By: Jason Aaron (writer), Daniel Acuña (artist), Jordan D. White (assistant editor), Daniel Ketchum (associate editor)

The Story: A trap is set for the X-Men at the Museum of Mutant History. We learn more (and are impressed by) the capabilities of the Hellfire Club’s junior division. Cyclops wears a jetpack and Wolverine steals a car.

What’s Good: Daniel Acuña’s art is very stylized, but if you like his style, then this issue is for you. I found myself comparing the art favorably to his work on the Eternals. His shots are moody, so much so, that I almost found the tone on the first page to be oppressively so. This is a good thing though, because this is the middle of a 5-issue arc, so if things aren’t bad now in tone and mood, something is wrong. The darkness on the edges and background of the art also contributed to a feeling that I didn’t have all the information, and that the characters were without options. And knowing the way Schism is going to have to go, this is again excellent art chores to propel the theme and taste of the story. Acuña’s mini Hellfire Club was creepy, far more so than the other artists in the series have done and the weird background in their meeting felt almost Steranko-ish in flavor. And, most importantly, the action, in this donnybrook of an issue, was clear and dynamic. Check out the energy Acuña puts into Magneto walking towards his target with hellfire goons flying all around him.

On writing, Aaron brings his trademark grittiness to a story of continuing bigotry and persecution. He did this with snappy banter, generally tight dialogue filled with real personality (none moreso than the pint-sized Hellfire people, underlining once again Aaron’s comfort with writing those characters that a twisted and off-kilter). I’d also like to give an A for effort on how the Hellfire Club took out Magneto. I’ve thought before about how a magnetar could be used in a story, and this certainly is a creative way. It’s not plausible to shoot a collapsed star out the barrel of a gun, but it is creative. Shooting face-sucking, power-draining aliens out of T-shirt guns looked almost logical by comparison.

What’s Not So Good: The flashback of Kade assembling his pint-sized platoon of sociopathic geniuses didn’t work for me. Yes, it gave us information, but (a) the information strained my suspension of disbelief and (b) shoving that information into cliche’d, hyperbolic dialogue made the speaker(s) to be obvious puppets of the writer instead of characters I’m interested in following.

Conclusion: A fine issue of Schism for X-Men fans, bringing excellent art and tense action to the table.

Grade: B+

-DS Arsenault

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