Book of Doom: X-Force/Cable: Messiah War Prologue

Plot itself: Cyclops’ elite force of murderers is hunting Cable and the messiah child through time. They land in a future with Deadpool and some sinking feelings. In the meantime, Bishop, the guy who came back to warn the X-Men of a traitor only to himself become a traitor, strikes a deal with an all-too-familiar face.

My thoughts: Well first of all, it was a quagmire to get this issue. Though I live in a fairly large city, there are only a handful of comic stores. My store dropped the ball and forgot to pull this for me. So that kind of sucks, because I had to go on a goose chase and ended up finding it at a chain bookstore with a creaky-ass rack.

So, that said, was the chase worth it? Kind of maybe I guessish? Everyone else is absolutely right. This is a rehash of X-Men in the year’s passed. Days of the Present Past if you will. Spoilers after the jump.

Right, so, everyone in this book has reverted to the 90s. Seriously. Angel is back to being Archangel of course, but only for certain books. The X-Men are violent and edgy again, X-Force is back and everyone has red eyes. If Liefeld draws an issue with ridiculous proportions, I’ll probably flip shit and Marvel a package filled with all the comics I’ve bought from them in the last year and some dead mice and rotting garbage for good measure.

The characters in this issue are wooden to say the least, Elixir coming off as a whiny little brat the whole time, and everyone else not Wolverine or Cable coming off as a mute set-piece. The dialogue barely distinguishes between the different people, serving as tiny passages to the plot. As Wolverine and His Amazing Friends travel to the future after Cable, we’re just kind of led to the stakes that HOLY CRAP Apocalypse is back. In the meantime, Bishop finds a blatantly obvious man in a bar. They’re discussing a proposition – kill Cable in exchange for APOCALYPSE. Oh, it’s Stryfe, but you probably guessed that.


I want to like this arc. A part of me is willing to look past the flimsiness of the initial issue and hope for the best. In my masochism, I’ll be following along with the issues to do just this. God help us all. But man oh man, it does just feel too familiar. We’re not really moving things forward here, which Messiah Complex arguably did. Instead, we’ve got a cast of characters who are there to kill people and a bunch of villains who want to kill them EVEN MORE.

That latter thing is a problem. Stryfe is lame. Lame, lame, lame. His name has an unnecessary early 90s “y” and he’s a needless clone. That makes two clones – X-23 and Stryfe. You know who else had a clone? Spider-Man. He had a lot of them and they all ruined him to where he hasn’t quite recovered yet. His presence here says to me that the Legacy Virus is going to make a come back, which is the exact opposite of what should be happening. His presence here says to me that a lot of dumb things are going to come back. For instance, Madelyne Pryor, who also has unnecessary Y’s and is a clone is back in Uncanny.

Not all is lost, really. I’m sure the other Legion members found it lame, but I liked Deadpool’s presence here. He was dumb and running at the mouth and all that fun stuff. I used to read his series, so maybe it’s a little bit of that loyalty. He’s a holdout of the Liefeld era that I can stand.

Well, I’m turning this over to Doom Fritter:

Ah, nerd static. That invisible force that draws them to you. Female comic book readers have a lot of it.

I mean, we’re all nerds here—I’m blogging about comics, after all—but I’m talking about the doozies. The friendless basement-dwellers.

I’ve gone in to Trade-A-Tape several times and had good experiences with the normal staff and several normal customers. The moment I set foot in the shop this week, though, I can feel the static building. I can’t find this week’s Book of Doom on the shelf (I never can), so I have to ask. Then I say it. I say “X-Force/Cable: Messiah War”, and suddenly a spark of lightning leaves my lips and illuminates the entire shop. Its attractive force begins to pull cottony nerd all over me.

I cautiously make my way over to the shelf and pick up my copy of the book, when the guy standing next to me excitedly grabs the copy behind it, hands it to me, and silently points back and forth at both covers. I look at him, and he waves his alternate copy around, shrugs, and hands it to me. He doesn’t say a word the whole time. Doesn’t make a sound.

But then it gets worse. I go up to pay for the issue and there he is; a real mole-person. He cracks a joke: “How much do I owe you for your labor? *SNORT*” I almost start to question if I really heard that, until he repeated the same joke, and snorted again—without laughing. Just SNORRT.

The X-Men, unfortunately, crackle with nerd static. It’s a shame, because I’ve always been a rather intrigued by the team, whether in the form of X-Men proper or one of its many thousands of spinoffs. The message of diversity and oppression is, sadly, still a pretty novel idea in the grand scheme of humanity, so the good stories will likely remain timeless until the Nirvana of world peace arrives. Notably, the one idea that stood out in X-Force/Cable: Messiah War was the concept of mutant extermination, which, admittedly, has long been a common conflict in the X-realm. Not since the first X-team took to the streets, however, has the human elite been so close to destroying the mutant anomaly. Here is where some real tension can be built.

I pick up an X-book every half-decade or so, because of this kind of potential that I see in the title, but I can never get past the static. The stories end up being like soap operas with more hitting and fewer pensive close-ups. There’s so much minutia to keep track of; so many past stories and characters to remember, plus a small handful of completely new characters. It’s so much dramatic internal dialogue. It’s the censored swearing mixed with the gratuitous head-shots (it’s… to protect the kids?). It’s the return of the evil version of Angel. It’s Telford Porter whose power is to teleport. It’s not one, but two Wolverines on the team.

It’s that I’m fed a line like “Cable and Hope continue to be hunted through time by super-cop, Bishop,” and I’m not supposed to smirk.

And to round us out, our own Cable, Jim Doom:

I am having trouble putting into words how little interest I have in Messiah War, particularly after reading that introductory issue that confirmed my worst fears. While the X-Cutioner’s Song came along in what was probably my peak period of comic book interest, I have no desire whatsoever to relive those days. Even as a kid who was desperate to soak up as many comic stories as possible, my experience reading those books at that time was tainted by the sense that these books felt shallow, rushed and desperate to cling to the days of the gang who had left for Image not long before. I was excited to head to the local department store to find the latest issue so I could tear open the polybag, file the trading card and see what happened next. But even then, I knew they weren’t nearly as good as I wanted them to be.

I think my connection to that material can best be summed up by my gut reaction to this book — “Oh great, they’re going back to THAT already?” And then I realized, it’s been more than 15 years since X-Cutioner’s Song. More than 15 years, yet it already seemed too soon to create a series based around Cable, his crazy future, Apocalypse, X-Force and Stryfe. One of the things I really enjoyed from that era was Bishop, the mystery from his future, and his accidental role in the 20th century due to the Upstarts storyline. But by now, Bishop just feels ruined. I have no interest in the character at all. I think I lost interest in Cable when he grew a goatee.

There are some fundamentals about the assumptions behind this series that I just don’t understand, and maybe if I did, I’d be more interested. But take, for example, the kid. A new mutant was born, after a few months of no new mutants being born. It has been decided that the future of mutants rests on this one baby mutant. Why, exactly? Is she going to go around mutating other babies? Is she going to give birth to a bunch of mutants, who will then repopulate the mutant civilization through inbreeding? I just don’t get it. There is Premise A, a new mutant is born, and Premise B, they want to continue the mutant population, but I have yet to understand any cause and effect between the two. It doesn’t help matters that Cyclops thought the best way to accomplish the goal of Premise B was to send the result of Premise A into the future, and now he thinks he needs to go get the baby back to save Mutantkind. Why?

When cause and effect are so detached, I just can’t get wrapped up in the consequences of anything. And time travel is just so stupid.