It all comes down to this: Wolverine versus Cyclops to decide the fate of the X-Men.  To recap, the X-Men have been assaulted by an all-new Hellfire Club made up of little kids, led by 12-year-old Kade Kilgore, who has sent his newly developed self-building Sentinel to destroy the X-Men’s safe-haven, Utopia.  All that’s left to fend off this new super Sentinel are the young mutants in the X-Men’s care, whom Cyclops rallies to fight and defend their home.  Wolverine disagrees with allowing the children to go into battle and plants explosives all over the island in order to destroy it, taking the Sentinel with it.

The issue opens with a knock down, drag-out battle between the two men, all the while, avoiding the Sentinel’s attack.  The Sentinel is about to crush them both, when the younger mutants, led by Hope, charge into battle and as per Cyclops’ plan, effectively destroy the robot.  Wolverine has an interlude with young mutant Idie Okonko who previously used her powers to kill a pack of Hellfire Club henchmen who were threatening innocent bystanders (on the orders of Cyclops).  Wolverine is put off by how well the young girl is dealing with this action and quits the X-Men, with several mutants taking his side and leaving along with him, setting the stage for the new status quo in the X-Verse.

The start of this miniseries was a little slow to build, so this issue contrasted sharply with that and was almost all action.  People may feel that the fracturing of the X-Men happened a bit briskly, but Jason Aaron does a decent job of depicting it and making it believable.  Aaron has built a solid reputation over the past couple of years and continues to excel here.  The opening of the book is almost all action, but the second half is very dramatic with the two X-Leaders making their parting statements.

Adam Kubert is the perfect choice to pencil this last chapter, as he always draws brilliant action sequences, but he really brought it to a new level here.  The battle between Cyclops and Wolverine might have been the most brutal I’ve ever seen in a comic.  You could practically feel every blow!  I’m talking exposed bone, seered flesh… brutal!  Kubert’s no slouch at the quieter moments, either.  There’s a stunning one-page sequence with no dialogue of Wolverine coming to his tough decision that’s just perfection.

This issue felt a little open-ended, which is to be expected.  It doesn’t work as a story in and of itself, but that wasn’t the intention.  Comics are open-ended and the characters continue to grow and develop over the course of years or even decades.  (Which is one reason, I’ve always felt that more comics should be adapted to tv instead of movies.)  The X-Men have been around for five decades at this point and their world still has twists and turns coming.  This should be an interesting new chapter and as one reader who has at times been baffled by their serpentine continuity, I’m glad to get a fresh jumping on point.  Are you Team Scott or Team Logan?  (Honestly, is anyone actually going to pick just one side?)

Verdict: Buy

Writen by Jason Aaron
Pencilled by Adam Kubert
Digital Inks by Mark Roslan
Cover by Kubert and John Keith
Alternate Cover by Frank Cho and Morry Hollowell