The Messiah Complex continues to be an excellent story. Marvel has really impressed me with the quality work that has been done on this monster story arc. X-Men #206 is supposed to unveil the identity of a traitor among the ranks of the X-Men. So, I’m confident that X-Men #206 will be another enjoyable installment of the Messiah Complex. Let’s do this review.
Writer: Mike Carey
Pencils: Chris Bachalo
Inks: Tim Townsend
Art Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Jamie’s dupe and Layla being admitted into the Mutant Relocation Camp at Sheepshead Bay, New York. They get their heads shaved. Then they get their “M” tattoos over their right eyes just like Bishop sports.
We cut to Alberta, Canada where Cyclops and his team arrive on the scene. Warpath is mourning over Caliban’s dead body. Warpath screams in rage. That Caliban died saving him and that Warpath can’t make it right or pay Caliban back. Ever.
Wolverine brings Cyclops up to date about what happened during the battle. Cable disabled the tracking device in the Blackbird he stole so they can’t track him that way. And Cable is still blindsiding Emma telepathically so she can only get a general faint trace on him. Emma says that Cable is heading south. Cyclops has Caliban’s body loaded onto the Blackbird and the X-Men head south to find Cable.
We cut back to the X-Mansion where Prodigy is trying to repair Cerebra. We hop over to Cable and the baby on the side of an interstate in Texas. Cable jumps in front of a tractor trailer. The truck driver stops his rig and then Cable pulls the driver from the truck and puts the baby inside the tractor trailer and drives off.
We shift to the X-Men in the Blackbird headed south. Monet sits next to Warpath who is still covered in blood from the Reavers he killed. Warpath tells Monet to leave him alone. That his thoughts are none of her concern. Monet counters that if there was any way she could shut them out that she would. Monet says that Cyclops meant it when he said Caliban will get a proper X-Man burial once they are done with this mission. Warpath replies that a lot more people will need burying by then.
We slide back to the X-Mansion where Prodigy is done fixing Cerebra. The Emma’s girls hook into Cerebra and immediately find Cable’s location in Texas. They give the location in Texas to Emma. Cyclops comments that Cable is headed to Forge’s place. Cyclops says that he thinks he know what Cable is looking for and that Cable has got to be stopped.
We hop over to Forge’s place and see Cable driving the tractor trailer through the side of Forge’s place. Cable jumps out and yells for Forge. Cable exclaims that he is not here to fight Forge. That he is here to ask for Forge’s help. That Cable needs a time machine.
We cut back to the future and see Jamie’s dupe being dropped off into the yard where the mutants are being held. The other captive mutants appear on the scene and wake Jamie up. They then take him topside.
We slide back to Forge’s lab and see Cable and Forge lying on the ground. Bishop is standing over top of them with his gun pointed at the baby that is also lying on the floor. End of issue.
The Good: X-Men #206 was another good installment of the Messiah Complex story arc. This issue is well paced and plotted. Carey moves pushes the story along as the X-Men finally discover Cable’s location. X-Men #206 was mostly a mid story arc set up issue that serves to assemble all the players in place for a big push toward an exciting finish.
I loved how Carey handled Warpath’s reaction to Caliban’s death. I was a bit worried that Carey would play this over the top like a cheesy Schwarzenegger film. But, to my surprise, Carey actually played this scene with some restraint. Yeah, Warpath delivers the standard issue promise to kill someone speech, but Carey doesn’t overplay Warpath’s reaction to Caliban’s death at all.
The reader gets an excellent sense of Warpath’s raw anger over Caliban’s death. I dig how Carey portrayed Warpath’s sense of honor and debt. And it is understandable that it would plague Warpath not being able to re-pay the ultimate sacrifice that Caliban made for him. Warpath’s simmering rage that he is desperately trying to keep under wraps while talking with Monet makes the reader excited to see what happens when Warpath gets his hands on the Marauders.
Carey also handled Cyclops well in this issue. Carey picks up where Brubaker started by giving the reader a Cyclops that is calm, cool and collected under fire. Cyclops seems almost clinical in how he handles the death of Caliban and without hesitation plans for the next course of action. Scott has displayed incredible focus that borders on tunnel vision during the Messiah Complex.
I like that Carey has Scott emphasis that the mission is the number one priority and that everything else is secondary. Even Caliban’s death. Scott keeps getting more and more interesting as the writers continue to evolve his personality during the Messiah Complex.
Carey serves up a fantastic ending. My jaw was on the floor when I turned to the last page of this issue. It is impressive how the writers have been able to continually top themselves on this Messiah Complex story arc. They just keep dropping bomb after bomb on the reader and we are left to wonder just what in the world will happen next.
We learn that Cable has been headed to Forge the entire time in his desire to get his hands on a time machine. I’m sure that this must play into the future plotline involving Jamie’s dupe and Layla. And Bishop playing the role of the traitor makes sense given his connection to the future and that Jamie’s dupe and Layla are now sporting the same tattoo that is on Bishop’s face.
I’m curious to find out what happens next. The writers have done an excellent job making the reader unsure of who is on which side. Is Cable truly a traitor or does he simply feel that only he knows how to handle the current crisis? Is Bishop truly a traitor or is he acting under the influence of someone else?
The Bad: Despite a solid effort during Messiah Complex, Carey continues to be the weakest link on this story arc. Carey shows his writing limitations compared to the talented Ed Brubaker and Peter David. Carey’s dialogue is the weakest that we have gotten in the Messiah Complex story arc. None of the characters outside of Scott and Warpath display much of a personality. And at times the dialogue seems rote and a bit generic.
The future plotline involving Jamie’s dupe and Layla is plodding on way too slowly and is beginning to lose my interest. Hopefully, the ending of this issue means that the writers will finally heat up the future plotline in the next issue.
I still find Bachalo’s artwork rather unimpressive. While fine for an American manga styled adventure comic, I still find it to be a bad match for the X-Men. Thank god for the fact that the X-Men all have different costumes because everyone sports the same face. And Bachalo’s art sticks out like a sore thumb in a most unattractive way when compared to the art on the other issues of Messiah Complex.
Overall: X-Men #206 is another entertaining installment of the Messiah Complex story arc. The ending was fantastic and gets me excited for the next chapter of this story. The boys at Marvel have really hit a home run with the Messiah Complex. This story arc has certainly exceeded my wildest expectations. If you still haven’t given Messiah Complex a try then I definitely urge you to get it when it is released as a trade paperback.