If you've read one issue of X-Men: Prelude to Schism, then you've more or less read them all.
But to start this review off in a more provocative way, let's just say that this entire miniseries has been one of the most shameless cash grabs that I've ever seen. There is literally no reason for this story to exist except as an excuse to separate fans from their money. This miniseries leads up to Schism in the way that Countdown led up to Final Crisis. Which means that it doesn't actually lead up to anything at all.
There's some question as to whether Paul Jenkins is being deliberately vague about the inciting threat of this story or if he genuinely doesn't know what it is himself. But so far, what little we do know doesn't match the early teases we've seen for Jason Aaron's upcoming X-Men: Schism miniseries.
For three issues prior to this, the X-Men have paced and pondered while Cyclops stared out a window to decide how they should handle a danger that is supposedly greater than any that they've ever faced before. Professor X, Magneto and Cyclops each received a spotlight issue that went over their origins and defining stories, but there wasn't any forward momentum until Cyclops made the decision to defend Utopia at the end of the last issue.
And yet the story jumps back in time for more naval gazing as the focus shifts to Wolverine. Like the earlier issues, Wolverine spends a the majority of the issue remembering things that were expanded upon years ago. Jenkins even spends six pages rehashing Wolverine: Origin, a miniseries he wrote ten years ago! Then he spends another five pages riffing on Barry Windsor-Smith's Weapon X story.
That's half of the comic spent on flashbacks that fans will either know immediately or they will be lost because they've never read the source material. This is a cliffnotes version of Wolverine's life, except it's more like a cliffnotes knockoff with most of the key chapters missing.
There is one kind of hilarious moment during a rehash of last issue's verbal confrontation between Wolverine and Namor where Wolverine admits to himself that he's goading Namor and saying harsh things in order to rally the troops and raise morale. It's not a very convincing argument for his actions and it makes him seem like a douche.
The one really affecting moment comes late in the book when Wolverine is impressed by seeing Professor X and Magneto shake hands in accord. It's not that the moment hasn't happened before, but Wolverine notes that it's one of the few times that Xavier and Magneto have ever seen eye-to-eye about anything.
However, the issue's biggest saving grace is the artist, Clay Mann, who recently wrapped up his work on the Age of X storyline. During the previously mentioned flashback sequences, Mann's style actually seems to invoke both Andy Kubert from Origin and Windsor-Smith from Weapon X. Given the lack of action on the rest of the pages, Mann does what he can with the characters. Those pages are still a chore to read, but without Mann's artwork this issue wouldn't be worth picking up at all.
If you're a fan of Mann's art or an X-Men completest, then you'll probably buy this issue. But if you're neither of those things, you're better served waiting for the actual X-Men: Schism miniseries.
Crave Online Rating: 3/10