After the knock down, drag out in ‘X-Men: Schism,’ this low key one shot sets the stage for the future of Marvel’s mutant franchise. To recap, Scott Summers has taken a more offensive tactic with the X-Men, sending them out against the forces of evil before they strike.  And in ‘Schism’ he illustrated that he was willing to send children into battle.  Wolverine, surprisingly, has taken a more passive stance, believing that children should be allowed to be students and not soldiers and has decided to re-open Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, the X-Men’s original and most famous home.

One by one, the various mutants that had made Utopia their home decide whether they are Team Cyclops or Team Logan and there are some surprising picks.  In some cases, the two leaders make pitches to the allies they want to take their side.  In other cases the mutants decide for themselves.  The younger students nearly come to blows while arguing their cases.  Various sub-teams are fractured with members choosing opposing sides.

There is a strange symbolic sequence that runs through the book, depicting caveman versions of Cyclops and Wolverine in hand to hand combat.  Every time a character chose a particular side, they would be shown in similar primitive attire standing stoically behind the leader they have chosen.  As the issue goes on, this sequence becomes more and more violent, so whenever anyone chose Wolverine, there would be a panel showing Wolverine striking Cyclops or vice versa.

Hopefully any fans that were interested in getting back into the X-Men (or any of their numerous spin-offs) picked up ‘Schism’ first.  Otherwise, I suspect they will find this volume too slow and talky.  There’s no action at all (minus the caveman fight), just the reveals of which heroes chose which side.  But after ‘Schism,’ there needed to be a quiet interlude to set up the future status quo.  I haven’t followed all of the X-Books, so I was unfamiliar with a bunch of characters.  Geez, what are there, like 50 of these guys?

The writing by Kieron Gillen was okay.  It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either.  The caveman sequence was odd at first.  I got used to it, but honestly it was kind of campy.  I’m sure it was supposed to be really deep and symbolic, but I thought it took itself so seriously, it was funny.  The dialogue overall is fine, except for the opening scene of Wolverine trying to get Ice Man to join his team, in which it seems like he’s asking him out on a date.  Wolverine: “I want you with me.  I want you there and teaching or… something.  We’ll work it out.  I haven’t got all the details yet.  But I need you there, Bobby… Bobby, don’t make me beg.  I’ve got two cans [of beer] left here.  And one is yours.  C’mon.”  And then they kissed.  (Not really.)

The art by Billy Tan is pretty good, especially the caveman sequence, as silly as that was.  Most comic artists are probably better at action scenes than talking heads, which was what this book mostly was.  The talky parts are handled just fine.  There’s not much you can do with them.  He mixes up angles nicely to keep things interesting.

One problem I had is that I think this should have served as a sampler better.  It probably would have had to have been twice as long, but I would have liked to have seen exactly what direction each book would take.  That way I could decide which books I was going to try and which I would probably not enjoy.

Guess I’ll just have to check out each book as they come out to decide, which is probably what Marvel wanted all along!  But I think if someone were picking up this book in order to get into (or back into) the X-Books, I’m not sure that it was interesting enough to hook anyone.  It’s almost like you would have had to have already been reading these titles and then selecting which books you wanted to pursue based on which characters you cared to continue following.

Verdict: Borrow

Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Billy Tan
Cover by Chris Bachalo and Tim Townsend
Variant Cover by Morry Hollowell