By Craig Kyle & Christopher Yost (Writers) and Clayton Crain (Art)

Some Thoughts Before The Review: The Messiah War crossover event really hasn’t even started yet. So far, it’s been a whole lot of expositional dialogue and very little action. I’d expect that to change in chapter three, especially considering how chapter two ended.

The Story: X-Force, Cable, Hope, and Deadpool fight off Stryfe’s warriors in a bloody battle. During the fight, Archangel hears a voice calling out to him. Meanwhile, Stryfe waits for the best moment to attack. As for Bishop, well he’s in charge of most of the exposition.

What’s Good: The latest part of Messiah War is definitely a step up from the last one, though that really isn’t saying much. While most of it is driven by crazy action sequences, the writing team does a nice job of balancing the book by effectively using character moments and slower scenes to move the plot along. It helps that Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost have a very good handle on the fairly large cast. The characters could easily be lost among the bloody violence, but that is, thankfully, not the case. Everyone gets a chance to make an impact under Kyle and Yost. Especially in the case of Vanisher, who manages to bring dark humor to the story more successfully than Deadpool, a character that pretty much lives and dies by how well a writer handles his particular style of black comedy.

What’s Not So Good: The artwork in the third chapter of Messiah War is very much a mixed bag. While I firmly believe that Clayton Crain is a great fit for a series like X-Force, he tends to be his own worst enemy. When everything in his work manages to click (which it does quite often), it looks extremely good. But when something is off, an entire panel can be ruined. And too many panels are ruined in X-Force #14. Sometimes the work is far too dark. Other times everything looks very muddy and undefined. The worst though, is when the character work bounces from one extreme to another, sometimes in the same panel. The art looks either too hyper-detailed, and over-exaggerated or so indistinct that characters look like little more than blobs of color.

As for the story, it still feels like it’s plodding along. While the action in X-Force #14 is welcome and the ending is intriguing (if a bit too predictable), the whole thing lacks the kinetic urgency that drove the Messiah Complex along. I find that a bit surprising, especially because the stakes are just as high, if not higher in some ways.

Conclusion: The Messiah War is definitely gaining momentum, but it’s still a ways behind the Messiah Complex in terms of both scope and excitement.

Grade: B-

-Kyle Posluszny