Liefeld variant coverX-Force/ Cable: Messiah War Prologue
Written by Craig Kyle and Chris Yost
Art by Mike Choi and Sonia Oback
From Marvel Comics
I don't consider myself an X-fiend. I'm a fan, of course, but my loyalty is hardly slavish. I try and keep an awareness of the X-branch's happenings, though, and hold my breathe for that great story; the one that manages to get right to the core of the mutant condition, and does so while exploring the stable of familiar characters. I've been waiting for Messiah War.
With the latest volumes of Cable and X-Force, the supplemental X-titles have never been stronger. Titles that were once basically titled X-Traneous, many of which were created by variant cover artist and fanboy lightning rod Rob Liefeld, have finally been instilled with central concepts that justify their struggle among what was once a sea of mutants. In Cable, Nathan Summers' story proves symmetrical, as he is now the protector of a mutant baby out-of-time, as he once was himself. Fellow 90's time-traveling mutant Bishop is the perfect foil to Cable as the soldier and father, with Lucas Bishop acting as the desperate, by-any-means-necessary cop. He is merciless in his hunt through time of Cable and baby Hope, the first mutant baby born since M-day. Cable and Bishop proved to unwieldy as characters when creators tried to get around them as time-travelers, because their story became too convoluted almost immediately. They epitomized “in” X-characters, because understanding their origin took a graduate level course in the Uncanny with a minor in space-time metaphysical theory. Now that they don't have to exist within our own timeline, they make perfect sense; they are mutants from two separate but equally horrifying futures, each trying to prevent his own version of Hell by however they see fit. It's still kind of complicated, but it is a whole lot more streamlined than it was. Plus, I just really like Bishop as a driven Denzel in Training Day kind of cop.
X-Force was once like the mutant overpopulation support center. It was the home for wayward students of Xavier that had no place else to go. Now, X-Force is the only truly meaningful decision Cyclops has ever made. His black-ops assassination squad is the single greatest departure from Professor X's vision for mutantkind, but is wholly necessitated by the threat of extinction. This book couldn't have been around in the past, but with the mutant saga where it stands currently it is a vital part of the larger tapestry.
When Cyclops and his team track down Cable and the baby on the timeline, and move to protect them both from Bishop's advances, it makes for one of the most exciting, crucial stories in recent memory. And, as usual, there's a redhead at the crux of it all. With Yost and Kyle's two X-Force issues leading into this special, the crossover has proven to be well paced thus far. This isn't a case of two books being gerrymandered together, rather the titles arrive at an organic median point, complete with the scope that justifies the crossover. Especially with the big villain reveal at the finale, the secondary agenda to this story seems to be an attempt to streamline the most convoluted of the X-clan. Considering what the X-franchise is, that is no small undertaking. Hearkening to the scope and spectacle of the crossovers in the X-Men's popularity heyday, it surpasses those stories with an intellectual sophistication those events may have lacked. If they manage to make this bad guy cool, it will prove that in comics truly anything is possible.
X-editorial has called Messiah War the second act in this Messiah Saga. If this is true, expect it to be more laden with tragedy than the rest of the trio. The mutants' struggle for survival will likely get much darker before the light starts to turn. With all the hopes of an entire species on the line, the stakes couldn't be any higher.
And that is a story worthy of an event.