Written by Chris Yost & Craig Kyle
Art by Clayton Crain
Messiah War finally starts with this issue. What do you mean it's already started? This is part three? I wouldn't have known based on the prologue and the issue of Cable from a few weeks back. Up until now, the story has consisted of X-Force talking to Cable and giving out introductions or recapping past events for 60 some odd pages or more.
Thankfully, Yost and Kyle finally kickstart this event by throwing the team into a big brawl with the big bad, Stryfe, and giving us some Apocalypse loving all in the same issue. It's far from a perfect issue, but it definitely cranked the dial up a notch or five on a story that had been spinning its wheels.
That said, this issue is dark. No, not dark as in blood and gore and the stereotypical grim and gritty kind of dark. Well, this is X-Force, so it is actually all that, but I mean physically dark. The colouring of Crain's art is so dark at times that it is hard to discern just what the hell is going on in some of the panels as it's night time, everyone is wearing black, they all have the same claws/knife/snarling motif and there's black blood everywhere as Stryfe's search squad gets massacred by the X-Force squad. Some of the scenes make it almost impossible to tell who people are on first look and you have to hope they mention the characters by name just so you can tell who's saying what.
Ignoring the colouring and gratuitous blood and gore, there's a lot to like about this issue. X-23 has another great moment with Hope that shows sparks of the character Yost & Kyle wrote back during their New X-Men run and gives me hope (pun not intended) that we can see a real person under this killing machine facade she seems to have reverted to since joining X-Force.
I've seen some negative comments about Deadpool for this issue, but can't see where they're coming from. I loved his "he could be a zombie!" rationale during the fight scene and the scene with Domino was an interesting piece that has me curious about this future character and just how "insane" he actually is.
As I said, Stryfe and Apocalypse were great in this issue, too. We finally see how Bishop and Stryfe "killed" Apocalypse. The time travel stuff is still a little wonky and doesn't seem to jive with any other time travel Marvel comic I've read, but, ignoring logistics, I liked how they explained the killing of Apocalypse and, moreso, the reveal that he was still alive at the end of the issue after summoning his former horseman, Archangel, bettern known as Death, to him. He looks pretty worse for wear, but it's still a great moment that has me back on board an event I was contemplating dropping prior to this issue.
Verdict - Check It. There are a lot of flaws in this issue (dark, muddied art, continuity, time travel discrepencies, etc) that prevent it from being an outright Must Read, but I really did enjoy a lot of the things Yost and Kyle brought to the table and this story is finally starting to come together. Let's see if they can continue to build on the momentum of this issue.