The second issue of “X-Men: Prelude to Schism” is much in the same vein as the first. The X-Men face an unspecified, but deadly and potentially genocidal threat (for a change…) and Cyclops seeks the advice of his friends, mentors, and even former enemies to decide the course of action.
Where last issue focused on the relationship between Xavier and Cyclops, this issue focuses on Magneto, whose discussion with Scott is framed in terms of his respect for the man he first met as a student, and the similarities he sees with those he has known and respected in the past.
Critically, for X-Men fans, this marks the first time that the events of Magneto’s origin story have been acknowledged on the page, though it’s strange that Jenkins felt the need to bring the revelations of Pak’s “Magneto: Testament” series into continuity so definitively; A lot of effort was initially made to make them as ambiguous as possible. The idea that Erik would suddenly drop the pseudonym and ask Cyclops, of all people, to use his “real” name – something that, as far as we know, even Xavier never knew – doesn’t really ring true.
Likewise, the idea that Magneto sees his father in Cyclops is a difficult observation to believe. The story has redefined their relationship, through only a wholesale revision of Magneto which doesn’t work in the context of his past, despite attempts to juxtapose the developments alongside it.
One of Jenkins’ recent works for Marvel — the critically hammered “Fallen Sun” one-shot –had similar problems with it. Although Jenkins has always been a character-focused writer, his use of their history has been overly revisionist. It’s so eager to be earnest and meaningful that it somehow misses the mark entirely.
This might be forgivable if the book had any plot to speak of, but since it’s nothing more than a character piece, it must live and die by its characterization. We learn very little about the threat the X-Men are facing, nor what Cyclops is deliberating on, nor what insight the counsel of his friends is bringing him. It feels artificial for the characters to be dancing around the plot, damaging an already problematic premise.
On the plus side, this issue does largely lay out the facts of Magneto’s life in chronological order for the first time since “Testament” was released, which is likely to be helpful for those who missed the series. And the art, itself, is good. The results are technically competent, but unengaging. Most damningly, the book is a poor trailer for Schism itself.