X-Men Trade Post: Schism, Uncanny & Wolverine And The X-Men

x-men schism X-Men: Schism (Marvel)
Written by Jason Aaron with Kieron Gillen, drawn by Carlos Pacheco, Frank Cho, Daniel Acuna, Alan Davis, Adam Kubert & Billy Tan
Collects X-Men: Schism #1-5, X-Men: Regenesis #1

I’ve gone about reading recent X-Men comics a bit backwards. I actually started off with the first volume of Bendis’ All-New X-Men, but was confused about what was going on. Then I read the first Wolverine & The X-Men by Jason Aaron and Avengers Vs. X-Men but realized I needed to go back even a bit farther. I finally figured out that all roads lead back to Schism, so I got that as well as the first Kieron Gillen volume of Uncanny X-Men.

I actually read the X-Men pretty consistently during the run up to Messiah Complex, but that’s about my experience with these characters in this medium. After MC, the X-Men scored their own island, called it Utopia and seemed to be doing alright. Then Schism went down, shook things up and a bold new direction was kicked off in its wake.

In Schism, Quentin Quire, a teen anarchist mutant from Grant Morrison’s run on New X-Men, kicked off some trouble for the X-Men, but the real brains behind the operation are a bunch of evil, super smart kids who take over the Hellfire Club in an effort to make money and stir things up for mutants. In the process Cyclops and Wolverine come to blows over whether the kids on Utopia should be thrust into battle or be allowed to bail. At the end of the ordeal — which involves a lot of Sentinels sold and designed by the Hellfire Club kids — Wolverine decides to restart the school while Cyclops continues to train the children to defend themselves and mutant kind.

As an event, I thought Schism was well put together and presented. Sometimes these events with a clear endpoint (split the X-teams) feel really telegraphed and weak from a storytelling perspective. In this case, though, by making this an issue with valid points on both sides, Aaron and company do what Civil War couldn’t in my mind: make me understand both sides.

I also enjoyed the Who’s Who of X-artists doing their thing on this series. I’m not always a fan of the idea of splitting up a series like this with different artists, especially ones like this that are very distinct, but in this case, I liked it BECAUSE these artists all have such distinct styles. They all came to play and the results are great superhero action.

wolverine & the x-men volume 1Wolverine & the X-Men, Vol. 1 (Marvel)
Written by Jason Aaron, drawn by Chris Bachalo with Duncan Rouleau, Matteo Scalera & Nick Bradshaw
Collects Wolverine & The X-Men #1-4

As I mentioned, I was a bit mixed up and actually read Wolverine & The X-Men after AVX which is not the best order. After his disagreement with Cyclops, Wolverine has gone off to form his own school called The Jean Grey School For Gifted Youngsters. Wolverine, Kitty Pryde, Iceman, Beast and a few other X-folks including a good deal of the younger mutants all came along for the ride as well.

The first volume features an attack by the new Hellfire Club (a bunch of punk kids) and the introduction of a few new members like the new Krakoa, a nerdy Brood and a boy that sure looks an awful lot like Apocalypse (he’s from Uncanny X-Force which Wolverine also starred in at that time). I also really enjoyed the art by Chris Bachalo (who drew much of the Supernovas story that I’m also a big fan of) and Nick Bradshaw who blew me away with his part in Escape From The Negative Zone (dude’s like a cartoonier Art Adams). My only complaint is that the printing on this particular book didn’t seem to do Bachalo’s artwork justice.

I’m glad that Aaron wrapped up the younger Hellfire Club story, at least partially, because I kind of hate the idea of killer kids in general. I appreciate the idea of balancing the physical superiority of heroes against the smaller-of-stature children, but I always have a hard time buying into the idea that children are these awful, murderous creatures. It’s a personal hang-up of mine that doesn’t reflect on the story at all. Anyway, I’ll definitely be back for more of this book because it had a really fun tone, set up a lot of interesting relationships and makes me want to find out what happens to them next.

Uncanny X-Men By Kieron Gillen Vol 1Uncanny X-Men By Kieron Gillen Volume 1 (Marvel)
Written by Kieron Gillen, drawn by Carlos Pacheco, Rodney Buscemi, Brandon Peterson, et al
Collects Uncanny X-Men #1-4

With mutant life hanging in the balance, Cyclops develops a simple plan: make the humans so petrified of his squad that they won’t be jerks to less flashy mutants. This so-called Extinction Team consists of Cyke, Emma Frost, Magneto, Magik, Colossus, Storm, Danger and Hope. In this first outing they go up against Mr. Sinister who has siphoned the power of the Dream Celestial and built a city of his own clones.

The first three issues are pretty tight and do a solid job of both explaining and showing what Cyclops’ mission is. I’ve always had a hard time understanding how the people in the Marvel U can be so bigoted against mutants when they live in a world filled with other people with strange powers, abilities and afflictions, so it was interesting to see Cyke go on the offensive against those people. All in all though, I’m not sure how long I’ll be on board this book. I loved WATX because it was fun and a bit light, but this one, like Cyclops himself, might just be too serious for me at this point. Still, I’ve got the next few volumes of both requested from the library and will let you know how those reading experiences go!

Books Of Oa: Green Lantern Wanted Hal Jordan & Green Lantern Corps The Dark Side Of Green

GREEN LANTERN: WANTED HAL JORDAN (DC)
Written by Geoff Johns, drawn by Ivan Reis & Daniel Acuna
Collects Green Lantern #14-20
I fully intended to do these Books Of Oa posts on a more regular basis, but got a little caught up with the holidays and all that. So, I’m going to double up for this week and hopefully get back on track. So, let’s jump right into it. Wanted is essentially split into two parts. They break down in a story sense, but also a kind of thematic sense: stuff that’s trying to clear up One Year Later and stuff that builds towards the bigger Green Lantern story. Picking up right after the previous volume Revenge Of The Green Lanterns, we finally find out what happened to Hal and his fellow co-pilots during the year jump which was essentially them crashing their plans and becoming POWs. Then, in the modern time, Cowgirl, one of the pilots, flies off to attack the terrorists who tortured them, but it’s up to Hal as GL to save her and bring her back. This pits him against the new Global Guardians and new Rocket Reds who happen to be mind controlled by one of a group of bounty hunters after him lead by Amon Sur, the son of Abin Sur, the person who held Hal’s ring before him. Amon’s hacked off at Hal and the GLC because he thinks the ring should be his to wield. This is the stuff that matters to the bigger story, not so much the Global Guardians stuff which really felt like it was going to go somewhere when it came out, but that wasn’t the case. I don’t believe they’ve been mentioned ever again, though the Rocket Red have been, especially in the pages of Justice League: Generation Lost. When these issues were coming out, they were very confusing. This time around, they tie in to the larger story, but it definitely feels like a dropped ball or one of the many times when Johns introduced/reintroduced a character/characters but never really explained much about them (see Teen Titans for more examples).

The other part of the story involves the Star Sapphire returning to Earth, first inhabiting Carol Ferris and then Cowgirl because Hal has the hots for her. This is your pretty standard Star Sapphire story until Carol starts talking about Sinestro, a coming war and the creation of a pink ring at the very end, with the Zamarons swearing to collect one of each color lantern (or something). As it turns out, the Zamarons absorb love like the Green Lanterns absorb willpower from the universe or the Sinestro Corps does fear. We see a lot of this in flashbacks along with flashbacks between Hal and Carol so it’s a good history lesson as well. Being a nerd I noticed a few continuity errors while reading, specifically when it came to flashbacks showing the Guardians and Zamarons. For one thing, female Guardians didn’t exist until after Kyle Rayner recreated them when he had the Ion power the first time. There were never male Zamarons. Also, if memory serves, the Guardians didn’t have names until the late 80s/early 90s which wasn’t a good sign for them, but Ganthet is referred to by name at some point.

Johns does a good job of weaving the two stories together, even having John Stewart posing for months as one of the bounty hunters who was after him. If memory serves, John hadn’t really been seen much since Rebirth. A lot of groundwork is laid for Sinestro Corps War (we see Qwardians enslaved on their own planet and Arkillo sending yellow rings out to bring trainees back to him, curiously, he’s wearing a purple and black suit instead of yellow and black) and even Blackest Night here, but all the OYL stuff just feels tacked on and not followed through on. I’ve noticed a bit of a pattern for Johns’ early arcs on this book, they usually involve Hal dealing with his regular life before running off to deal with some cosmic disturbance. That’s what you’d expect from a space cop, but it sometimes feels like we’re left hanging when we’re trying to learn more about Hal or his life. After this, he spends a good deal of time fighting in SCW which I’ll hopefully get to reviewing next week.

GREEN LANTERN CORPS: THE DARK SIDE OF GREEN (DC)
Written by Dave Gibbons & Keith Champagne, drawn by Patrick Gleason, Dave Gibbons & Tom Nguyen
Collects Green Lantern Corps #7-13
This collection of GLC issues is an interesting. It includes the story that the collection takes it’s name from which was written by Champgne and drawn by Gleason which introduces an established, but never seen subsection of the Corps dubbed the Corpse. It’s a black ops unit lead by a shapeshifting Durlan by the name of Von Daggle. Guy Gardner and a rookie butterfly-looking GL named R’amey have been sent by the Guardians to give Daggle a message. As it turns out, they’re his new recruits and they’re tasked with getting the rock that gave Captain Comet his powers off the Dominator planet, because one Dominator still pissed about the events depicted in the Invasion series has used it on himself to make him physically and psychically superior. It’s a pretty rad idea with lots of fun little easter eggs for continuity geeks. The bummer of the whole thing is that, even as cool as it is, I believe Geoff Johns has said this is basically a one-off story that will not be referenced again by him. That doesn’t mean that no one else will come along and once again revive the Corpse, but just think of how cool it would be if Daggle popped back up in the next big GL story line?

Once Gibbons is back to writing the book, we’re returned to his cop show-style writing where we get lots and lots of little segments, like Soranik trying to once again help people on her home planet of Korugar, Isamot Kol going to Mogo but leaving after being creeped out by Green Man, Guy Gardner getting accused of murder and the introduction of Bzzt, Mogo’s partner in the Corps who looks like a house fly. It turns out that most of these little stories lead to a larger conspiracy as it turns out that a yellow fungus has been invading Mogo along with many Corpsmen and women who have visited him for psychiatric help. I noticed the yellow things flying around people in the previous trade, but couldn’t remember if it was an overture to the Sinestro Corps, but as it turns out, it is. Mogo takes a pretty big hit at the end of the story, but he’ good for the most part. It’s not the worst thing that will happen to him. All of this leads right into Sinestro Corps War, which kicks off with a one-shot and uses Mogo along with a slew of other Lanterns in an all out war.