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X-Men Messiah Complex

Review

X-Men Messiah Complex

With three little words, "No more mutants," Wanda Maximoff reduced the mutant population from several million to a few hundred. In the blink of an eye, the entire mutant race became an endangered species. A year after this holocaust comes the first mutant birth, a birth that can mean either hope or annihilation.

Ed Brubaker (Captain America, Daredevil) kicks off MESSIAH COMPLEX with a grisly start. Cooperstown, Alaska, has come under assault by warring factions of mutants and antimutant extremists, both hunting for the newborn. The entire city is on fire, and every child has been murdered, except one. When the X-Men arrive, they quickly learn of the child's abduction, and the race is on to save what could potentially be the most important mutant on Earth.

Some believe the new mutant to be a messiah; others believe this birth is the harbinger of doom. Multiple factions are competing with one another for control of the child, for control of the future. It is a hunt that spans both time and space, with the search carrying from Alaska to Canada, from Texas to Scotland. A team is dispatched to two possible futures in the hope that the identity of the abductor and the location of the child can be found, and why this baby is so important.

X-MEN: MESSIAH COMPLEX collects the entire 13-issue story arc in a single oversized hardcover. Originally published through single-issue format across the various titles of the X-Men franchise, MESSIAH COMPLEX was the crossover event for Marvel in 2007-08, and the largest crossover between the X-comics in many years. It harkened back to the ’90s, when these type of big-event stories were published with annual regularity, drawing in numerous titles and hosts of characters, writers and artists.

MESSIAH COMPLEX recalls the glory days of the X-franchise and the brilliant, huge stories that were told through X-TINCTION AGENDA, X-CUTIONER’S SONG and FATAL ATTRACTIONS. Built upon the few years worth of stories, beginning with HOUSE OF M, this story was a huge event for X-Men readers, and Marvel Comics did right by it.

The storytelling is set at a rapid-fire pace and never lets up. There's a compelling sense of urgency as heroes and villains are pitted against one another to find this missing child, and the narrative flows well across the various writers tasked with bringing the plot to life. There's some great twists and turns throughout. It's an epic chase story, filled with danger and nonstop action that gives plenty of fan favorites a moment to shine, certainly a feat by itself considering the large cast of characters.

The art is, by and large, top-notch. Action scenes (and there are many) are deftly handled. While some are more chaotic than others, they are, thankfully, never confusing. Marc Silvestri's art in the opening chapter is simply beautiful, and Billy Tan does some excellent work on the Uncanny X-Men portions, serving the flagship X-title well. The pencil work by Humberto Ramos in the New X-Men sections of the book are a bit too cartoony when stacked up against the more refined artistic talents in the book. It's a minor quibble since it does not distract from the proceedings and is easy to overlook considering how fast readers are propelled through the pages.

MESSIAH COMPLEX is an epic book that is only part of a larger saga. While it builds off earlier works that have impacted the entirety of the Marvel Universe, it stands well enough on its own that there is no required reading list before diving in, but it does not end here. It marks the beginning of a trilogy that continues with MESSIAH WAR and SECOND COMING, which is good, because by the time readers reach the end of this book, they'll definitely want to know what comes next.

Reviewed by Michael Hicks on November 12, 2008

X-Men Messiah Complex
written by Ed Brubaker, Peter David, Craig Kyle, Chris Yost and Mike Carey; illustrated by Marc Silvestri, Billy Tan, Scot Eaton, Humberto Ramos and Chris Bachalo

  • Publication Date: November 12, 2008
  • Genres: Graphic Novel
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Marvel
  • ISBN-10: 0785123202
  • ISBN-13: 9780785123200