When I first heard writer Jason Aaron was taking over Incredible Hulk from Greg Pak, I was kind of worried. After an initially great run with Wolverine, Aaron’s recent work has been kind of sloppy and awkward. Having read Schism #2, I am no longer worried. I am absolutely terrified. At the risk of unleashing hell on my head, this second issue of the big X-Men story arc is awful. The story plummets so quickly into a clichéd swamp of bad ideas that it’s hard to catch up. Aaron has always had a problem with blowing the end, as with Astonishing Wolverine & Spider-Man and more recently Wolverine, but this is a total mess and Schism stands only at issue 2.
The biggest problem is the new Hellfire Club, which is now being led by a psychopathic twelve-year-old boy and his little kid buddies. What? The unsettling idea of a little kid being this maniacal leader is instantly undone by his little kid cronies, who are so cliché it’s almost laughable. In one scene, the two little kid cronies are trying to work out a deal with some space assassins (they are being paid by Intergalactic Credits. I kid you not). This little blonde girl in pigtails is cooing over a slimy space slug calling it her “little kitty” and when the giant killer alien manhandles her, she flips out and slices him to pieces screaming, “I hate your face”. Really? The cute little girl that snaps and becomes a murdering monster, that’s the best we get for the “biggest arc in X-Men history.” Later, there’s a big museum opening where the first confrontation between the X-Men and the pre-school Hellfire Club will go down in issue 3, and the little kids are wearing spooky masks. The whole thing reads like a straight to DVD horror movie.
Meanwhile, the Sentinels that everybody wanted to unleash don’t work, which was apparently all part of little boy Hellfire Club’s plan. Apparently, he’s such a super genius he figured out that the robots wouldn’t work and that the X-Men would have to deal with them. These attacks are part of how Schism #2 goes from bad to worse. A group of Iranians unleash a Sentinel that fouls up and starts attacking the people. A team of female X-Men show up to deal with the situation, which forces one of the Iranian men to say “They sent their women to humiliate us!” to which one of the female X-Men retorts “Did I also tell you I’m Jewish?” Wow, way to play on America’s love of stereotypes and underlying racism to shill your comic book. The part might have had some impact if it fit into the story at all; instead it seems like some kind of personal swipe. I’m not saying it is, it’s just so out of place that’s the first thought I had.
The big split between Cyclops and Wolverine, the thing that Schism is supposed to be about, starts off just as shaky as the rest of the book. When Quentin Quire, the mutant teen responsible for the kick off of all this hostility, shows up in Utopia, Wolverine wants him to be taken to Steve Rogers as a criminal. Cyclops wants Quire to remain in Utopia and have his trial there, a move that’s completely illogical and stands outside of the way Cyclops has always approached a situation. It makes even less sense due to the timing. Why would you harbor a fugitive at a time when mutants are shown in a negative light? The whole thing reads like an easy way to get Cyclops and Wolverine all pissed at each other.
Frank Cho’s art is the final nail in the coffin for me. I can’t believe when he turned this junk in it was green lit by Marvel. Cyclops looks like the dad from 101 Dalmatians and Wolverine looks like a cross between Wolfman Jack and one of the old guys from the Muppet Show. I also was confused why, when Wolverine looked angry, he was drawn as if he had a mouth guard. The art has no flow, no sense of style, its just panel after panel of shoddy work. Schism may be the thing that destroys the X-Men, but it won’t have anything to do with super villains or Sentinels.
CRAVE ONLINE RATING: 2/10