Chris Franey

Chris’ Comic Book Corner – X-Men Hope Trilogy

X-men Hope Trilogy
Messiah Complex – Messiah War – Second Coming

First off, there will be spoilers…in the early 90’s the X-men were their own universe of comics to crossover with; we had a group of books with Uncanny, X-Force, X-Factor, New Mutants, Excalibur and X-men. Sometimes all or most of the books would cross over and we would have some amazing story arcs with: X-tinction Agenda, X-Cutioner’s Song, Fatal Attractions, Age of Apocalypse, Onslaught Saga, and Operation: Zero Tolerance. Things kind of stopped after 2000’s the Twelve and Eve of Destruction as that era of X-men ended and we got Grant Morrison’s run in which the characters were still connected but the books were not. With this change we had seen the X-men go to Hollywood and then a new version would come about, black leather; and some story arcs would return like the love triangle between Scott Summers, Jean Grey-Summers, and Logan, but now a new player had entered Emma Frost, the White Queen.
With Grant Morrison’s run we did see some amazing things, but it almost felt as if these were a different set of X-men and their adventures were well far removed from the Marvel Universe. The Mutants were also getting to be more in numbers so they no longer felt like they were pitted with their backs to the wall, but in New X-men issue 115, that changed as Cassandra Nova destroyed the island of Genosha and a lot of Mutants were killed. So now that the number of Mutants had been scaled back and Grant Morrison left the comic it was time for the X-men to get Astonishing. Joss Whedon started a book called Astonishing X-men as part of the X-men ReLoad revamp. This got the X-men back into costumes, had them interact with more Marvel characters, and be heroic looking again (well worth a read as it is 25 issues, 1—24 and a Giant Size).
That successful relaunch and Brian Bendis’ launch of New Avengers meant a crossover had to happen…House of M. The core 8-issue series starts off with asking what should be done with the Scarlet Witch who was responsible for the Avengers Disassembled story. Was she going crazy like her father, Magneto? Then her family helps her escape to a fantasy world, House of M, where the Mutants were the dominant species and Magneto was the unquestioned ruler. By the end of the limited series the Scarlet Witch was tired of being used by everyone and casted a spell, “No More Mutants.” With that the number of Mutants in the Marvel universe was down to less than 200.
Something had to change for the X-men line of books. They were too separated and it had seemed that there were back on the extinction list…so there was a birth. Hope (literally) had entered the lives of the X-men in the Messiah Complex which united the X-books and had Cyclops lead the X-men in order to prevent the Marauders, Acolytes, Reavers, Purifiers, and Predator X from getting the newly born Mutant. As a fan reading this as it came out, I was super excited as I was reliving the X-men from my younger years and it was a grand story of life, death, and extinction. Of course there were twists and turns, but the big reveal that Bishop would be a bad guy and want to kill a Mutant was intense, then of course there were connections to Jean and the Phoenix, so anything to do with the Summers family has me excited.
After the baby had been secured by the good guys, she was taken into the future by Cable; which was very much reminiscent of Cable’s origins as well. There she was raised to be a soldier and fight on no matter what was happening, and this world was not a better place. Meanwhile whenever they could get a moment it was of course broken by Bishop hunting them down. The Messiah War finally had some reinforcements come by way of the clandestine X-Force team, which was very proactive in their missions. They now had to help out and face off against a horrendous future, Stryfe, and Apocalypse. Stryfe is a clone of Cable and is a tragic villain in the X-men storylines, but it was great to see him return and now knowing how sinister he would be this made the stakes that much higher. For once Apocalypse would be helpful and did something beneficial for Cable and Hope.
Now the time had come for Hope to return, the Second Coming. This story arc was now at a fever pitch…Cyclops, X-Force, Utopia all of it coming to a head and some people weren’t liking the way the X-men were separating themselves and their actions; even some of the X-men too. Hope and Cable had returned and this time they had to face off a coalition of the worst Humankind had to offer: Bastion, Stephen Lang, Bolivar Trask, William Stryker, Graydon Creed, and Cameron Hodge. This was HUGE as these were some of the best and longest running Human villains in the X-men comics and now they were together. This was the “be all, end all” of X-men comics for me. This story took place all over America as we desperately watch Cable and Hope go from the Mansion in Westchester County, NY to Utopia near San Francisco, CA.
The moments between characters was what drew me to this story, Cyclops and his interactions between Nightcrawler and Beast were some of the biggest as we saw their friendship be tested. Faith was a theme constant to this story. I remember going into the comic shop every week to get the newest issue in the story and it was well worth it, Marvel had brought out their best. This is the trilogy that brought the X-men back and on track. You can of course read the trades/hard covers for Messiah Complex, Messiah War, and Second Coming, but I’ve put together a map for you that will give you that experience but also some extra. Get to your favorite reading spot and enjoy a tour de force of a group of heroes that fight to survive in a world that hates and fears them. (NOTE the comics in italics are suggested as they are more of a character profile book)
Messiah Complex Reading Order

1 X-men: Messiah Complex (2007)
X-men: Messiah Complex Mutant Files
2 Uncanny X-men (Vol 1) 492
3 X-Factor (Vol 3) 25
4 New X-men (Vol 1) 44
5 X-men (Vol 1) 205
6 Uncanny X-men (Vol 1) 493
7 X-Factor (Vol 3) 26
8 New X-men (Vol 1) 45
9 X-men (Vol 1) 206
10 Uncanny X-men (Vol 1) 494
11 X-Factor (Vol 3) 27
12 New X-men (Vol 1) 46
13 X-men (Vol 1) 207

Aftermath (suggested readings)
Uncanny X-men 495 to 500, featuring the move to San Francisco, the X-men reforming, and building Cyclops’ vison of mutant paradise.
Cable (Vol 2, 2008) 1 to 5, showing Cable with baby Hope on the run from a vengeance seeking Bishop.
X-Force (Vol 3) 1 to 6, this is the team that was tasked with finding Hope, now they will also be a proactive team to take down threats to the Mutant race, permanently.
X-men the Lives and Times of Lucas Bishop 1 to 3, gives the readers an insight as to why Bishop is not a believer of Hope like the other X-men are.
Cable (Vol 2, 2008) 11 to 12, Wasteland Blues finally shows Hope asking the questions: who am I and why do people want to hurt me?

Messiah War Reading Order

1 X-Force/Cable: Messiah War
X-men Future History Messiah War Sourcebook
2 Cable (Vol 2) 13
3 X-Force (Vol 3) 14
4 Cable (Vol 2) 14
5 X-Force (Vol 3) 15
6 Cable (Vol 2) 15
7 X-Force (Vol 3) 16

Second Coming Reading Order

1 X-men Hope
2 X-men Second Coming Prepare
3 X-men Second Coming 1
4 Uncanny X-men (Vol 1) 523
5 New Mutants (Vol 3) 12
6 X-men Legacy 235
7 X-Force (Vol 3) 26
8 Uncanny X-men (Vol 1) 524
9 New Mutants (Vol 3) 13
10 X-men Legacy 236
11 X-Force (Vol 3) 27
12 Uncanny X-men (Vol 1) 525
13 New Mutants (Vol 3) 14
14 X-men Legacy 237
15 X-Force (Vol 3) 28
16 X-men Second Coming 2
17 Uncanny X-men Heroic Age 1

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