Written by Chris Yost & Craig Kyle
Art by Mike Choi
Based on suggestions from commenters, I decided to pick up the prologue issue of Messiah War and give it the once over review treatment for everyone's enjoyment. The prognosis? Honestly, hard to say. It felt more like a primer on everything Cable and X-Force related for the first half of the book before giving some new content that was simply introducing the main players and forging the Stryfe/Bishop alliance near the end and, in general, moving pawns around the board.
As I said, the issue spends most of its hefty pagecount recapping the events of Messiah Complex, the Cable ongoing and last week's X-Force issue that sent Wolverine and friends into the future. For those following either book, you may feel like you were ripped off with this $3.99 purchase. Anyone who hasn't been keeping up with those books should find the twenty or so pages dedicated to the recaps quite informative.
However, I believe this format was by design as Marvel probably realizes not many people are reading Cable and many haven't read a single issue pertaining to the fallout of the Messiah Complex event this story will be relying heavily on. Given that Cable and Hope, who is no longer a baby anymore, will be the central figures of this crossover, it stands to reason that the numerous fans that will jump on board for this event be told just what the heck he's been up to and why the baby is so much older now.
The remainder of the issue is actually quite entertaining. It was nice to see Elixir react to the forced time travel by Cyclops when his friends were in danger. Although, I was a tad disappointed no one else really showed any reaction to it, but Deadpool's appearance pretty much killed that fallout scene.
Speaking of which, Yost & Kyle, probably under orders to promote him for the upcoming Wolverine movie he'll appear in, introduced a future version of Deadpool to the cast and it's the funniest I've seen the character in a long time. I had been worried his inclusion would be forced and hamfisted, but it was actually quite natural and has me curious as to how he survived all these years.
In the end, the team made up with Deadpool and proceeded to track down Cable and Hope, who showed the team that they had stumbled into a trap. This scene was left ambiguous and only consisted of everyone on a hill overlooked a futuristic city and Wolverine cursing about it being setup by "him".
I'll get to my thoughts on this in a moment, but let's talk about the Bishop/Stryfe stuff first. The scenes with Bishop and Stryfe were labelled as "the near future" while everything else was given strict dates, like the year 2973 that X-Force teleported to. As such, I'm not sure when Bishop actually came in contact with Stryfe, as I assumed he was from Cable's timeline, which was stated as about 1000 years ahead of the 2973 year the team jumped to. However, Stryfe assumes Cable is dead, which I think is in relation to the present day time period, and still wants to kill Apocalypse, which is the bargaining chip Bishop is using to get Stryfe to help him.
So, getting back to the mystery 'him' that set the trap for X-Force and Cable, I'm thinking that Apocalypse is in control of the future at that point. This is bolstered by the fact that Apocalypse was featured in Stryfe's Strike Files in the back of the issue. However, with all the time travelling, it's really hard to get a grasp on who's where in time at this point and the way they depicted the scene for the trap and the follow up reveal that Bishop will be giving Stryfe Apocalypse in return for helping him implies to me that he's alive and kicking in the future. I wish they had taken a cue from Annihilation, Conquest and the War of King prologues and simply made the huge reveal clear instead of some cheap cut away gimmick that leaves it ambiguous.
Verdict - Check It. If you've been left out in the cold by not reading Cable or X-Force, this issue primarily sums up everything you need to know going in before giving a brief meet and greet between Cable and the X-Force people and will be a Must Read for you. For those that have been following along all this time, nothing really happens here and you may feel a bit cheated by how light on new material and plot progression this issue was. It was really a whole lot of scenes that didn't have to be shown to us and only served to frame flashback sequences. Worth checking, but won't impact your ability to understand the crossover if you simply skip it either.