X-Men: Schism was a five-issue summer event that began in July 2011. It followed the X-Men storylines that began way back in September 2004 with Avengers #500. Events in that storyline, which focused on the disassembling of the Avengers, led into the huge House of M event in June 2005. From there the X-Men became an Endangered Species (June 2007), and eventually had several major changes because of, Messiah Complex (October 2007), Messiah War (May 2009), and Second Coming (March 2010). Each of these events has been discussed earlier, but now we shift focus to Schism, in which the landscape of the X-Men and mutants as a whole will be changed forever.
It’s important to remember that during this time period the Marvel Universe as a whole went through major changes thanks to Civil War (July 2006), Secret Invasion (April 2008), Dark Reign (December 2008), Siege (January 2010), and Fear Itself (April 2011).
After all the insane events that have transpired since 2004, the X-Men were finally catching a bit of a break. With Hope now safely on Utopia, it looked as though perhaps there would be a future for mutant kind after all. Sadly that brief glimmer of hope didn’t last very long.
The story begins with Cyclopes and Wolverine attending a peace conference where Scott tries to tell the world’s leaders that it’s about time they fully remove their Sentinels (those giant mutant-killing robots created many years ago). He says that the X-Men are willing to help dismantle the robots, and do whatever it takes to make sure these vile things are never used again. Given there are only around 200 mutants left in the whole world now, it’s clear that the use of genocidal Sentinels is long past.
Several leaders take offense to claims they’re harboring Sentinels, but in the end it doesn’t matter as a mutant activist named Quentin Quire enters the conference and releases a telepathic wave that, for a brief moment, causes all the leaders of the world to spout out their dirtiest secrets. This is all caught on camera for the rest of the world to see. Needless to say this causes worldwide outrage, and is seen as a mutant-led terrorist attack. All the different countries of the world retaliate by activating the very Sentinels they said they didn’t have. Cyclopes and Wolverine fly back to Utopia to prepare for the inevitable onslaught that will follow.
It’s at this point when Quentin Quire shows up on Utopia and asks for sanctuary. Cyclopes says he will be tried by a jury of his peers, but Wolverine tells him that they should turn him in to the Avengers. Right then Steve Rogers contacts Cyclopes to offer his sympathies for everything going on, but also asks if Quentin has shown up on Utopia, and Cyclopes lies and says no. You can see this lie will eventually come back to haunt him.
Back in the rest of the world the Sentinels start running amok. Having been in storage for so long they no longer hunt mutants, but humans as well. Cyclopes has no choice but to send all the X-Men to various parts of the world so they can help those very people that hate and fear them. Meanwhile, a new X-Men museum is opening up in San Francisco, where Utopia is located next to, and Cyclopes feels this would be a very good time to flex his muscle and show the world just how powerful some of the X-Men are. He sends Magneto, Namor, Emma Frost, Colossus, and Ice Man to the grand opening, which is being televised worldwide.
While all of this is going on Wolverine feels like he’s useless just sitting at Utopia doing nothing. All his comrades are fighting elsewhere in the world, but Cyclopes benches him just in case someone decides to bring the fight to Utopia. What’s Wolverine to do if he can’t fight? That’s right, he heads to a bar. Only minutes later terrorists hit the museum and neutralize all of the most powerful X-Men with little to no effort.
These terrorists are actually the newest members of the Hellfire club, and they’re all children, as in twelve years old or so. These kids are blessed with the uncanny genius of their parents, but they’re also certifiably insane. Even though they posses no mutant powers, their combined wealth and intellect is enough to overthrow the Hellfire club, and put in motion all the events that led up to the museum attack. They hired the mutant, Quentin Quire, to use his telepathic abilities to get trigger the world incident. They helped finance governments to activate their long forgotten Sentinels, and now they just hit the museum’s opening and knocked down the biggest and best X-Men.
Cyclopes and Wolverine both try to make their way to the museum because, Idie, one of the youngest members of Utopia is the only mutant who was able to hide while the attacks were going on. Cyclopes tells her to do whatever she feels comfortable doing, i.e. attack the terrorist and prevent them from setting off an explosive device. Wolverine, who can only contact Scott, can overhear what he’s telling Idie, but can’t talk with Idie directly, tells Scott to tell her to get out of the building and they would handle it. Scott ignores his pleas, and Idie comes through and saves the day, but has to kill several Hellfire Club members in the process. Sadly the young masterminds behind this manage to get away though, long before Cyclopes and Wolverine arrive.
When they finally do arrive Wolverine is furious that Cyclopes didn’t tell Idie to get out before they arrived. In essence, Cyclopes let a teenager kill. Cyclopes says she’s a hero, but you can feel the bitterness between the two. Just when you think everything is ok, the bomb goes off, but instead of it just being a regular bomb, it’s actually a device that sucks in all metallic objects and forms a gigantic super Sentinel. It has only one goal in mind, the eradication of Utopia.
All the mutants from the museum race back to Utopia, and a choice must be made. Given there are no X-Men left to defend Utopia, what can do they do? The youngest members say they can stand and fight, but they have no combat training. Magneto, Namor, and all the other AAA-listers are in the infirmary completely useless, so can Wolverine and Cyclopes defeat this super Sentinel all by themselves? Wolverine tells the kids to get out, and commands Cyclopes to give the order to evacuate Utopia, and he’ll ignite the 2,000 pounds of explosives they have buried in the island for just such an event. Cyclopes says this is their home and if the kids want to help defend it, they have every right.
Eventually the two start fighting, but not before the super Sentinel attacks. The kids come out and together they manage to destroy it. The damage is done though. Wolverine tells Cyclopes that they’ve failed in their mission, that children shouldn’t be used as soldiers and that he can’t stand by and let this happen, so he leaves…and takes whoever wants to go with him. Cyclopes urges him not to go and especially not to divide their numbers at such a time. Sure they have the mutant messiah Hope, but only five new mutants have shown up on Cerebra since her arrival.
We’re then shown a scene where the Hellfire Club children are placing thousands of orders for the super Sentinel used on Utopia, so clearly this isn’t the last we’ve seen of these little brats.
Wolverine takes a rat pack group of kids and flies to the remains of the X-Men mansion where he says it’s about time someone start a new future here. Thus ends X-Men: Schism.
Featuring great writing, and a beautiful collection of artists, this event was one of the better X-events. The only part that didn’t sit particularly well with me was the Hellfire Club being completely overtaken by genius children. I just didn’t feel that, but everything to do with the X-Men came off perfectly. You could feel the anger and resentment in Wolverine when Idie, just a teenager, was forced to kill.
This X-Men event would have major repercussions that are still being felt today. After this series, Marvel released a one-shot called X-Men: Regenesis whereby all the X-Men from around the world decided where their allegiances lied. Half stayed on Utopia, and half left with Wolverine to recreate Xavier’s school for gifted youngsters. While this seemed bad enough, no one knew what was coming shortly afterwards because this summer, the X-Men have their greatest challenge yet, an all out war with the Avengers, and the return of the Phoenix.