X-Force/Cable: Messiah War #1

Issue Date: 
May 2009
Story Title: 
Messiah War: Chapter One

Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost (writers), Mike Choi and Sonia Oback (artists), VC’s Cory Petit (letterer), Joe Sabino (producer), Jody LeHeup (assistant editor), John Barber (editor), Axel Alonso (executive editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer), Dave Wilkins (Strike Files artist), Christopher Yost (Strike Files writer), Kaare Andrews (cover artist), Rob Liefeld (variant cover artist), Mike Choi and Sonia Oback (variant cover artists)

Brief Description: 

In the present, Cyclops recounts why X-Force needs to stop Bishop from killing Cable. After Beast pinpoints Cable’s location in the timestream, Cyclops rips X-Force out of an in-progress and transports them to the year 2973, despite Beast’s objections. X-Force realizes immediately they are stuck in the future; neither Vanisher’s teleportation nor their time-travel devices work. They come under artillery fire from a sniper, who turns out to be Deadpool, somehow still alive after 1000 years. Deadpool agrees to accompany them to Westchester to find Cable. During their trek, they happen upon Cable and Hope. Cable scolds them for foolishly following him to this era. To elucidate, he shows them a nearby city built in the shadow of Apocalypse’s Celestial ship. Meanwhile, in a future not far beyond the present, Bishop meets with Stryfe in a bar and convinces him to help kill Cable—in exchange for helping Stryfe get Apocalypse.

Full Summary: 

“My name is Scott Summers,” Cyclops says, “and I'm the last of a dying breed... mutants.” Cyclops recounts how three simple words cut their numbers down from millions to less than 200. The mutants didn't realize the worst was still to come. With mutantkind on the brink of extinction, their enemies saw their opportunity to end them once and for all. They were hunted down and attacked from all sides. It was the children, however, who suffered most.

The Xavier Institute lost dozens of students in a single ambush, the worst attack in its history. Unbelievably, it was just the beginning of the killing, and with each life taken, hope faded for the survival of their species. Then, a new mutant was born—the first in what seemed like forever. Unfortunately, her birth did not go unnoticed.

The past. Cooperstown Hospital, Alaska…

In the Cooperstown Hospital's infant care unit, a pleasant-looking nurse makes her rounds over the new deliveries as usual. "All tuckered out, Red?" she asks one of the sleeping newborns. "You and your mommy had a long day." As she asks if the baby is ready to meet her parents, the sound of machine-gun fire rattles off in the background. A group of men bearing assault weapons and wearing crimson robes adorned with Christian imagery storms into the nursery.

These men, members of the Purifiers, fire several rounds into the nurse's back. She falls to the ground, leaving fingerprints of blood on the baby's plastic crib as the life spills out of her. The Purifiers have waged Holy War on mutantkind. During their twisted crusade, they acquired a sentient machine that allowed them to peer into the future. What they saw scared them; scared them enough, in fact, to lay siege to an entire hospital, killing every man, woman and newborn child inside it.

The X-Men are still fifteen minutes out when the Purifiers attack. There is no way for them to reach the hospital in time. As it turns out, however, the Purifiers are not the only ones who have seen the future. While one of the Purifiers torches the nursery with a flamethrower, a bullet pierces the back of his neck. He drops to the floor. A tall, white-haired man emerges in the room. He scoops red-haired infant into his biomechanical arm—the one not holding an assault rifle. The baby girl looks at her savior and smiles. Nathan Christopher Summers—the mutant known as Cable—looks back at her, his face devoid of expression.

Las Vegas. The near future…

Lucas Bishop approaches a man inside a bar called Betty Noir’s. “I’ve been looking for you,” Bishop says. The man, sipping his drink, tells Bishop that was a mistake; now he will have to kill him—just like he killed all the others. He refers, of course, to the other patrons of the bar, all of whom lie slumped over dead, their faces frozen in a final expression of horror. “You won’t kill me,” Bishop counters.

“And here I didn’t think you had a sense of humor,” the man retorts.

“I don’t,” Bishop says. “But I’ve got a proposition for you.” The shrouded man with a star-shaped scar over his right eye tells Bishop he could have chosen some more poetic last words. Bishop tells him he will not kill him because he can give him what he wants: the only thing he has ever wanted.

The present...

Cyclops recalls how the baby was their last hope for survival. It was their sole mission to save her—a mission they failed, because it was, in fact, Cable who saved her. The X-Men fought those wanted control over the baby, as well as the monster that wanted to consume her. In the end, it was Cyclops’s son Cable who truly saved her—with the help of Professor X, the man Cyclops considers to be his father. Together, those two ensured their future while the X-Men fended off the most visible threats. They failed to realize, however, that the greatest danger would come from one of their own.

The near future. Betty Noir’s…

“I can give you Cable,” Bishop tells the man. He explains that Cable has gone rogue, lost his mind, and done some terrible things. Knocking back a glass of liquor, Bishop explains that if can’t stop him, Cable will commit even more atrocities. He already escaped into the future. Bishop needs his stoic bar-mate’s help in tracking him down.

“Cable?” the man says. “Cable’s dead.”

The present…

“My son escaped into the future, and almost immediately, I knew something had gone wrong,” Cyclops continues. Because of the nature of time travel, Cable should have come back the next day, if not the next instant. But, he didn’t. Cyclops has no idea where Cable has been. He has no idea Cable initially jumped ahead to 2043 on Muir Island. He has no idea Cable traveled to the desolate wasteland of the United States in 2118. He has no idea a mutated bear nearly ate Hope in 2190. He has no idea that Cable and Hope spent two years in a place called New Liberty, where they lived an idyllic lifestyle as farmers. All Cyclops knows for sure is that he gambled with the future of mutantkind. He made a bet on faith—faith that his son would bring Hope back to them.

Only later did he find out that Bishop was chasing after them through time. Cyclops now believes he doomed Cable and the baby simply by allowing them to leave. He recalls the time Bishop returned to the present for equipment and information. Bishop, he explains, sees the baby as a harbinger of his future—a future in which mutants are held in concentration camps, branded, and sent to slaughter like animals. Bishop believes with absolute conviction that the mutant baby would lead to the end of mutantkind. In his mind, the baby has to die—no matter what.

Bishop will do anything to prevent the holocaust of his future. He has already turned against the X-Men and nearly killed Professor Xavier. The X-Men even captured him once, but he escaped. Cyclops knows he is out there right now, trying to kill Cable and the child. Because Bishop is willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish his mission, Cyclops believes he and the X-Men must do the same. That is why he gave Wolverine the order to find Bishop, and, when the time comes, do what he does best.

The future…

“No. Cable’s alive,” Bishop corrects. “He turned on the X-Men. He turned on everyone.” Lowering his head at the bar, he claims Cable wants to destroy the future: to stop his own from ever happening. Cable, Bishop claims, is obsessed with this, but no one believes him or the lengths to which he is willing to go. “Destroying the future would destroy everything,” Bishop tells the other man. “Even you.”

The mysterious man asks Bishop how he intends to find Cable, since he could conceivably be anywhere. Not anywhere, Bishop answers. According to Bishop, Cable has killed most of the world in his madness: Australia, 2276—multiple nuclear strikes; China, 2381—civil war and bio-weapons; Europe, 2510—poisoned water supply and plague; South America, 2753—ongoing chemical fires. Now, there is only one place left for him to go, Bishop says.


Dr. Hank McCoy, the X-Man Beast, announces to Cyclops that he has a fix on Cable’s location in the year 2973. Cyclops cannot believe Cable has traveled so far into the future. Beast reminds him that 2973 is still 1000 years before Cable’s own era. Of course, from what Hank has heard, Cable’s era wasn’t exactly the safest place, either. Moving on, he explains that the devices he made will lock onto Cable’s chronal signature, but the team Cyclops sends will have to make its way to him geographically. Based off what Bishop said while in captivity, Cyclops imagines Cable is heading to the remnants of the X-Mansion Westchester. He asks Beast how much time they have. “Not much. If he jumps, we may not be able to find him again…” Beast answers. “To tell you the truth, I’m shocked we’ve located him this time.”

Cyclops gets on his communication unit and informs Logan they found Cable. Beast folds his arms. He now knows one of the people whom Cyclops intends to send—Logan—but reminds him he made seven time-travel devices. Who are the others? Cyclops ignores the question. If he’s trying to allow for plausible deniability, then that implies guilt, Beast says. Again, Cyclops ignores him and continues talking with Wolverine. Their mission is to save mutantkind, he shouts over his com-link! Frustrated, Beast snarls. Isn’t their mission to execute Bishop? Cyclops tells Logan nothing else can take priority—not even their current mission. Logan says something, to which Scott answers that it’s not his call. He finally turns to Beast and tells him to push the button. Beast hesitates, so Cyclops pushes it for him.

New York City, 2973…

The sun sets over the post-apocalyptic ruins of New York City. When the sky finally grows dark, a flurry of electric activity erupts, localized entirely at the intersection of two streets. Archangel, X-23, Domino, Warpath, Elixir, Vanisher and Wolverine—the members of X-Force—emerge amidst a brilliant flash of white light already in fighting posture, as if they were ripped from the middle of a battle.

Wolverine hits the ground and plunges one of his claws into the asphalt. “Dammit Summers! I told you to wait!!” he shouts. He vows to kill Cyclops next time he sees him. Domino casually holsters her guns, accurately presuming they just traveled through time. Josh Foley, the golden-skinned mutant known as Elixir, looks around in confusion. They have to go back, he says! She’s going to kill their friends! Deciding he wants to go back and save them, he rips the time-travel device off his upper-arm. Removing it should return him to the correct time period. Instead, it does nothing.

Elixir looks around, astonished. Archangel, still in the air, supposes that means Cyclops was wrong. “Well, Cyclops apparently isn’t Einstein,” Warpath says. He looks up and sees an assortment of colors in the sky. “Anyone know what’s up with the sky?” Elixir asks who could care about the sky at a time like this. After Wolverine asks him to calm down, Elixir reminds him the Leper Queen has his friends. They have to do something!

Meanwhile, X-23 extends a single claw from her hand, kneels on the ground, and etches an “X” into a loose metal square. “What’s the creepy girl doing?” Domino asks. Warpath says he has no idea.

Wolverine continues arguing with Elixir. He orders him to reattach his armband, but Josh continues insisting they need to save their friends. They will, Wolverine swears, but right now, they need recon. He turns to Vanisher and tells him to scout ahead and see what he can find. “What, you’re not going to cut me up first?” Vanisher jokes. Wolverine reiterates his order, and Vanisher acquiesces. He activates a jump. Surprisingly, he doesn’t go anywhere. Wolverine asks if he wants to get hurt, but Vanisher swears it isn’t working! He tried to teleport to Japan, but couldn’t!

Suddenly, a bullet penetrates the back of Vanisher’s neck. He croaks as the trail of blood streams forth, like the tail of a comet. Immediately, the team runs for cover, while Elixir rushes toward Vanisher’s dying body. Archangel provides cover with his wings while Josh heals the mortal wound. Meanwhile, Wolverine and X-23 take cover behind a concrete wall and listen to the rapid fire of the machine gun. X-23 offers a sit-rep: the shooter is moving toward them from south-southeast. “Whatever it is, it smells bad,” she adds. “It smells dead.”

Elsewhere, while hiding behind a different patch of concrete, Domino asks Warpath if he has ever traveled through time. He honestly doesn’t remember. He tells Domino she should just fire up into the air; with her powers, the bullets will probably fall and hit their shooter. “Yeah, I should try—”

The shooter leans around the corner and puts his gun to Domino’s head.

“—that. Fudge.” She rolls her eyes. In response, the gunman tells Domino she looks exactly like a girl he knew a thousand years earlier. To her utter surprise, Domino turns and sees the person holding a gun to her head is none other than a decrepit, bullet-riddled Wade Wilson, the mercenary known as Deadpool!

“You have got to be kidding me,” Warpath sighs.

Domino, on the other hand, could not be more excited. She squeals Wade’s name aloud. He tells her he has no idea whom she means; he is the Emperor of North America. “You can call me Your Majesty,” Deadpool says. Suddenly, Wolverine’s claws pierce the back of Deadpool’s cranium and protrude from his forehead. Snarling, Wolverine asks Wade what he is doing there. “Logan! I can feel you inside my head! Are you a telepath now?” the skewered Deadpool jokes.

Vanisher asks if someone can’t just kill Deadpool already; Wolverine asks what they think he’s trying to do?! “Scratching my brain,” Deadpool answers. Resigning himself, Wolverine removes his claws from Deadpool’s head—and tells him he hates him. Deadpool, meanwhile, finally gets a look at Wolverine’s team and does a quick roll-call. “Wolverine! Thunderbird II! Domino! Other people I don’t know! I missed you!” He asks where they went; he waited for them for a really long time. Domino asks what happened to him—and how he is even still alive. He gives her a one-word answer: guns. Domino sighs and asks Logan how Deadpool is still alive. He doesn’t know, and he doesn’t care either. He just wants to find Cable. “Oh, Cable. That’s who I’m waiting for,” Deadpool says. Wolverine asks where he is. “Where is who?” Deadpool asks. Frustrated, Wolverine shouts and asks where Cable is. “I don’t know! But I know where he’ll be!” Deadpool says with blood dripping into his eyes. “Does anyone have a car?”

X-Force and Deadpool begin the long walk to Westchester, a feat to which Vanisher wholeheartedly objects. It’s like a 30-mile walk, he says! Wolverine tells him to stay in front, in case they encounter any more snipers. Vanisher curses at him. Domino, meanwhile, looks upward and decides the colors in the sky must come from an energy field. “It’s more pronounced at night,” she says to Warpath. “Why don’t you fly up there and check it out.” He tells her to shut up. Domino then spots a structure that looks like the United Nations building.

Suddenly, Warpath catches a familiar scent; Cable must be near. As he takes off running with X-23, Wolverine tells Warren and Jimmy to scout ahead, and orders Domino to babysit everyone else. She shrugs, obviously displeased. Deadpool, on the other hand, announces he brought his “Travel Connect Four” set. He asks who wants to play first. “Okay, who are you?” Elixir asks.
Wolverine, running ahead, approaches a crumbled ledge and leaps off, into the bombed-out crater below. He worms his way through the mangled mess of concrete and rebar, eventually locating the source of the scent. Putting his back to the wall, he creeps up to the corner and prepares himself for a confrontation with Cable. Wolverine spins around the corner with his claws outstretched. To his surprise, instead of Cable, he sees little Hope Summers, now around ten years old, standing in the room with an innocent expression on her face. She waves. “What the f—” Wolverine begins to say.

Cable puts both a gun to Wolverine’s head and a knife to his throat and tells him to watch his language; there are children present. Wolverine knows. To Cable’s surprise, X-23 sneaks up and puts one of her adamantium claws to his throat. She orders him to drop the weapons—now. During the standoff, Archangel and Warpath arrive, the latter of whom is glad to see his former mentor. Wolverine tells Cable to ease up; they came to help.

After removing his weapons, Cable tells Wolverine and X-Force they should not have come. He grabs Hope by the hand and tells her they’re leaving. As they begin to walk away, Hope turns and looks at the strangers, who behold her in awe. X-23 even removes her facemask. Wolverine, meanwhile, grabs Cable by the other arm and tells him he cannot just leave without first explaining a few things. In response, Cable turns and punches Wolverine across the face, the impact bloodying his knuckles. Instead of fighting back, however, Wolverine asks Cable to ease up; Cyclops sent them to help. They do not have to do this the hard way.

“Help me?” Cable asks incredulously. “You just walked into a trap!” Warpath asks what he means; the place is totally dead. How can it be a trap? Wolverine suddenly understands—or so he thinks. Bishop, he says. “Not exactly,” Cable tells him.

Cable takes Archangel and Wolverine up to a nearby ridge. Lying flat on their stomachs, they behold a futuristic city over the ridge. Wolverine immediately understands what it entails. “Holy $#%&. Him?!”

Betty Noir’s. The near future…

“I don’t care about Cable anymore,” the unidentified man says. Bishop tells him he doesn’t have to care about him; he just has to help kill him. If he agrees, Bishop promises to give him everything he ever wanted. The man claims there is nothing Bishop can give him he doesn’t already have. Not so, Bishop says; he can give him Apocalypse.

The man removes his cap, revealing head of silver hair. For a moment, he says nothing. Bishop presses down on his shot glass to relieve the tension. The glass cracks. Finally, the man—who looks identical to Cable—turns to Bishop and smiles. “Officer, you have a deal,” says Stryfe—the clone of Nathan Christopher Summers.

Characters Involved: 

Archangel, Domino, Elixir, Vanisher, Warpath, Wolverine, X-23 (X-Force)


Hope Summers II





In illustrative flashback images:

Angel, Beast, Colossus, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Hephzibah, Iceman, Nightcrawler, Professor X, Warpath, Wolverine, X-23 (X-Men)


Predator X

Hope Summers I

Various Purifiers


Story Notes: 

This issue is part one of the Messiah War crossover that runs through CABLE (2nd series) #13-15 and X-FORCE (3rd series) #14-16.

This issue also contains several of “Stryfe’s Strike Files”, written from Stryfe’s perspective, that catch the readers up on all the players in this crossover: Wolverine, Cable, Bishop, Deadpool, X-Force, Apocalypse, and Stryfe himself. Stryfe still includes Wolfsbane in the X-Force lineup, even though she does not appear in this issue.

The events of M-Day, depicted in HOUSE OF M #7-8, reduced the world’s mutant population from over 16 million to a few hundred.

William Stryker’s Purifiers, aided by the knowledge of the future granted to them from their recovered Nimrod unit, attacked the Xavier Institute in NEW X-MEN (2nd series) #23-28 and killed a total of 45 students. In this issue, Cyclops states the X-Men lost 27 students in this attack, but this figure is inaccurate, and, incidentally, more closely coincides with the number of depowered students whose parents came to retrieve their remains.

The Purifiers attacked the hospital in Cooperstown, Alaska in X-MEN: MESSIAH COMPLEX #1. Cable was revealed to have intervened and saved the baby’s life in X-MEN (2nd series) #205.

Bishop meets Stryfe at a bar called “Betty Noir’s”. This name is uncannily similar to “Le Bête Noir”, the name of an entity both Bishop and Stryfe encountered in the GAMBIT & BISHOP miniseries. Whether the name “Betty Noir’s” pays homage to the events of this series or foreshadows events to come is unclear at this point.

Le Bête Noir—French for “the black beast”—is an ancient entity with the potential to rival the Phoenix Force in terms of power. Long ago, the Phoenix Force trapped it within the Earth’s core, but it latched on to Bishop as he traveled back to the present following the events of BISHOP: THE LAST X-MAN #14-15. In GAMBIT & BISHOP #1-6, Stryfe intended to harness the power of Le Bête Noir to destroy the world, but after he realized not even he could contain its power, he pulled it out of Bishop’s body and into his own to contain it. Stryfe then seemingly committed suicide.

This issue marks Stryfe’s first appearance since he killed himself at the end of GAMBIT & BISHOP #6. How he is alive after that incident is, at this point, unclear. A clone of Nathan Christopher Summers—but free of Nathan’s techno-organic virus infection—Stryfe wants revenge against Apocalypse for raising him solely to be a host body for his own essence.

Stryfe’s comment about Cable being dead is confusing, considering it was Cable who saw Stryfe die in GAMBIT & BISHOP #6. Since Stryfe somehow survived that incident and has remained undercover ever since, he, like the rest of the world, probably still believes Cable died on Providence Island in X-MEN (2nd series) #200.

The X-Men took down the mutant-devouring Predator X in X-MEN (2nd series) #207. In that same issue, Bishop accidentally shot Professor X in the head.

The image of Cable cradling Hope on Muir Island in the year 2043 comes from CABLE (2nd series) #1. The image of Cable and Hope in the remains of a building comes from KING-SIZE CABLE SPECTACULAR #1, as does the scene of Hope running from a mutant bear. The images from 2276—both of Cable playing with Hope while his wife watches and of Hope crying in front of a gravestone—come from the “New Liberty” arc in CABLE (2nd series) #7-10.

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