Generation Hope #11: This issue is a weird one. In some ways, it's the culmination of tension that Gillen's been building for a while, with Laurie finally resisting Hope's control over her, a control that Gillen makes more clear than he previously has is intentional and not merely inspirational. The fight between them feels more organic -- and more intuitive -- than the one between Cyclops and Wolverine in "X-Men: Schism" #4 (detailed below). But, at the same time, it's still obviously motivated by the "X-Men: Schism" storyline. The conversation with the former "New X-Men" is a little...dull, mainly, I think, because at this point in the story Gillen fell into the trap that Aaron also faces, with the characters becoming more mouthpieces for philosophies than characters with emotions. I'm intrigued who's going to be on the team come "Generation Hope" #12.
X-Factor #225: Sometimes, I forget that Peter David is not a normal comic-book writer. I mean, we all know his dialogue and characterizations are top notch. But, he also exhibits a command over the past, present, and future of his characters that really makes this book as amazing as it is. Most writers would've left the resolution of last issue's surprise ending dangling for a few months (if they got to it at all). David, however, leaps right into the story in this issue. He occasionally drags on an arc an issue too long (I remember feeling a little bored during the middle of the Vegas arc and totally over the JJJ, Jr. arc by its end), but he does manage to keep momentum going between arcs. In the last few months, we've gone from the JJJ, Jr. mystery arc to the Rahne's baby arc to this new creepy one, and he's moved us fairly seemlessly between them. Moreover, not only does he not drop stories that he hints are coming, he also doesn't drop stories that have already happened. He's slowly but surely playing out the consequences of Layla's resurrection of Guido in the JJJ, Jr. arc (the scene where Madrox confronts her sotte voce was excellent), and it's pretty clear that the aftermath of Rahne rejecting her baby isn't going to be forgotten any time soon. All the better (yes, I'm raving at this point), he takes the time to keep even longer-simmering sub-plots moving. It seems we might soon get some long overdue answers about Layla and David may be the author that finally clarifies Longshot and Shatterstar's relationship. But, as if all these overarching reasons aren't proof enough that "X-Factor" is one of the best books on the market, the story itself in this issue is fun and intriguing. David plays up some jealousy on Shatterstar's part when Rictor runs to celebrate the use of his newly rediscovered powers with Rahne, and Madrox gets in some excellent one-liners. ("I don't actually, but I'm just acting on herd instinct.") Also, who expected Sarah to be resurrected and attack the team? All in all, an excellent issue of a spectacular series.
X-Men #18: Meh. I'm not really feeling this arc. I know I'm supposed to be all "OMG! The FF AND the X-Men! Doom and Magneto! OMG!" But, I'm just not. The reveal that Doom was playing Scorpius all along was pretty predictable. Although Gischler gives us some fun moments (I thoroughly enjoyed Emma and Scott's conversation), overall it's a pretty standard middle act of a "our heroes are in trouble" story.
X-Men: Schism #4: I've reserved judgment on this series for a while. The idea that the rivalry between Cyclops and Wolverine would eventually tear the team apart is one that makes intuititve sense to anyone who's read a "X-Men" comic at any point over the last 20 or so years. The problem, though, is that the positions that the two of them take do not make intuitive sense. At the end of the day, I simply do not buy Wolverine's sudden conversion to pacificism. I'm oversimplifying it, obviously. Aaron does attempt to reconcile Wolverine's position with his character, having Logan assert that he kills so children don't have to do so. But, this argument just doesn't make sense for the guy who taught Shadowcat and Jubilee how to fight. The problem is that, if you don't buy this divide between Cyclops and Wolverine, you don't buy the whole endeavor, which is where I find myself. The whole point of "Schism" is that, after it, we're going to get two camps of X-Men, each one aligned around a character -- Cyclops or Wolverine -- and the philosophy he embodies. The problem is that, even conceding Wolverine's newfound "no kids fighting" position, I don't really see that much difference between them. OK, Wolverine doesn't think children should be sent into battle. So, what? His side isn't going to have anyone under the age of 18? Is that it? Is this whole schism based around whether or not you get carded at the door of the X-Mansion? Once upon a time, I could've believed a world where Wolverine staked out a more aggressive position than Scott, but, given Cyclops' behavior over the last few years, even that approach would seem a stretch. The fact that the two of them have been so closely alligned lately makes this schism all the more confusing. Aaron (and the other X-book authors) haven't really been telling a story of Wolvie coming to a pacifist position over the last few months or years. As such, it feels rushed. He does raise the possibility, with the Jean conversation, that the schism might not really about philosophy at the end of the day. Maybe it's just about them hating each other, maybe it's just about Scott going too far, maybe it's just about the girl. At this point, though, I think it's time to wrap up this whole affair. Although it's a much tighter and better crafted story than "Fear Itself," I'm ready for it to end, just like "Fear Itself," so we can start telling interesting stories again.