Mmm, so on second thought, maybe Schism -- the storyline Marvel promises will Divide The X-Men Forever -- isn't really about an integrationist/secessionist debate. Maybe it's about the burdens of governance in an apocalyptic world. Or maybe that's a pretext for a personal feud.
Schism has been a more enjoyable story than it has a right to be. We've known before it started how it would end: the decimated remains of Mutantkind cleaved between the followers of Cyclops and the followers of Wolverine. What we haven't known is the issue that prompts the division.
The first three issues have been a kind of misdirection. There's a mutant-terrorist incident during an arms control conference in which Scott and Logan attempt to persuade the world on a Sentinal Ban Treaty. A group of mischievous kids takes over the Hellfire Club and unleashes chaos on Cyclops' attempt at P.R. rectification. To save the day, Scott allows one of the X-babies to kill people, ignoring Wolverine's objections and basic morality.
Now, a giant super-Sentinel is racing toward Utopia, the island haven of mutantkind, while the X-Men are basically out of commission. All that's left is Cyclops, Wolverine, and a bunch of untrained mutant children. Cyclops sees an army of last resort. Wolverine sees an unconscionable utilitarian calculation by a man who used to be the X-Men's moral center. And this is what splits Wolverine and Cyclops, (supposedly) irrevocably.
So there it is: Cyclops is willing to sacrifice children; Wolverine, the instrument of X-fury, isn't willing to let him. The charitable explanation for Scott's behavior is that it's not on Wolverine to keep mutantkind alive after the extended decimation of M-Day. With only 200 mutants left alive, Cyclops is essentially mutantkind's benevolent military dictator. Mutantkind has one safe haven left in the world. There's an unstoppable super-Sentinel hurtling toward it. There are pretty much no X-Men available to defend it. There are children who want to fight. Split-second decision: can you really run away? Or do you accept the new recruits into a desparate stand?
... except that at this point I'm begging for either Uncanny X-Men or X-Men: Legacy to have actually developed what it means for Cyclops to be a dictator. We've accepted that the ersatz-America of the Marvel U allows Utopia a certain autonomy. But the books just show Cyclops leading the X-Men, not leading mutantkind. For the past few years, the X-universe has gestured at Cyclops becoming the leader of a race on the brink of extinction, not fleshed it out. I wish we could have seen Scott acting like, well, Laura Roslin on Colonial One. It would make the storyline of Schism feel like there was more at stake.
But Schism has its thumb on the scale, through the character of Wolverine. Even casual readers of the X-Men's exploits know Wolvie isn't really a psycho. He's a ronin and a survivor. The world is harsh and he does what he has to do. But he lives by a code, and Cyclops is breaking the code. Basically, Wolverine is Omar Little.
And because of that, Schism can't really let you see things Cyclops' way. Wolverine shows up with a noble and actually kind of workable plan to defeat the super-Sentinel, which is a narrative cop-out. Cyclops is obviously wrong to reject it. I won't spoil it for you. But the only way Cyclops could be interestingly wrong is if the X-Universe had... spent the past few years building up Scott Summers The Benign Dictator.
But! This is still a superhero comic, after all, and so when Cyke and Wolvie reach a loggerheads, they've got to have a giant punch-up. Which is kind of the stupidest thing ever because there's a giant super-Sentinel about to reach Utopia, and you'll recall it prompted the whole dispute in the first place. As it happens, the whole dumb-ass fight scene is redeemed by two absolutely killer lines of dialogue that encapsulate the unresolved tension at the heart of the Cyclops-Wolverine relationship: their love for Jean Grey. I cannot in good conscience spoil them for you. But they made Schism #4 sublime, despite all the deep-seated narrative problems it posseses.
Most problematic of all those problems: Um, since when does Wolverine have a problem with child soldiers? I don't recall him objecting to Shadowcat joining the X-Men when she was barely old enough for her bat mitzvah. Did he walk out in disgust of Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters when Professor X recruited the New Mutants? Hasn't his character spent nearly 30 years (in our time) training little kids to be X-Men? And didn't all that occur when the stakes were vastly lower for mutantkind, back before M-Day, when Homo Superior were set to be the next evolutionary step?
There's a way in which those questions can be answered to narrative satisfaction: Wolverine could advance the argument that Cyclops has grown power-mad, and he's not fighting for mutantkind anymore, he's fighting to preserve the order that he's instituted over mutantkind. (Which is different and more nuanced than merely fighting to preserve his regime, since that wouldn't be an interesting motivation.) But Schism isn't telling that story -- since the X-Universe hasn't prepared to tell it. What we're left with is an enjoyable comic, penned by the obviously talented writer Jason Aaron, but an arbitrary and ultimately cheap gimmick by Marvel.