Wednesday, July 13, 2011

X Marks the Spot

I can't tell you how long it's been since I really enjoyed an X-Men comic book--or maybe I can, since the answer would be "since Joss Whedon wrapped up his Astonishing X-Men run." I've found the tangle of continuity threads that intertwine the X-family since then (and even before then in virtually every other X-Men book) to be impossible to sort, and for me they haven't been worth the efforts. Many of the characters who have played important roles are virtual cyphers as far as I'm concerned; I couldn't even bring myself to try to remember who they were, much less why they should matter.

But I can't say enough good about X-Men: Schism #1. Jason Aaron has done the virtually impossible: he's constructed a well-crafted, plot-driven X-Men story that makes perfect sense to someone who has found most X-Men books incomprehensible.

The story, which deals with human mistrust of mutants and the desire of some mutants to push back against the bigotry and discrimination, is deal with in a manner that no one has touched on since Chris Claremont and Brent Anderson's God Loves, Man Kills. Even better, though, Aaron tells his story without mimicking theirs; he takes a different approach, laying the groundwork for the inevitable split that will be at the heart of Schism. (That split is no secret; Marve has already revealed that the mutants will break off into two teams, one led by Cyclops and one led by Wolverine, and the differences will be both philosophical and operational.)

I'm thrilled that Marvel has put together a new X-Men project that's so accessible to those who have been shut out of the X-Men in recent years. I'm equally thrilled, though, that Marvel has put together a book that is so integrally focused on plot rather than on characterization nuances and continuity threads. Aaron has a story to tell, and he tells it remarkably well.

If you ever enjoyed the X-Men before, X-Men: Schism is the book you should read.

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