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Mar 13

Cable #1 annotations

Posted on Friday, March 13, 2020 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

CABLE. This is the fourth volume of Cable. The first is the 1990s run which lasted 108 issues. The second is the 2008-9 run where Bishop chases him and Hope through time. The third is a miniseries from 2017. (There’s also an early 90s mini called Cable: Blood & Metal, and a Cable & Deadpool ongoing.)

Cable’s back story is notoriously convoluted, and recent events haven’t helped. In very broad outline, Cable is Nathan Summers, the son of Cyclops and his first wife Madelyne Pryor (a clone of Jean Grey). For various reasons, assorted A-list villains were very interested in getting their hands on him. In the end, baby Nathan was (a) infected with a techno-organic virus that transformed part of his body and gave him his cyborg appearance, and (b) sent into a far future timeline ruled by Apocalypse, where he was raised by two foster parents (who were themselves actually a time travelling Scott and Jean – I told you this was all insanely complicated).

From there, Cable’s history used to involve him leading rebel forces against Apocalypse, eventually returning the present as a time traveller, and founding X-Force. However, in the recent Extermination miniseries, a second, teenaged Cable shows up from the future, and kills the original. This teenage Cable is the one we’re now following. Flashbacks in the previous run of X-Force attempt to explain this further. The long-term presence of the Silver Age X-Men in the present day (in All-New X-Men and X-Men Blue) was causing damage to the timeline, which Older Cable ought to have done something about, but didn’t. Teen Cable killed him in order to take his place and sort out the timeline problems. Why that meant killing the older Cable, and why everyone else was ultimately okay with it, is still a bit vague (if not downright screwy).

Aside from some appearances in X-Men, Cable also appeared in the poorly-received Fallen Angels series, but we don’t talk about that.

COVER / PAGE 1. Cable and his supporting cast in a mock film poster. The strapline is a version of “Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick”, which is best known as Theodore Roosevelt’s description of his foreign policy. He claimed it was a South African proverb, but apparently this was news to everyone in South Africa.

PAGES 2-7. Cable and Wolverine fight in the Quarry.

The Quarry appears to be some sort of MMA fighting tournament, or maybe wrestling contest. There’s a ritualistic dimension to it as well, though, with the Samurai doing the “Hear me, mutants” stuff, and the data page later in the issue telling us that the “living record of single combat in the Quarry” is “the property of all mutants.”

The rules are a bit vague – Cable wins the match by pinfall, but apparently Wolverine’s allowed to use his claws and Cable’s allowed to carry a great big gun into action. So apparently shooting your opponent is allowed. Wolverine implies that killing the opponent is allowed, but he probably doesn’t mean that literally. Other stories have been very clear that casual use of the resurrection protocols is strongly discouraged (if only because the Five have got better things to do, like revive the many mutants who are still in the queue). Wolverine also claims that Cable’s use of his telekinesis was cheating, but nobody else seems to agree with him (and like I say, the gun is apparently allowed…)

Cable’s gun is slashed apart in panel 2, which seems like a meta way of distancing this Cable from the nineties original, who was notorious for his impractically enormous guns. The original character moved away from that focus over time, and Teen Cable uses his guns mainly as a distraction while he beats Wolverine more through guile. Naturally, a win over Wolverine – even when sparring – is something of an achievement.

The audience members are mostly randoms, though Strong Guy and Rockslide are recognisable. Also seen cheering on the fight are Callisto and Gorgon. Callisto is wearing the new white costume that she received in Marauders #7 upon joining the Hellfire Club. Gorgon is uncharacteristically cheerful, but then he’s watching a fighting tournament.

“I got a double date.” With Armor and Pixie, as seen later in the story – though it’s not entirely clear whether either of them see it that way. Armor is certainly keen on Cable, but Pixie’s less clear. That said, our attention has from time to time been drawn to an upswing in unconventional romantic relationships on Krakoa.

“Except for what Magik did…” Magik is the only person to have got herself disqualified in a Quarry match, as the following data page shows. Quite how she got disqualified is unclear, given that there don’t seem to be any clearly defined rules. Maybe she teleported a demon in to help her – or just teleported her opponent away.

The Silver Samurai. This man is wearing the costume of Keniuchio Harada, the original Silver Samurai. Harada was murdered by the Red Right Hand in Wolverine vol 4 #1 (and appeared in the afterlife a few issues later), so the obvious implication is that he’s been brought back from the dead. However, the original Samurai didn’t have the faceplate with the red glowing eyes and mouth – that’s new. It’s possible that there’s someone new in the costume, or that there’s some story behind the change.

Harada’s illegitimate son Shingen took his place as the second Silver Samurai starting in 2012. He looks different and doesn’t seem to be a mutant, so it’s highly unlikely to be him. He’s still out there, though, and would presumably be interested to know that the original is back.

PAGE 8. Data page, with the records of the 13 matches to date (the last being the match we just saw). Most of them read like friendly challenges.

  • Gorgon v Magik. A battle between two of the Captains, which Magik apparently lost in some spectacularly dishonourable way. Conspicuously, neither of them has fought again, despite there being several other repeats.
  • Nightcrawler v Blink was a draw, presumably in a teleport-off. It’s the first mention of Blink since the last run of Exiles was cancelled, and the first confirmation that she’s on the island.
  • Esme Cuckoo v Irma Cuckoo. The Stepford Cuckoos usually act as a group, so there’s obviously a story here. When they do act separately, Esme is often the villain – her attempts to return from the dead were the focus of a storyline in X-23. Irma is the one sometimes known as Mindee, but evidently we’re going with Irma for now. (The name clash arises because she’s the one Cuckoo that Grant Morrison didn’t get around to naming on panel, so Chuck Austen named her instead. Aside from “Mindee” being an unpopular name, Morrison’s intended joke was that the Cuckoos were Sophie, Phoebe, Irma, Celeste and Esme – the S.P.I.C.E. Girls.)
  • Rogue v Havok seems like typical Danger Room stuff.
  • Magma v Firestar is a battle of the fire powers. Firestar’s been seen on the island before, but hasn’t done anything yet.
  • M v Bishop is back to the Danger Room.
  • Wolfsbane v Pyro seems a bit random. But Gerry Duggan writes Pyro in Marauders so doubtless he has some thoughts about what Pyro, Bishop and Callisto – his characters, at the moment – are doing on this list.
  • Dazzler v Jubilee is another fight between similar powers.
  • Leech v Artie is a really odd one, and presumably a friendly challenge. These two kids were close friends back when they were trainees of X-Factor, and mainstays of the 1980s X-books. They’re currently in the cast of Future Foundation, a Fantastic Four spin-off book.
  • Callisto v Pyro seems like something that would come out of events in Marauders that we haven’t seen yet.
  • Callisto v Fish is even weirder. Fish is a Brazilian mutant child who was rescued in Marauders #4. Maybe Callisto is training him.
  • Callisto v Jumbo Carnation might be another training fight. Jumbo, the mutant fashion designer, is a non combatant, but Callisto did give him some knife-fighting tips in Marauders #7 – in a very offhand way.

PAGES 9-10. Credits and recap page. This is “Big Guns” by Gerry Duggan and Phil Noto. The small print reads “Guns & Swords – Swords Don’t Need Reloading.”

PAGE 11. Cable offers to help Curse to find the missing Fauna.

Armor has been appearing in New Mutants. She hasn’t had much previous involvement with Cable, but she did get recruited by the older Cable into a makeshift team in the “Newer Mutants” storyline from Cable #150-154. That’s presumably what she’s referring to later when she talks about being recruited into X-Force.

Pixie has been around since 2004, sometimes prominently, but mostly as a recognisable background character. Her hallucinogenic pixie dust has been downplayed for some time (in favour of a magical teleporting schtick) but comes back in real force in this issue.

Curse, named for the first time in this story, previously appeared in Marauders #1. She’s the kid who made fun of Kitty for being the only mutant that can’t use the gates. She had the same star necklace in that issue.

“The bad place” is the Arak Corral, which rose from the sea and joined on to Krakoa in X-Men #2. Cable was in that issue. It’s full of giant monsters, which are apparently happy to stay where they are and not bother the locals. Is something holding them at bay?

Fauna, Curse’s friend, is the kid who was arriving on Krakoa in House of X #1. He was credited in New Mutants #1 with making wonderful coffee (which was implied to be somehow a bit suspect). He seems to suggest in the next scene that he was drawn to the Arak Corral by the pain of the giant monster with a sword stuck in his foot.

PAGES 12-24. Cable, Armor and Pixie rescue Fauna from a giant monster, and Cable pulls a sword out of its foot.

“A couple of days back…” This doesn’t really work as a time frame for X-Men #2, which took place very shortly after Xavier’s assassination in X-Force #1. For one thing, the whole of Fallen Angels has to come after that. So we probably shouldn’t take this too literally.

The sword. Obviously, this is a riff on Androcles removing the thorn from the lion’s paw. In the original story, that was rewarded with the lion’s friendship, but the monster here just wanders off into the forest. We’re getting a lot of swords at the moment, which is building to X of Swords. This particular sword is in remarkably good condition given that, as we’ll see in the next scene, it’s been stuck in that paw for millennia.

PAGES 25-26. A flashback to the sword’s original owner, Morn, arriving on primordial Earth in pursuit of monsters, and getting killed by the giant monster.

Spaceknights. Morn describes himself as a Spaceknight, and the first of his kind. The Spaceknights are cyborg warriors from the planet Galador, and come from the 1980s series Rom. The established Spaceknight history has them being formed a couple of hundred years ago in order to fight the Dire Wraiths, with Rom himself as the first volunteer, but Morn seems to say that he’s the first of a batch of Spaceknights that goes back much further.

PAGES 27-29. Cable decides to keep the sword.

This ties in with the small print on the credit page.

PAGES 30-32. Three dormant Spaceknights wake and head for Earth.

These seem to be new characters.

PAGES 33-35. Coda – the original Cable fighting alien crabs.

All very mysterious. Given Cable’s time travel gimmick, he’s very easy to bring back from the dead – the version in Extermination might have been from a different timeline, or this might just be him at an earlier point in his life. Or maybe something else was happening, and this time it’ll make some sense…

PAGE 36. Data page – an entry from Cable’s journal. He seems to be trying to rescue hostages taken by demons and stolen to another planet. He “suspect[s] that the demons are attempting to replicate the old spell that caused Earth to nearly burn in an inferno of Hellfire.” That refers to the late-80s Inferno crossover, in which the demon hordes of Limbo invaded New York. Inferno has been mentioned once or twice in Hickman’s run already, but this is the most prominent.

PAGES 37-38. Trailers. The Krakoan reads NEXT: LIGHT OF GALADOR.

Bring on the comments

  1. Ben says:

    YLu- yeah I was thinking about the whole Wildcards set up as you guys were discussing this.

    ASV- you know, I hadn’t even thought of that. I feel dumb.

    Thom H.- that’s really interesting.

  2. YLu says:

    To me, the “your psyche shapes your powers” explanation feels too close to that “power of positive thinking” stuff some people in the real world actually follow, where they believe negative thoughts can cause you to get cancer and into accidents and positive thinking can do the reverse. I have no idea how popular this “philosophy” is outside the U.S. but plenty of people have pointed out its underlying toxicity, since it’s ultimately blaming innocent victims of circumstance for said circumstances.

    With mutants whose powers are a curse, I feel it’s pretty important that they are purely victims of bad luck. I don’t like the idea that it’s really because of their own self-image, even partly.

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