X-Men: Schism #4 Review
- Published on Thursday, 29 September 2011 01:00
- Written by Kevin
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X-Men: Schism has been an event that has had many ups and downs throughout the first three issues. I have enjoyed how Jason Aaron has presented the two sides of this story in Cyclops and Wolverine. There has been some great character work for both sides as they each react to the new Hellfire Club and Sentinels attacking mutants.
On the downside, there has been a lack of character work for most of the X-Men. The rest of the X-Men have been used as background throughout Schism. With only two issues left, can Aaron deliver a strong sprint to the finish or will the weaknesses of the event overtake the strengths? Let’s find out with X-Men: Schism #4.
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Alan Davis
Inker: Mark Farmer
Colorist: Jason Keith
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: On Utopia, Cyclops returns with Idie and tells her to not worry about what she just did. Hope and the others arrive and take Idie to go recover while Cyclops looks at a picture of the original X-Men.
Cyclops contacts Dr. Nemesis to get an update on the Sentinel attacking San Francisco. Dr. Nemesis says that the Sentinel is absorbing all the metal around it and becoming bigger and stronger.
As the only X-Man still standing in San Francisco, Wolverine is battling the new Sentinel with little success. Wolverine is blasted across the ocean, near Utopia.
Seeing that the Sentinel is heading towards Utopia, Cyclops releases a full-power optic blast at the Sentinel. Unfortunately, the blast only slows the Sentinel down.
As Cyclops is recovering, Hope and the rest of her team arrive to tell him that they will stand and fight. This does not go over well with Wolverine who is against using kids as soldiers. Cyclops and Wolverine argue until it gets to the point where Cyclops says that those who want to run should run and those who will stand and fight to stand and fight with him. Only Wolverine leaves and heads inside the base.
Inside, Wolverine is unlocking his safe. Quire enters to see what he is up to. Not having time to waste on Quire, Wolverine stabs him.
Just as Cyclops, Hope and her group are about to make there stand, Wolverine appears again. He tells them that he has placed 2,000 pounds of explosive all over Utopia. He goes on to order Hope and her group of the island.
Just as Hope and the others are leaving, Cyclops and Wolverine argue about what Wolverine is doing. Their argument gets so heated that upon mentioning Jean Grey they start brawling. The brawl is so intense that they both forget about the Sentinel heading towards the island. As it approaches, the Sentinel is about to strike Cyclops and Wolverine down just as they each go for the finishing blow on one another. End of issue.
The Good: X-Men: Schism #4 is a summary of what has been the case for the latest X-Men event from the beginning. Jason Aaron continues to portray Cyclops and Wolverine as the top dogs of the X-Men stable as they show how they balance each other out. But for that great character work given to the two stars of X-Men: Schism, the rest of the X-Men have little to do than be props in the background.
I continue to enjoy how Aaron has characterized Cyclops and Wolverine. As he has shown throughout his Wolverine run, Aaron has a great grasp of the character and he shows that same masterful grasp with Cyclops. In many ways this is the best written Cyclops has been since Josh Whedon wrote the character during Astonishing X-Men. The character has an aura of authority that is fully realized even when Wolverine questions it.
Not only does Cyclops carry with him an aura of authority and power, but also that of a person who has been fighting for that for a long time. As someone that has been training as a soldier under Xavier’s original X-Men team, Cyclops understands when to act as a father figure and when to be a leader that expects as much from himself as he does his team.
Early on we see how Cyclops tries to council Idie about what she did in San Francisco early on by trying to elevate her worries. It was a good way to show how Cyclops, someone who has been put in the same position Idie was in many times in his past, understands what her actions mean. He has had to make the same decisions Idie has done and he uses that to relate to her as they talk. That was nicely tapped off with Cyclops looking at the framed photo of the original X-Men that he was a part of.
Aaron smartly uses this scene to build up the conflict later on in the issue as Cyclops turns on the switch of the leader of the X-Men. As soon as he turned on that switch, Cyclops didn’t see Idie, Hope and the others as kids like he did at the beginning during the calm of the story. Instead, Cyclops saw them as X-Men who must stand and fight to save the mutant race like the other X-Men have done in the past.
This transition from this character that feels empathy for the kids to a focused leader was a great way to grow the conflict between Cyclops and Wolverine. As much as Wolverine has denied it in the past, he has always had the role of being the role model of the new generation. As someone who has lived a long time and seen countless battles, Wolverine has become someone that the younger X-Men look up to.
And now that Wolverine is not denying this and finally sees how he affects the kids around him he knows that they should be just that, kids. Hope and the others should enjoy life as much as they can because he knows there may not be enjoyable times ahead because of what he has seen. It is good character progression for Wolverine to finally accept this fact of being a role model as we have seen him train various X-Men throughout his time as on the team.
This does not mean Aaron has Wolverine become a completely light character. No, instead what we see is Wolverine taking this role the only way he knows and that is by force. After following all of Cyclops orders and playing the faithful right hand for him, Wolverine is going to get his authority across by telling Cyclops enough is enough. He is not playing around or wants to argue with him anymore.
Aaron does a good job presenting both sides as Cyclops and Wolverine argue at the end of the issue. Both present two sides that the reader can understandably take. And it was very cool to see the final straw for both characters was the subject of Jean Grey.
As soon as Jean was mentioned you knew the gloves were off. The fight that it leads to was great as there was some good back and forth between these two long-standing X-Men. Though some expect Wolverine to own Cyclops, I like that Aaron did not show Wolverine dominating the fight because Cyclops has had so much training in order to stand-up in a fight against someone like Wolverine.
What makes the fight even better is the fact that it was drawn by the masterful hand of Alan Davis. Throughout the issue, Davis draws the X-Men and their universe how you expect to see it when picking up an X-Men comic book. From cover to cover this was a fantastic looking issue.
Davis' Sentinel looks especially fantastic. That was how an unstoppable machine should look like. It was carried over to the choreography of the final fight at the end. Aaron allowed Davis to tell the story at the end and Davis delivered and then some.
The Bad: Continuing the thread of my reviews for previous issues of X-Men: Schism, the weakness of this event continues to be the lack of X-Men outside of Cyclops and Wolverine. As much as I have enjoyed the amount of character work Aaron has done with Cyclops and Wolverine, Schism would be much better if we saw the rest of the X-Men give their opinions. If Aaron really wants to get over the fact there is this split between the X-Men than it would be much more effectively done if we saw the other X-Men taking sides or at least sharing their thoughts.
The X-Men are not just a team of a few select characters. What has made the X-Men franchise so special in the eyes of many fans, including myself, is the fact that there is such a rich collection of heroes and villains that encompass their side of the Marvel Universe. More than any franchise, the X-Men have a wide range of characters of who we have seen be able to voice their own unique opinions on various obstacles the mutant race has had to face.
Unfortunately, Aaron does not use this fact of having so many rich characters to play with. Even a character like Hope who played an enormous role in the previous X-Men event, X-Men: Second Coming, plays little role in this issue. She, like Emma and the other X-Men, are nothing more than background characters that never are given the voices we know they should have. Which is sad because the argument that Cyclops and Wolverine have throughout this event would only be helped by having the other X-Men more involved.
This issue also suffers from the lack of build-up of the main villains of the story. Though Aaron get across the fact that the new Sentinel is extremely powerful, we never see the Hellfire Club or the other human opposition in this issue. At this late juncture of this big event, I would expect to see the villains to play more of an important role the closer we get to the finish. Unfortunately for the villains, and the reader, they are pushed aside for what looks to be Aaron’s pet characters in Cyclops and Wolverine.
Overall: X-Men: Schism #4 is an example of the greatest strengths and weakness that have been present in every issue of the latest X-Men event. Jason Aaron again gives us plenty of great character work for Cyclops and Wolverine as well as some cool action sequences.
On the other side of things, the lack of the other X-Men and build-up of the villains for this event hinder this story. The good thing for X-Men: Schism #4 is that it had the fantastic talent of Alan Davis to balance out some of the weaker moments of this issue with his phenomenal art. Still, X-Men: Schism #4 is not for everyone. This issue is really for fans of the current X-Men.