Craig Kyle and Chris Yost deliver their usual sterling work here, managing to imbue a distinctly dull setting with a sense of drama. An offensive by the ruling powers of New York 3000 A.D. has caught X-Force off-guard, but Cable & Deadpool are more than up to the challenge. In the process, however, Nathan Summers unexpectedly exposes his new weakness to his oldest enemy…
The writing team’s natural ability to handle a large cast comes to the fore here, with Kyle & Yost ensuring that every character receives their moment in the post-apocalyptic sun. The strongest moment of the issue is when the book’s themes are allowed to enter the alien setting, with the villain of the piece’s mockery of the new team as underpowered for the task they face capturing much of the fun of the book. There’s also a nice moment when X-Force’s trademark self-awareness enters the writing, with Nathan’s Dark Knight-inspired comment about not being the Cable that’s “wanted” being a clear reference to his present under-explored and depowered incarnation.
Having now pencilled three issues consecutively, Clayton Crain is starting to cut some corners in his work, with character faces blurring in long shot. The artist proves an astute judge of when he can get away with these tricks, however, and generally speaking the art is rich and detailed, with particularly good implementations of the guest characters. Crain’s Deadpool is a magnificent zombie figure, managing to genuinely look disturbing for the first time in years. While the artist’s Cable bears little resemblance to the figure who graces his regular book, the result is vastly superior, with a superb sense of dynamism during his brief face-off with Stryfe.
Messiah War is high-quality entertainment, but the fact that the plot is derived solely from the pages of Cable gives the impression that Kyle and Yost have been briefly parachuted in to advance that book’s scenario in a way that its writer has failed to do. Allowing this writing team to tackle other figures in the X-canon is probably a fair trade-off for effectively placing X-Force on hold for three months, but it’s already clear which book the consequences of this story will be played out in.