Messiah Complex

Release Date: 
December 2007 to March 2008
Plot / Theme: 

Ever since M-Day depowered most of the world’s mutants and seemingly eliminated the X-gene from existence, the X-Men have given up hope of seeing another generation of mutants. Further, they have endured massive losses because of a series of devastating attacks by the Purifiers and Mr. Sinister’s Marauders. Most alarming of all, the X-Men have lost faith in their founder, Professor X. However, during what may be their darkest hour yet, a ray of light appears that gives them hope for the future of their entire species: a mutant birth. Of course, the X-Men are not the only party interested in this new mutant. In their struggle to recover the infant before it falls into the clutches of the Marauders or Acolytes, dies at the bigoted hands of the Purifiers or becomes the next meal for the ravenous Predator X, the X-Men must also cope with the possibility that one of their own may be pursuing his own agenda—even if it means working against his former teammates.

Characters Involved
  • Angel, Beast, Bishop, Cable, Caliban, Colossus, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Hepzibah, Nightcrawler, Professor X, Rogue, Storm, Warpath, Wolverine (all X-Men)
  • Jamie Madrox, Layla Miller, M, Rictor, Siryn, Strong Guy, Wolfsbane (all X-Factor)
  • Anole, Armor, Dust, Elixir, Gentle, Hellion, Indra, Mercury, Pixie, Prodigy, Rockslide, Stepford Cuckoos, Surge, Trance, Wolf Cub, X-23 (all New X-Men)
  • Forge (former X-Man)
  • Messiah baby
  • Predator X (mutant-hunting monster)
  • Mr. Sinister
  • Arclight, Blockbuster, Gambit, Harpoon, Lady Mastermind, Mystique, Omega Sentinel, Prism, Riptide, Scalphunter, Sunfire, Scrambler, Vertigo (all Marauders)
  • Exodus, Frenzy, Gargouille, Neophyte, Projector, Random, Tempo, Unuscione, Vindaloo, Amelia Voght (all Acolytes)

    Secondary Characters:

  • Reverend Matthew Risman (Purifiers)
  • The Purifiers
  • Lady Deathstrike
  • The Reavers
  • Peepers
  • Lex, Slayton (both Sentinel Squad O*N*E)

    In the future:

  • Lucas Bishop
Issues Involved: 

X-Men: Messiah Complex #1, Uncanny X-Men #492-494, X-Factor (3rd series) #25-27, New X-Men (2nd series) #44-46 and X-Men (2nd series) #205-207



  • In the aftermath of the House of M, most of the world’s mutants were depowered and any hope of new mutants appearing seemed lost forever. Among those who lost their powers was Rictor, who now serves as a member of X-Factor Investigations. [House of M crossover, X-Factor (3rd series)]
  • After the revelation about Professor Xavier’s past misdeeds— including his cover-up of the second team of X-Men that died on Krakoa and his enslavement of the sentient entity within the Danger Room— many of the X-Men no longer trust Xavier. Chief among these is Cyclops, whose brother Vulcan was among the X-Men thought to have died on Krakoa. [Astonishing X-Men (3rd series) #7-12, X-Men: Deadly Genesis #1-6]
  • Mr. Sinister recruited Gambit and Sunfire, both reeling from the effects of their transformations into Apocalypse’s Horsemen, to the Marauders. [X-Men (2nd series) #187]
  • The villainous scientist Pandemic infected Rogue with a virus called Strain 88 that amplified her powers to the point that she killed anyone she touched. On top of this, to save the people of Providence Island, Rogue absorbed the eight billion lives within an incoming alien weapon called the Hecatomb. [X-Men (2nd series) #194-199]
  • Shortly thereafter, three of Rogue’s team of X-Men— Lady Mastermind, Mystique and Omega Sentinel— betrayed their teammates to the Marauders. Lady Mastermind defected of her own free will, Mystique in order to capture Rogue, and Omega Sentinel due to the influence of Malice, Mr. Sinister’s digital accomplice. [X-Men (2nd series) #200-204]
  • To prevent any other parties from foreseeing an impending event, Mr. Sinister ordered the Marauders to assassinate anyone with precognitive powers or connections to the future. On this list was the mutant time-traveler Cable, whom Gambit and Sunfire attempted to kill with a massive explosion on Providence Island. [X-Men (2nd series) #200]
  • Long before M-Day, Lady Deathstrike worked for Rev. William Stryker, at one point even breaking him out of prison. [X-Treme X-Men #25-30]
  • Immediately after M-Day, Stryker’s Purifiers attacked the Xavier Institute, murdering forty-five students. [New X-Men (2nd series) #20-27]
  • Stryker learned from Nimrod that a new mutant would be born shortly after M-Day— a mutant so powerful not even the Purifiers could stop it. To eliminate this “mutant antichrist” as an infant, the Purifiers contracted the scientists at the Facility to construct a beast specifically designed to hunt mutant DNA. The Facility completed this creature— dubbed Predator X — thanks in part to a bodily sample they forcibly obtained from Mercury, a student at the Xavier Institute. Predator X set off on its way for the Xavier Institute to feast, only to turn around at the last minute because of a new, powerful mutant presence in Alaska. [New X-Men (2nd series) #33-36, 43]

Short Summary:
While using Cerebra one evening, Professor X detects the manifestation of a massively powerful mutant in Alaska. The sudden energy spike fries Cerebra and startles the other resident telepaths, but Xavier remains optimistic, believing this manifestation - the first since the devastating fallout from M-Day - may be the “rebirth of hope.”

When the X-Men arrive at the mutant’s coordinates in Cooperstown, Alaska, they find the entire town ablaze. Emma Frost detects very few signs of life, none of them belonging to a child. While rescuing the survivors from the inferno and wondering if the new mutant caused the devastation, the X-Men discover the corpses of Blockbuster and Prism - two of Mr. Sinister’s Marauders - as well as the bodies of several Purifiers. Cyclops wonders how both of these groups beat them to the site. To get some answers, Emma reads the mind of a grieving mother and learns that the event that brought them there was not a mutant manifesting its powers at puberty - but a mutant birth. After further investigation, the X-Men conclude that one of the attacking parties made off with the mutant baby.

To get information about the Marauders and their plans for the mutant baby, Cyclops sends a squad to interrogate some of the Acolytes, who recently formed an alliance with the Marauders. The X-Men question the former Acolyte Amelia Voght for information on the whereabouts of her former teammates and their allies, the Marauders. Voght divulges the location of the secret Marauder base in Antarctica. Before they arrive, Professor X asks to know what Cyclops plans on doing but Cyclops emphatically asks him to keep out of things. Feeling useless, Professor X tries talking with Beast for moral support, but Beast’s attention remains on some unsettlingly familiar technology they recovered from the dead Purifiers in Alaska.

Cyclops summons Jamie Madrox and Rictor from X-Factor Investigations to the Xavier Institute. After some external persuasion, Madrox and Rictor arrive at the Institute with their young friend Layla Miller in tow. Layla correctly deduces that Cyclops wants to send the ex-mutant Rictor undercover into the Purifiers as a mole. As per Cyclops’s request, Rictor gains the trust of a group of Purifiers, thanks to an ingenious diversion from Wolfsbane. After scanning his DNA with some alarmingly advanced technology to ensures that he is not an undercover mutant, the Purifiers inform Rictor of their plans for mutantkind.

Meanwhile, Scott sends Madrox to meet with Forge. Madrox and Layla visit Forge’s Aerie in Dallas. Forge informs them that, while most alternate futures stemming from M-Day have flat-lined as far as mutants are concerned, two suddenly show mutant activity. He and Cyclops want to send one of Madrox’s dupes into each of these alternate futures to gather intel. Using his time-travel machine, Forge sends the first of Madrox’s dupes into one of the timelines.

As Forge prepares to send the other volunteer to the other timeline, however, Layla rushes onto the platform and clings to the Madrox dupe as he jaunts into the timestream. Frantic, Madrox asks Forge to bring Layla back, but Forge reveals he cannot because the machine only travels in one direction and Layla is trapped in the future. Forge explains that, because the dupes in the future can never return, they must commit suicide once they gather the necessary intel, which Madrox-prime will then reabsorb into his mind. Madrox suddenly falls comatose.

Back at the Xavier Institute, the New X-Men tell Cyclops they want to help find the kidnapped mutant baby. He orders them to stay out of it - for their own sake. Of course, the New X-Men disobey Cyclops. Surge rallies most of her teammates - including Hellion, Rockslide, X-23, Pixie, Anole, Mercury and their fellow student Armor - to invade the Purifiers' base, rescue the baby, and get revenge for what the Purifiers did to their friends. Dust, Prodigy and Elixir opt to sit this mission out, viewing it as an attempt at vengeance. Meanwhile, the New X-Men infiltrate the church of Reverend William Stryker in Washington, D.C. Just as Anole learns the Purifiers do not have the mutant baby, he stumbles upon the X-Men’s mole, Rictor, who urges the New X-Men to leave. Anole tells Rictor not to worry; he and his teammates can handle the Purifiers. Rictor informs him the Purifiers have dangerous allies. At that moment, the other New X-Men are ambushed by the very group that has been supplying the Purifiers with their advanced technology: the Reavers. They are led by Lady Deathstrike, who impales Hellion through the chest. Pixie haphazardly teleports the New X-Men away.

Bishop confronts Cyclops and asks why he didn’t send him to Antarctica with the rest of the X-Men. Simultaneously, Wolverine, Colossus, Storm, Angel and Nightcrawler assault Mr. Sinister’s headquarters in Antarctica and come face to face with the combined might of the Marauders, the Acolytes and Mr. Sinister himself. In Antarctica, the X-Men attack the Marauders and retain the advantage throughout the battle - thanks to remote support from Emma Frost. Emma loses her concentration when she senses Pixie’s distress following the Reaver’s attack and her botched attempt at teleporting her team out of harm’s way. Once blocked out of Sinister’s base, Emma finds she cannot reconnect telepathically, leaving the X-Men stranded. Cut off from the other X-Men and with Sinister incapacitating Colossus and Angel, Storm orders Nightcrawler to escape with Wolverine while she covers their retreat. Unfortunately, Lady Mastermind, Scrambler and Omega Sentinel nearly kill Wolverine with a three-way attack. As Nightcrawler teleports Wolverine to safety, he is shot in the shoulder by Scalphunter. Safe for the moment, Nightcrawler collapses in the snow, nearly dead. Despite the damage the X-Men took and their failure to recover Rogue, Wolverine did learn from the traitor Gambit that the Marauders do not have the baby either - thus making the mission marginally worthwhile. He contacts Emma and tells her that it is not one of their enemies who has the baby, but one of their own: Cable.

The X-Men try to figure out what Cable’s involvement entails when the O*N*E Sentinel pilots outside the Institute succumb to a nano-Sentinel infection and attack the mansion. Just as the Sentinels strike, a psychic attack takes down every telepath within Xavier’s Institute. The remaining X-Men fight back against the attacking Sentinels while Iceman retrieves the scattered New X-Men with the Blackbird. After sustaining some serious injuries, the X-Men defeat the Sentinels but the pilots infected with nano-Sentinels vow to terminate the mutants before departing. The Antarctica recovery team returns, as Cyclops assesses the condition of his teams. Many of the mutants are too injured to help. To make matters worse, the Institute’s healer, Elixir, is comatose after sustaining injuries during the attack.

With few options left, Cyclops assembles a team of trackers and killers to recover the baby from Cable. He names this team - consisting of Wolverine, Warpath, X-23, Wolfsbane, Caliban and Hepzibah - “X-Force.” X-Force departs, tracking Cable via Caliban’s mutant-tracking power. Some time later, Lady Deathstrike and the Reavers ambush Cable in the snowy tundra of Canada, quickly disarming him as he focuses on protecting the baby.

Just as Lady Deathstrike moves in to deliver the coup de grace to Cable, X-Force arrives and distracts her and the Reavers, allowing Cable to sneak back to X-Force’s Blackbird and escape with the baby. Unfortunately, during the battle, Caliban sacrifices himself while trying to save Warpath.

Eighty years in the future, Madrox’s dupe and Layla arrive in New York City. Beginning a search of mutants, they discover the only remaining mutants are in concentration camps, such as the one in Sheepshead Bay. Layla suggests to Madrox they get themselves placed into one of the, a plan to which Madrox reluctantly agrees. Upon arrival at the camp, Madrox and Layla receive genetic “M” tattoos over one eye that are identical to the one Bishop, the time-traveling X-Man from this same era, bears on his face. In fact, they meet a young Lucas Bishop among the camp’s prisoners and learn from him that the first mutant baby born after M-Day caused the death of a million humans, sentencing mutants to the fate of concentration camps. The angry young Bishop wishes she were never born. Deducing from this that the Bishop of the present is the biggest danger to the mutant baby, Layla deems their mission complete and kills the Madrox dupe with a stolen grenade, sending his consciousness back to the comatose Madrox in the present.

In the present, Professor X questions Cyclops’s judgment in sending a team of killers after his own son. Angered, Cyclops tells the Professor to leave so he can lead the X-Men. Elsewhere, Emma Frost assures Surge she did the right thing with her team. Afterward, she and Cyclops gather the remains of the X-Men and their allies - Storm, Strong Guy, Siryn, M, Colossus, Cannonball, Angel, Iceman and Darwin - and depart to help Wolverine and X-Force. Having lost their mutant tracker Caliban in battle, the X-Men seek another way to locate Cable. Cyclops has Prodigy repair Cerebra, which the Stepford Cuckoos then use to discover Cable’s location. They find him outside of Dallas, Texas - obviously heading to get help from Forge. Cyclops urges his people to get there before Cable does.

Cable arrives first, waving the figurative white flag of surrender as he enters the aerie. To his surprise, he finds Forge beaten and unconscious and is then shot from behind by his fellow time-traveling mutant, Bishop. With Cable down, Bishop aims his gun at the helpless mutant messiah child. He hesitates for a single moment and it costs him dearly. Gambit and several of the Marauders arrive, wrest the baby from Bishop’s grasp and leave him buried alive beneath a pile of rubble. Gambit wonders what could have happened to cause Bishop to suddenly flip his lid and decide to murder an infant. Gambit and the Marauders return home to Muir Island and present the recovered infant to Mr. Sinister. Sinister tells the Marauders to prepare for the impending X-Men attack.

Meanwhile, Cable wakes and in desperation reaches out to Professor X who helps repair the damage to his body. He listens to Cable’s side of the story and learns that the mutant baby is tremendously important, not just to the future of the mutantkind but to the entire world. They head to Muir Island to rescue her from the Marauders.

Bishop manages to crawl out of the rubble before the X-Men arrive. He lies to the team, telling them he came to Forge’s Aerie at Cyclops’s request, only to find Forge unconscious and Cable pillaging the place for tech. He says the Marauders arrived and took the baby but left Cable, who then escaped. Cyclops orders the remaining X-Men, including Bishop, to rescue the baby from the Marauders. He also orders the Stepford Cuckoos to find Cable so they can remove him from the conflict. When the Cuckoos learn the Marauders are on Muir Island, Cyclops sends Wolverine, X-Force and Bishop to retrieve the baby.

Mr. Sinister takes Gambit and the baby inside, where Sinister reveals that he is actually Mystique in disguise. The true Mr. Sinister lies dead on the floor, killed when Mystique forced him to touch Rogue’s bare skin. Mystique informs Gambit that she killed Sinister because she could not have him interfering with her plans to save Rogue. As Destiny foretold in her diaries, Mystique could only regain Rogue’s love by curing her with the messiah baby’s power. To get all the players into position, Mystique manipulated everyone, including Mr. Sinister and the Marauders. She convinced Gambit to help her for Rogue’s sake. She did not inform him of what she intended to do next. Mystique thrusts the innocent baby to Rogue’s lips, ignoring the risks this poses to the infant. To her surprise, nothing happens - at first. Gambit scolds her for risking a child’s life in this way.

X-Force lands outside, in the midst of one of Lady Mastermind’s illusions. However, Wolverine sniffs her out and plunges his claws through her abdomen. As her illusion drops, the X-Men realize they have walked right into a Marauder ambush. The ensuing battle seems to favor the Marauders but Cyclops and the rest of the X-Men finally arrive to help. Back in Westchester, Madrox awakes with a jerk and immediately asks to see Bishop. Emma reads his mind and gets the whole story. When they try to contact Wolverine to warn him of the traitor within his team, they find only radio and telepathic silence.

Following the birth of the mutant baby, Predator X had followed its mutant signature to Alaska but had found only the corpses of Prism and Blockbuster, which it greedily consumed. Reversing course, it made its way to the Xavier Institute, devouring the mutant Peepers along the way. Arriving at the mansion, it began feeding on the remains of the deceased students in the cemetery until it was discovered by the New X-Men. As Predator X chases the remaining New X-Men around the mansion, Pixie teleports it - along with Armor, Beast, Nightcrawler and the remaining members of the New X-Men - to X-23’s current position on Muir Island, knowing that Laura had successfully defeated one of the creatures before. Unfortunately, this lands the woefully unprepared New X-Men in the middle of the battle between the X-Men, Marauders and Acolytes.

Amidst the chaos, Cable and Professor X arrive to find the baby with Gambit, who is eager to turn the baby over to the professor. Charles gives the baby to Cable to take to the future for safekeeping. Before he can timeslide, Bishop arrives, leveling his gun at Cable and the messiah baby. To make matters worse, Predator X appears right behind Cable and its most desired target. Fortunately for Cable, Predator X attacks Bishop first, devouring one of his arms. The X-Men arrive and focus on eliminating Predator X, a feat Wolverine accomplishes by letting the monster eat him so he can rip it apart from the inside-out.

Inside the lab, Rogue awakes from her coma. Upon learning that her adoptive mother planned to sacrifice an innocent baby to heal her, Rogue decides to end her menace for good. She touches Mystique with her bare hand, intending to kill her with her death touch but nothing happens. This not only surprises the completely healed Rogue, but introduces the absorbed psyche of Mystique into her otherwise-clean consciousness. Rogue leaves by herself to deal with her mental intruder.

With all the obvious threats eliminated, Cyclops and Cable argue over what will happen with the baby. Xavier interjects and convinces Cable to give the infant to Scott. As Cyclops holds the child, she reaches out to the locket he wears around his neck, which contains a photo of him and Jean. He is struck by how much this situation parallels the time he sent his own son, Nathan Christopher Summers, into the future to save his life. He decides to allow Cable to take the baby to the future so she can choose her own destiny.

As Cable slips into the timestream, Bishop regains consciousness and fires at him. He misses Cable by a mere second and instead hits Professor X in the head. Cyclops blasts Bishop away and immediately turns to see how badly Charles has been hurt. Bishop escapes while the Beast examines Professor X and concludes that he is dead. As the stunned X-Men stand around the lifeless body of their former leader and mentor, Cyclops declares that Xavier’s dream began with the man - and ends with him as well. "There are no X-Men" he says. Suddenly, Xavier’s body vanishes.


Meanwhile, Cable arrives in the future on Muir Island with the most world’s most important mutant clutched tightly to his chest…

Repercussions / lasting effects: 


  • Cyclops disbands the X-Men in the wake of Professor Xavier’s death. During this period of aimlessness, he and Emma Frost migrate to San Francisco, where they decide to reform the X-Men and invite all the world’s mutants to come stay for sanctuary. Instead of restarting the school, Cyclops turns the X-Men into a private, mutant militia. [Uncanny X-Men #495-current]
  • To deal with the threat still posed by the Purifiers, Cyclops reactivates X-Force with Wolverine, X-23 and Warpath, and sends them on covert assassination jobs. Wolfsbane quits X-Factor Investigations specifically to join this team because she wants to learn more about Reverend Craig’s connection to the Purifiers. [X-Force (3rd series), X-Factor (3rd series) #28]
  • Not wanting to deal with her treachery anymore, Cyclops sends Wolverine to get Mystique. [Wolverine (3rd series) #62-65]
  • The footage from the Cooperstown Massacre leaks to the media, who assigns the blame to mutantkind. Simon Trask later uses this as justification for his proposed mutant breeding law, Proposition X. This adds to the growing tensions the X-Men must deal with as Cyclops attempts to unite mutantkind. [Uncanny X-Men #507-onward]


  • Layla remains trapped 80 years in the future. In her attempt to return to her own time, she helps start the infamous Summers Rebellion that frees mutants in the future from confinement in concentration camps. [X-Factor: Layla Miller, X-Factor (3rd series) #40-50]
  • Jamie Madrox and Layla Miller now have “M” tattoos over their right eyes.
  • The time-traveling duplicate of Jamie Madrox that didn’t end up in Bishop’s timeline eventually surfaces as the fully self-sufficient dupe calling himself “Cortex” and noticeably lacking his earlier altruism.

New X-Men:

  • The New X-Men disband. In the absence of mutant leadership, several of the younger X-Men fall victim to the scheming of Donald Pierce who poses as Cyclops. His scheme ultimately results in the death of the young mutant Wolf Cub. [Young X-Men #1-5]


  • Bishop recovers and pursues Cable and the messiah baby into the timestream, intent on preventing his future from coming to pass. [Cable (2nd series)]
  • Eventually, Cyclops locates Cable’s position in the future and sends X-Force to return him and the messiah baby to the present. Bishop comes up with his own plan to put an end to the baby’s escape— permanently. [X-Force/Cable: Messiah War #1, Cable (2nd series) #13-15, X-Force (3rd series) #14-16]


  • Thanks to Tempo’s time-altering abilities, the Acolytes recover the body of Professor Xavier and repair his brain using Exodus’s healing powers. When Xavier awakens, he discovers holes in his memory and sets off on a quest of self-discovery to learn about himself and atone for the mistakes of his past. [X-Men: Legacy #208-225]
  • To cope with her new situation, Rogue travels to the Australian Outback for some alone time, but finds the presence of Mystique’s consciousness within her own makes this difficult. [X-Men: Legacy #210, 215, 221-224]
  • The death of Mr. Sinister activates a series of fail-safes he had installed earlier in his life. After unsuccessfully shuffling through a series of viable bodies to inhabit, Mr. Sinister’s legacy lives on through the body of a woman named Claudine Renko, known thereafter as Miss Sinister. [X-Men: Legacy #210-214]
  • The brain damage Forge sustains causes him to forget everything he knows about time travel. According to a theory of Beast’s, the sudden appearance of such a powerful mutant on Earth activates countless latent, alternate timelines containing mutants. One of these alternate Earths then begins investigating Earth-616 for a possible takeover, which Forge fights to stop. [Astonishing X-Men (3rd series) #25-30]
  • After the surviving Marauders disperse, Scalphunter goes into hiding, taking a job as a short-order cook in a desert café. A surprise visit from Nightcrawler forces Scalphunter to reevaluate his life and he turns to the side of good. [X-Men: Divided We Stand #1, X-Force (3rd series) #7]
  • Somehow, Lady Deathstrike survives X-23’s attack. After getting some massive repairs in Spiral’s Body Shoppe, she and Spiral accept an invitation to join the Red Queen’s Sisterhood. [Uncanny X-Men #504]
  • Lady Mastermind also shows up, alive and well, as a member of the Red Queen’s Sisterhood. [Uncanny X-Men #508]
  • The fate of the nano-Sentinel-infected O*N*E officers who vowed to destroy mutants is as yet unrevealed.
Last Updated: 
2nd March 2009