In its ongoing campaign to get to me to spend money on comics during my wedding preparation, Marvel's unleashing Schism, the next big X-Men event. If you're inclined to relitigate the ignominy/righteousness of Magneto and whether you're supposed to sympathize, congratulations. Marvel's raising the stakes. Very, very minor spoilers after the jump.
There are fewer than 200 mutants left alive, with very, very few new ones born. Nearly all live on a small, politically autonomous island off of San Francisco called Utopia. Marvel never really presses this point, but it's basically a benign military dictatorship of the X-Men, commanded by Cyclops. No one's got a big problem with it. Cyclops guided the mutants through the most strategically sophisticated attack on mutantkind, ever, by bigoted humanist militias. President Obama and S.H.I.E.L.D. Commander Steve Rogers gave Cyclops a medal as a form of reconciliation.
One consequence is that Cyclops now has diplomatic responsibilities. Schism starts off with Scott travelling to a U.N. arms control conference to argue for global demolition of the Sentinels. Shit goes haywire when a mutant terrorist called Kid Omega barges in to deliver an anti-human tirade and uses his powers to compel the delegates to confess their politically embarassing secrets. (The obvious Ahmedinejad stand-in -- who denies the existence of the Sentinels! Savor that -- confesses he likes to beat his kids.) Scott brings Logan, his "trusted lieutenant," who's skeptical of the whole diplomatic endeavor, despite the two men being closer than they ever have in their long, uneasy partnership. Issue one ends with Logan vindicated, as nations across the world launch a Sentinel exercise as a show of force in response.
Marvel's telegraphed the end for months. The X-Men will split: half will follow Cyclops and the other half will follow Wolverine. Yawn: a mutant Civil War. Marvel's even making the obnoxious, gimmicky decision to discontinue Uncanny X-Men [!] and X-Men: Legacy in favor of two books, Wolverine & The X-Men and a relaunched Uncanny. You know, exactly like they did with New Avengers and Mighty Avengers in the wake of Civil War?
What's not really so clear is the source of the split. The expectation is that it's going to be another integrationist debate. Cyclops has guided mutantkind since M-Day by becoming ruthless. It's been an imperative for survival: leave the Mansion, decamp for mutant-friendly SF, then leave for Utopia thanks to a Norman Osborn gambit; and fend off assaults. Logan, by contrast, is the most visibly integrated mutant there is now. He's an Avenger, even -- I know, I know, it's cheap and does nothing for the character -- so the psychopathic rogue samurai is also the de facto ambassador to humankind, whatever Cyclops' pretentions.
You see where this is going. Cyclops becomes the new Magneto. Wolverine becomes the new Professor X.
I hope they don't make it that simple, and not just because simplicity is uninteresting. Wolverine isn't just an Avenger. He's the leader of the X-Men's JSOC, the (Uncanny!) X-Force, a secret team started by Cyclops for preventive strikes on humanist militias. [Long story short: the revamped X-Force series was a classic. Arguably the darkest thing the X-writers have ever published. After the militias lost the battle, Cyclops ordered his quasi-death squad disbanded; Wolverine pretended to comply and relaunched it with a new lineup. It's good, but not as good.] Wolvie has always pushed a survivalist Third Way between Xavierism and Lensherrism, though he uneasily inclines toward Xavier. It's totally out of charcter for Wolverine to be an Avenger, anyway -- we know what's in it for Stark and Rogers, but Logan never addresses the question of what's in it for him or for the X-Men.
And Cyclops just isn't a terrorist: he sanctioned hits on Cameron Hodge and the Right, not institutions of mainstream humanity. Still, he ominously ends the first issue of Schism by urging the younger mutants to watch broadcasts of the global Sentinel mobilization. "'Hated and feared,'" Cyclops says. "We toss that around so often it loses its impact. Becomes hollow. It's good to be reminded from time to time just what that means. This is what it means."
But should they turn the question on wisdom of secession, the secessionists have the right argument. How many times do humans have to try to wipe the mutants off the map before mutants decide to keep their safe haven and deal with humanity on an equal geostrategic footing or not at all? You can do a pretty simple Israel allegory right here. If so, then it's up to Marvel to show X-Israel going too far in its definition of "survival." (Though I doubt it'll occupy San Francisco or something.) And the X-writers never address the details of how Utopia can survive. What's its trade policy? What does it produce? What's its currency? Who determines it?
But those are mere complications of secession, mitigatable in practice. The argument for integration makes way more sense before M-Day, when mutantkind's numbers were growing and it enjoyed something closer to parity with human power. Marvel has mutantkind very slowly expanding -- but still very slowly, and after its decimation. If Marvel really wants to litigate this case, it's going to end up, effectively, taking a radical stance under a circumstance where you don't have to be a radical to adopt it.