East of Gotham: The Messiah CompleX Review

Welcome back X-Crossovers. The Messiah CompleX has finally completed and is generally perceived as a roaring success. Not since the days of Scott Lobdell has a X-Men crossover done this well. Let’s take a look at what it did, how the plot was handled, and what was accomplished in the wake of this mammoth event.

This event was first and foremost necessary due to the absolute mess Marvel made of M-Day. M-Day was the climax of the House of M event, where the Scarlet Witch made it so the majority of the world’s mutants were gone. This left the X-Men, dedicated to peaceful mutant and human co-existence, without a job. There were nearly no mutants left, so the peaceful coexistence of a minority numbering in the hundreds was made a moot point, also killing the X-Men’s literary value as an allegory for real world racism.

Although this was beyond huge for the X-Men, and something needed to be done with it, the entire concept was ignored as two thirds of the X-Men went to space and the others were assembled into a strangely built strike force. The entire event felt like little more than a wasted opportunity, just a bad story idea for this line.

Now, two years later, along comes Endangered Species to try and convince us that M-Day’s Decimation actually matters. Endangered Species was a series of backup strips running in all the X-Books starring Beast frantically looking for a cure. Since he didn’t find one, apparently we were meant to accept that this was a Very Big Deal and move on. Naturally it didn’t really work, but it was a good faith effort and we’ll take it as such.

Messiah CompleX is, nominally, undoing this whole mess. To do so we have a 13 part crossover spanning the entire line and running weekly. The entire story is built around chasing the first mutant born since M-Day who is remarkably powerful and important… though we’re not quite sure how. Since it’s a chase story, there’s some very good misdirection about who has the baby, but the actual realization of that person(s) by Cyclops follows no plot logic and might as well have been an epiphany. Actually, so is the X-Men’s ambivalence to the baby’s parenting and records, genetics, as well as their surety that this is a baby and not a time travel event or dimension cross, as has happened in the past (remember X-Man, Stryfe and Cable?). The frantic pace mostly covers up these holes in plot logic, making the chase and constant, manic fighting for the baby, who represents steering the course of the race’s future, feel exceedingly important to all characters involved.

All of the ancillary teams were brought in on this crossover, though not all of them fit. The New X-Men in particular had nothing worthwhile to add to the proceedings, but they merrily tramped along with their own revenge driven agenda. X-Factor fared rather better. The book is mostly about Madrox and Layla Miller, so since they went to the future to find information about the baby, their part works well. I still don’t understand why people don’t get the Fantastic Four’s help with this sort of thing more often, but alas, that’s an issue of the shared universe not unique to X-Men.

The hands the baby ends up in make a reasonable amount of storyline sense, though the lack, again, of curiosity to how it was born and research into that is rather baffling. Still, for a heat of the moment decision, it quite works. This, rather organically, leads to the new Cable status quo and ongoing title. The new status quo’s of other characters and books ties in rather more tenuously.

Somehow this arc manages to cure Rogue of having billions of minds inside her. She instead ends up with one mind meeting her own. This is so bad for her that she apparently chooses a life of seclusion. Explaining how one mind, no matter how bad, is worse than billions will really take some serious doing.

Next, we have the X-Men disbanding. Since it’s in all the previews, it’s not a major spoiler to say that Professor X gets shot. This is, by all accounts, a red herring. He’ll be back quite soon. The X-Men, though, finally realized they’re rather irrelevant and we can get to stories of them as individuals while the situation and storyline for the baby’s actual, you know, purpose and effect, is sorted out. X-Men Legacy will see the fate of Xavier. Both good premises and new directions.

The new X-Force team will be kept together, though beyond each member of the crew having similar powers to Wolverine, I have no idea why. I suppose Marvel is just happy for the top seller with Wolverine and X-23 on the same team.

X-Factor returns to normal and become their own niche, while Young X-Men become exactly what the name implies. Neither was greatly effected here, so this can be accomplished rather painlessly, though a bit of a shakeup is left to make sure the importance of the event is understood.

Overall, this crossover worked. There are some plot problems in the set-up, and it really was a macGuffin chase (and no Fabian Nicieza, for shame!), but it was very well paced and absolutely necessary for an event to address and begin to undo Decimation. This accomplished that in tone and began the healing from that event -no small feat- while leaving tremors that will, unlike Decimation, have active effects on the issue to issue plots of each story, leaving books more cohesive than they were prior.

Come back soon for a discussion of Planet and World War Hulk!