As if the title weren't enough of a clue, X-Men: Schism spotlights a pivotal moment in X-Men history: a rift in ideology from its two biggest guns--Cyclops and Wolverine. In the wake of a mutant extinction-level event, perennial team leader and wet blanket, Cyclops, rallies the X-Men to an island dubbed "Utopia" in order to establish a sense of community. His plan, however, doesn't account for any villain who might want to wipe out mutantkind in one fell swoop and who possesses enough skill to hit a target the size of a giant island. And that's exactly what happens in Schism.
As danger looms, Cyclops sends the usual heavy-hitters across the globe to stop various enemies, leaving the island's defense up to him, Wolverine, and the latest batch of young mutants who came to Uptopia to train to be X-Men. Therein lies the issue: Cyclops declares the new recruits fit for battle, while Wolverine declares the very idea to be ludicrous. Writer Jason Aaron presents both sides of the argument with equal footing, but it's still difficult to take Wolverine's position seriously. This is Wolverine, after all"”the hot-tempered Canuck with the beserker rage and fangs; he's the runt who's always spoiling for a fight. Yet, here he tells Cyclops that maybe the better idea is to evacuate the island, because someone needs to think of the children. Really, it's all an excuse to get Cyclops and Wolverine to clash, and Schism definitely delivers. This isn't a shoving match or a harsh exchange of words soon mended by standing against a common enemy (although there are plenty of verbal barbs, especially on the subject of Jean Grey). No, here are two classic X-Men at each other's throats. It's an extended, bloody fight that ends a friendship and divides an entire race.
If that weren't reason enough to get fans in the ring, the chapters are each illustrated by marquee names: Alan Davis, Frank Cho, Adam Kubert, Carlos Pacheo, Billy Tan, and Daniel AcuÃ±a. Cho's depiction of Wolverine is reminiscent of the mid-to-late 1980s (before the films influenced his look). He's hunched, hairy, and his perpetual scowl leaves grooves in his face that even his healing factor cannot fix. Acuna's pages are stylized and flashy (if not a little stiff), while Davis does what Davis does best, which is everything.
The hardcover collection is oversized, giving readers an opportunity to sit front-row at a title bout, and with artists of this caliber it's very much worth this grand scale. Two variant covers, a promotional pinup, and a team roster by Frank Cho (from pencils to finished page) comprise the supplemental material. It's a package that gives fans a believable answer to "Who would win in a fight..?" and X-Men: Schism certainly lives up to its title.