.

Grade: B+

-Alex Evans