Messiah War picks up quite a while after Messiah Complex. It was written by Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost, and Duane Swierczynski from May to July 2009. The story began in X-Force/Cable: Messiah War One-Shot, before continuing in Cable #13 – 15, and X-Force #14 – 16. It is the second part of the Messiah trilogy, and focuses on Cable’s journey through time with Hope, which is what he named the mutant messiah.
Unfortunately for Cable his timestream device was damaged, and he could only travel forward in time, which is exactly what Bishop wanted. Bishop knew that eventually Cable would run out of time, literally. Cyclopes was also keeping tabs on his son and realized things weren’t going as smoothly as he figured. Given this is time, shouldn’t Cable have been back the instant he left? Instead it had been several months and he hadn’t heard a single thing. Not knowing was the worst part, and Cyclopes was starting to worry something had gone terribly wrong. He formed X-Force, which had some of the toughest mutants around on it (Wolverine, Domino, Elixir, Vanisher, X-23, Archangel, and Warpath), to travel through time and try to catch up with Cable, to aid and assist him if necessary.
The story begins with Cyclopes forcibly teleporting X-Force to the year 2973 during a huge battle with the Leper Queen, leaving two of their friends, Hellion and Surge defenseless. Cyclopes gave X-Force 32.5 hours to complete their mission before their time-bands, which keep their biology intact in the timestream, are no longer operational. In other words, they have to finish their mission and teleport out or they’ll die. Elixir removes his time-band to return to help his friends, but for some reason is not returned to the present. Apparently there’s some force at work preventing any time manipulation.
X-23 tracks Cable to the United Nations building, but not before Vanisher is shot through the throat. Thankfully Elixir is on the team, and heals Vanisher right away. The mysterious sniper is revealed as the future Deadpool. Apparently he’s been waiting for X-Force for over 900 hundred years.
When the group finally meet up with Cable, they see that Hope is no longer a baby, but rather an 8-year old girl. Cable then pops out and says they shouldn’t have come because they’ve walked right into a trap. He points off in the distance to Apocalypse’s celestial fortress.
It’s at this point when Deadpool comes clean and explains that Stryfe, Cable’s clone, is now ruling this age. Before he can go any further Stryfe’s soldiers attack the group. We then learn that Bishop made a deal with Stryfe. Bishop would help Stryfe kill Apocalypse in return for Stryfe’s help killing Cable. Bishop has had to be extremely careful during all the years he spent with Stryfe because Stryfe has the ability to read people’s minds and Bishop didn’t want Stryfe knowing what his true intentions were for fear of what he would do to Hope. Would he use the child instead of letting Bishop murder it? These were chances Bishop wasn’t willing to take.
When X-Force finishes taking out the soldiers, Archangel says he hears something and flies off someplace. Meanwhile Domino starts to grow suspicious of Deadpool, when suddenly Stryfe shows up and takes on the X-Force. The battle doesn’t last long thanks to the extensive powers Stryfe possesses. In the end he flies off with Warpath and Hope. The scene then switches back to Archangel who flies to some far off cave and discovers that Apocalypse is seriously hurt, but still alive.
Stryfe tortures Warpath to learn why the X-Force are in this timeline. While he’s not paying attention Bishop uses this to his advantage and attempts to kill Hope. He fails, and Stryfe reads his mind fully, for the first time. He then realizes that Hope is someone special, but doesn’t quite understand what makes her so special. Outside of the fortress Wolverine, Elixir, and Cable head off to confront Stryfe, while Domino, X-23, Vanisher, and Deadpool search for the source behind what’s keeping X-Force trapped in the future.
When Cable catches up with Stryfe a big battle ensues, but Wolverine, Elixir and Cable are seriously hurt within seconds. Back in the cave, Archangel faces a tough decision, he can either kill Apocalypse now or he can help rejuvenate him. He decides against killing him, and Apocalypse says that together they will destroy Stryfe.
Domino and her group eventually find the source behind the fortress’ unique ability to remain outside the timestream, it’s Kiden Nixon, strapped to some sort of device which controls her time altering powers. As Domino and X-23 begin arguing over what to do with her, Deadpool leaves to join the fight against Stryfe.
When Deadpool finally works his way to Stryfe, he blasts Stryfe off a giant platform seemingly to his doom. As Deadpool celebrates his victory, Stryfe comes up behind him and rips him in half and pitches him off the platform. Meanwhile Archangel and Apocalypse return to the fortress and Apocalypse regains his full strength.
At this point in the story the time-bands X-Force are wearing reach 0:00, and attempt to bring the team home. Since Kiden is still preventing that, the group begins to feel dilapidating effects. Domino then kills Kiden with one bullet to the head, and Vanisher rips off his time-band and is immediately teleported back to present time. The rest of the group head to Stryfe, but it’s of little use.
When Archangel and Apocalypse finally arrive, they subdue Stryfe with virtually no effort at all. Apocalypse then says the Stryfe age has come to an end. Bishop uses this distraction to try and kill Hope one last time, but is stopped by Cable. Wolverine then rips out one of his eyes before he disappears into the timestream.
Apocalypse then grabs hold of Hope and says she has tremendous power and she would be a worthy vessel for his essence. Archangel says Hope is the payment he wants for sparing Apocalypse’s life, to which he agrees. Apocalypse warns the group that emotion is weakness, and that when he returns it will be their undoing. He grabs ahold of Stryfe and drags him away saying he will have to do as a vessel for the time being. The two then disappear into the timestream.
Cable then grabs Hope and slips away into the timestream as well, but Hope kicks loose trying to get back to Domino and X-23 to which she had bonded. This eventually causes her to appear in a different time than Cable, but those events are covered in the Cable monthly series. X-Force then prepares to get into position, making their way back to the UN building because that’s where they were in a huge battle before they were ripped away to this time period. Eventually the group removes their time-bands and is teleported back to the present.
Messiah War comes to an end with an epilogue showing a one-armed, one-eyed Bishop preparing to begin tracking down Cable and Hope yet again.
Messiah War was a good read, if only because it showed how much Hope had grown, and that Cable had spent years of his life doing everything in his power to protect the girl. She had become his true daughter, and he was willing to sacrifice everything for her safety. At this point Hope realized she was special, but didn’t quite understand how special. That would all change when the Messiah trilogy came to its epic conclusion with Second Coming. In the months leading up to that story Cable and Hope are separated by two years, thanks to their separation in the timestream. When Cable finally catches up with Hope she’s now an adult. The mutant messiah is soon ready to either save all the mutants or to destroy everything. Only time will tell which path she chooses.