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"Messiah War" Review

In Comic Reviews on June 26, 2009 at 8:00 am
X-Force/Cable: Messiah War

X-Force/Cable: Messiah War

“Messiah War” Parts 1 – 7

Writer: Dwayne Swierczynski (Cable); Craig Kyle & Christopher Yost (X-Force)

Artists: Ariel Olivetti (Cable); Clayton Crain (X-Force)

I know, I know.  I rant and rave too much about the X-Men’s current direction.  Yes, there have been some missteps.  Yes, there have been some misled, horrible arcs (”Sisterhood”, I’m glaring at you).  But “Messiah CompleX” set a new direction for the brave new world of Marvel’s merry mutants, after their numbers were reduced to around 187 post “M Day”.  “Messiah CompleX” was announcd as the first part of a trilogy of stories, and the second part is here in a crossover between the surprisingly well written and undeniably popular Cable and X-Force, titled “Messiah War”.

For those of you who haven’t been keeping up, here’s the abridged version: “Messiah CompleX” saw the birth of the first mutant child ever since M Day (when the Scarlet Witch rendered most of the X genes in the world useless).  The X-Men pick this up on Cerebro, but the Reavers (who seek to eliminate all mutants) have also picked this up and massacre a town to find the child, but to no luck.  The child was rescued by Cyclops’ son Nathan Christopher Dayspring Askani Summers (Gesundheit…), a.k.a. Cable, who had been missing in the time stream for a while now.  Cable’s reappearance marked the betrayal of longtime X-Man Lucas Bishop, who believed that the so-called Messiah Child would bring about the bleak, totalitarian future he came from.  Reluctantly, Cyclops allowed Cable to flee in to the future with the child, hoping to keep it safe.  Cable’s self-titled solo series has Cable and the Messiah Child (whom he eventually named Hope) traveling through time, pursued by an increasingly more insane Bishop, who had previously damaged Cable’s time travel device, limiting him to only being able to jump forward in time.  Over in X-Force, Cyclops has declared that mutantkind will do what it must to survive, and has organized a wetworks team (appropriately called X-Force) with the sole intention of tracking down and killing those who would threaten the remaining members of their race, while Cyclops searches for his son and the Messiah Child, knowing that Cable not immediately returning means something must have gone wrong.

“Messiah War” begins with Cyclops having finally pinpointed the location of Cable and Hope.  X-Force is pulled out in the middle of a mission and sent into the future, where they have 24 to find and rescue the Messiah Child before they are forcibly pulled back to the present.  In a bleak future, Bishop has recruited Cable’s cloned twin Stryfe, who he has already helped take down Apocolypse, with the goal of using Stryfe to take down Cable while Bishop kills Hope.  Without giving too much away, much violence ensues, there’s some pretty cool cameos from future versions of Deadpool and Apocolypse, and the day is…well, I wouldn’t really say saved.

The biggest problem with the story here is that there are a few loopholes.  Why is Cable so reluctant to tell X-Force that he hasn’t returned because he can’t?  He seems unneccessarily aggressive towards the team.  Its likely due to his goal of laying low so as not to show up in history books, but this is never explicitly stated.  And what’s more, we’re never told what X-Force is actually expected to do once they find Cable and the Messiah Child.  They can’t bring them back with them, and they’re definitely not going to kill them, so…what was the intention there?  There’s also the question of why Angel would choose to restore Apocolypse.  Its a pretty neat moment, but it seems to exist just for the payoff at the end, and to set Apocolypse back up as a looming threat in the future of the X-universe.  All in all though, Angel of all people should understand that when you get the chance to kill Apocolypse, you take it.  And unfortunately, the ending only affects Stryfe and Bishop.  Everyone else walks away in pretty much the same place they were before: Cable and Hope are still stuck leaping forward through time, and X-Force returns to finish the mission they abandoned.

If you can look past the loopholes, its still an enjoyable story.  Deadpool is fun, as he usually is, and the final battle in Stryfe’s fortress is a battle full of twists and surprises.  The biggest problem is really that the creative teams between the two books are so radically different.  Cable is better when focused on the character moments, the story, and the bigger picture, while X-Force is better suited for action.  Try to put one in the other, and it just doesn’t mesh as well.  This is really an example of a story that would have benefitted more from a single creative team, as opposed to swapping back and forth.

“Messiah War” is a decent follow-up to “Messiah CompleX”, but the lack of coherence and major plot developments really hinder the story.  Its got its moments, but they are few and far between.  The action really would have been better suited as a 3 issue mini-series by a single creative team, rather then stretching it out needlessly to try and create a sprawling epic that drags on a bit too long in its endgame.  As such, “Messiah War” overall gets a C.  Worth checking out if you’re a fan of the X-Men or “Messiah Complex”, but thumb through the trade at your book store or comic shop before buying.

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