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|Publication date||May – July 2009|
"Messiah War" is a crossover storyline running through the issues of Cable and X-Force with cover dates of May through July 2009 as well as a one-shot titled X-Force/Cable: Messiah War published by Marvel Comics. Writer Craig Kyle describes it as being the follow-up to Messiah Complex and "the middle chapter of what I think will be a major three-part saga, which will continue to define and redefine the X-Universe moving forward". The final chapter being The Second Coming.
Cyclops forcibly sends X-Force into the timestream in pursuit of Cable and Hope, cutting their operation against the Leper Queen short in spite of Wolverine's protests. X-Force arrives in the year 2973, with 32.5 hours to complete their mission before their time-travel devices accelerate their biology and kill them. Elixir removes his time-band, but mysteriously does not return to the present. As Vanisher discovers his teleportation powers also don't work, he is shot by a sniper, who is revealed to be the future Deadpool. X-Force takes Deadpool with them in search for Cable, whom X-23 tracks to the old United Nations building. Wolverine makes his way inside and finds Hope, before being held at gunpoint by Cable. When the rest of the team finds them, Cable tells X-Force they've walked into a trap, and shows them the celestial fortress of Apocalypse in the distance.
Deadpool tells X-Force and Cable his history from the past 900 years, and reveals that Stryfe rules this future, not Apocalypse. Cable refuses to believe this, but before the argument goes further they're ambushed by Stryfe's soldiers. It's revealed that Stryfe has an alliance with Bishop, who agreed to help Stryfe kill Apocalypse in exchange for his aid in killing Cable. Bishop avoids thinking about his true mission (killing Hope) for fear of what Stryfe would do if he read his mind. As X-Force finishes off Stryfe's troops, Archangel mysteriously flies off into the distance. Domino begins to grow suspicious of Deadpool, who points out that Stryfe has just launched from his citadel and is about to "kill them all". Meanwhile, Archangel investigates a cave and discovers a severely injured, but still living, Apocalypse.
X-Force and Cable engage Stryfe in battle, but don't last long against his vast telekinetic abilities. Cable detonates multiple explosives that cause the cliff to collapse, hoping to give X-Force an opening to retreat, but Stryfe captures Hope and Warpath. Although Warpath is subjected to numerous forms of torture, he refuses to think about Hope and continues taunting Stryfe. Bishop uses the distraction to neutralize Stryfe with nanomachines and attempts to kill Hope, but as he finally corners her, Stryfe recovers and subdues him. Hope's significance is revealed as Stryfe scans Bishop's mind, and as he approaches her, she removes his helmet and mistakenly believes he is Cable in disguise. Meanwhile, X-Force splits into two teams: Wolverine, Elixir & Cable head off to confront Stryfe; Domino, X-23, Vanisher & Deadpool search for the source of what's keeping X-Force trapped in the future.
Warpath flies into a rage after seeing Hope in the hands of Stryfe, and tries in vain to defeat him. With both Warpath and Bishop defeated, Stryfe confidently awaits the arrival of Cable, who opens with a minor telepathic assault but is quickly defeated. Stryfe soon realizes the real purpose behind the mental attack: to cloak Wolverine, who savagely attacks him. Elixir takes the opportunity to use his death touch on Stryfe, but he soon subdues the two with his telekinesis. He telepathically forces Elixir to heal him while forcing Wolverine to stab himself in the eyes. In the cave, Archangel struggles with the decision of killing Apocalypse, but ultimately decides against it. He hands Apocalypse two metallic feathers, which Apocalypse uses to rejuvenate himself. Apocalypse proposes they kill Stryfe together.
Domino, X-23, Vanisher & Deadpool eventually track down the source of what's preventing X-Force from returning to the present: Kiden Nixon, strapped to a device inside Graymalkin that uses her time manipulation powers to keep Stryfe's fortress out of the timestream. As Domino and X-23 argue over what to do with Kiden, Deadpool suddenly declares he's going to save the "annoying messiah kid" and leaves. Meanwhile, Cable and Bishop recover from Stryfe's assault and do battle with one another, until Bishop leaves Cable to struggle alone against a brain-damaged Wolverine. As Bishop confronts Stryfe and Hope, Cable intervenes and is followed by Wolverine (still brain-damaged) who attacks Stryfe. Just as Stryfe gains the upper hand once more, Deadpool arrives with a giant-sized laser cannon and blasts him off the platform. As Wolverine starts to recover and Deadpool starts celebrating, Stryfe returns and rips Deadpool in half. Meanwhile, Archangel returns Apocalypse to his celestial fortress, where he returns to his full strength, and the two move forward to confront Stryfe.
As Wolverine, Elixir, Warpath & Cable prepare to battle Stryfe once again, the time-travel devices reach 0:00 and attempt to pull X-Force back into the present. Kiden is still alive and hooked into Graymalkin, so X-Force remains in the future and begin to suffer debilitating side effects. Domino kills Kiden with a shot to the head, despite X-23's protests, and Vanisher removes his time-band to return to present time. The rest of X-Force remains to help Cable, who continues his fight against Stryfe until Archangel and Apocalypse finally arrive. Apocalypse claims he has been cleansed of his former weaknesses, and declares the Age of Stryfe at its end. Bishop uses the distraction to make one last attempt on Hope's life, but is stopped by Cable. In the ensuing struggle, Bishop gains the upper hand before his right eye is cut out by Wolverine. As Apocalypse and Archangel easily defeat Stryfe, Bishop escapes into the timestream. Apocalypse senses great power in Hope and deems her worthy of hosting his essence, but Angel demands he return her as payment for sparing his life. Apocalypse agrees and gives Hope to Cable, warning him that emotion will be their undoing. As X-Force leaves the citadel, Apocalypse teleports away dragging Stryfe, promising to transfer his essence into him.
As Cable and Hope jump into the timestream, X-Force stays behind to position themselves. Wolverine, Archangel & Elixir head to the United Nations, where they hope to find Hellion and Surge when they return to the present. As the three remove their time-bands, Domino & X-23 struggle to return to the building where Boom Boom was held by the Leper Queen. Domino goes blind and X-23, realizing that Domino won't make it, cuts off her time-band. She vows that she will save Boom Boom, in return for Domino helping Kiden when she could not. X-23 crawls to her destination and, prepared to kill the Leper Queen, removes her time-band to return to the present.
In the epilogue, a one-armed, one-eyed Bishop vows to track down Hope once again.
- Prologue: The Times and Life of Lucas Bishop #1-3
- Chapter 1: X-Force/Cable: Messiah War One-Shot
- Chapter 2: Cable #13
- Chapter 3: X-Force #14
- Chapter 4: Cable #14
- Chapter 5: X-Force #15
- Chapter 6: Cable #15
- Chapter 7: X-Force #16
The storyline is being collected into a single volume:
- X-Force/Cable: Messiah War (collects The Times and Life of Lucas Bishop #1-3, X-Force/Cable: Messiah War one-shot, Cable #13-15, X-Force #14-16, and X-Men: Future History - The Messiah War Sourcebook, hardcover, August 2009, ISBN 0-7851-3157-4, softcover, December 2009, ISBN 0-7851-3173-6)
- Messiah War at the Comic Book DB
- X-Force/Cable: Messiah War Prologue Preview, Comic Book Resources, February 26, 2009
- Messiah War - Dogs of War, IGN, March 16, 2009
- Duane Swierczynski and Chris Yost talk Messiah War, IGN, January 15, 2009
- Last Hope: Swierczynski on Messiah War, Comic Book Resources, April 10, 2009
- X-Force/Cable: Messiah War #1, Comic Book Resources
- Advance Review of X-Force/Cable: Messiah War Prologue #1, Comics Bulletin