Thursday, May 17, 2012

X-Men: Prelude to Schism

Writer: Paul Jenkins
Artists: Roberto De La Torre, Andrea Mutti, Will Conrad, Clay Mann
Collects: X-Men: Prelude to Schism #1-4

This book is a bit of a failure; on the one hand it's generally enjoyable, but it's not really a prelude to anything, which is problematic when the main reason you're likely to read this book is because of it's "prelude" branding.

If you didn't already know what Schism was going to be about - or what the differences are that would lead to it - then this isn't the place to look, because you won't find anything about it here. There's a lot of hand wringing over a vague "threat" but not much else. Everything is so ill defined they could literally be preparing for just about any kind of threat from Krakoa to the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

Each issue is centered around the same fifteen minutes, just with a shift in POV, and those fifteen or so minutes aren't exactly riveting. Cyclops ponders the course of action! People talk! Wolverine wants to fight whatever the thing that's coming is! Kitty Pryde wants to run from it! Watch Cyclops consult two different advisors on what he should do, then stand around and think about how he can't control his powers without a visor! Edge of your seat excitement all around!

So, yeah. Not exactly going to be in the Eisner nominations. Even being as horrifically vague as it is, the book still seems to contradict Schism; Wolverine here is gung-ho about everyone going to fight, when Schism's big split is over Wolverine feeling that the X-Men have been drafting kids to war too much for too long. This miniseries could have been drafted at the last minute or in the works for a while, but either way Jenkins clearly wasn't told much about where it was going.

Much of the book is inner monologue and flashbacks. I can't say I'm a fan of all of it - a fair bit of it may as well be the POV characters mentally fellating Cyclops - but it does allow Jenkins an opportunity to highlight the differences of each characters approach to life and struggle. This goes hand in hand with flashbacks detailing key moments in the early lives of each character. It's nice to see - I even learned a thing or two I didn't know prior - but while it's ultimately pleasant to read, I didn't go into this hoping to get the life story and origins of the four principle characters. Plus it doesn't really lead to Schism in any appreciable way.

Overall, this was a very weird read; it has its good points but it doesn't hit its stated goals in any real way. Paul Jenkins makes it readable. But was it necessary? I'm afraid the answer to that one is a no.

The Score: 5.5 out of 10

A bizarre collection that feels as though it were green lit to get an extra tie-in volume out there. Schism itself looks like a pretty good read, but I'm afraid this is just okay. It doesn't even truly serve as a prelude, which kills any worth the book may have had. I cannot recommend it.

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