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Feb 26

Cable & Deadpool: Split Second

Posted on Friday, February 26, 2016 by Paul in x-axis

So they made a Deadpool movie.  And it worked.  I mean, I haven’t seen it yet, but it’s done well enough.  Now, Marvel’s tie-in production for Fox movies can be a little half-hearted, but hell, any excuse to make a Deadpool comic, right?  So they had a bunch of reprints out, and, well, this.

It’s not the most obvious pitch for movie synergy.  Split Second is a Cable & Deadpool reunion, and much as I liked that book, it comes from the days when he and Cable were kind of just hanging in there, before Deadpool really took off as a hit.  But it was a good dynamic – Deadpool works well with a straight man.  And this series also reunites the book’s creative team, Fabian Nicieza and Reilly Brown.

Let’s pause here to note that Marvel really could do a better job of promoting the Infinite Comics.  As in, promoting the fact that they exist at all.  I mean, I’m probably a more than usually attentive fan, right?  I go to Comixology every Wednesday and check through the entire new releases section, to make sure I don’t miss anything.  But for reasons best known to themselves, Comixology don’t put “digital-first” books in the regular new releases section.  You have to look for them separately.  So I didn’t even know this series was coming out until issue #6 shipped.  And I only noticed then because I somebody mentioned it on Twitter.  I would have completely missed the book otherwise.

That’s not good.  Have Marvel maybe considered running actual cross-promotion pages at the back of their comics, in place of “here is a picture of next issue’s cover”?  Because seriously, guys, one would achieve something, and the other is a waste of pixels.  Who the hell is the target audience for a book that isn’t in the regular solicitations, can’t be found in the regular Comixology new release section, and isn’t promoted in Marvel’s own comics?  Psychics?

Still.  If you’re going to do a Deadpool Infinite Comic, then going with a Cable & Deadpool reunion is actually a smart decision.  In the years since, Reilly Brown has taken a lot of interest in the storytelling possibilities of this format, as shown by his own series Power Play.  And this book – especially the first half – makes some really good use of the format, with mock movie credit sequences and so forth.  There’s a rhythm to this format which is quite different from the printed page, and Brown has a strong sense of the possibilities.

And given Deadpool’s meta tendencies, there’s some obvious fun to be had in revisiting the days before he was famous.  Which is precisely what the book does in the early going, as Deadpool gleefully celebrates the inversion of their former relationship.  Cable’s popularity remains basically where it was at the time; Deadpool somehow became a breakout star with a hit movie.  Who’s the sidekick now?  What’s happened with Deadpool in the last few years is very unusual, come to think of it.  It’s not so uncommon for a languishing character to have a successful book, but the enthusiasm rarely translates to the next creative team.  Deadpool, for some reason, is different.  The character has built his own audience, distinct from any particular creative team, in a way that almost never happens these days.  No wonder Marvel like him so much.


So the story, then.  Nicieza has always had a tendency to overcomplicate a good idea, and when I tell you that this is a time travel story, well…

The starting set-up is easy enough.  Cable has a precognitive vision that Deadpool is going to assassinate a scientist who’s invented a primitive time machine, and goes to stop him.  Since Deadpool never had any intention of killing the guy in the first place, they wind up hanging around at the site of the murder trying to figure out what Cable saw.  (And Deadpool, being Deadpool, patiently explains to nitpicky readers that, yes, they could have just stayed away and guaranteed that the scientist would live, but then there wouldn’t be a story, would there?)  A time travelling villain called Split Second shows up attempting to assassinate the scientist, Cable and Deadpool try to stop him, and then there’s a rather lovely sequence where everyone keeps using time travel to repeat the scene until they get it to work the way they want – with some poor sod managing to get killed in increasingly random ways each time.  This is the sort of thing that the Infinite format can do very well.

Aaaaaaand then it kind of goes off the rails, because like a lot of time travel stories, it’s walking a thin line between “enjoyably paradoxical” and “this doesn’t make sense”, and it doesn’t really get it right.  The intended upshot of all this is to hit the reset button on Cable’s status quo and free him up for use in Uncanny Avengers – that’s not speculation, Deadpool tells us outright in issue #6.  You can see the idea here – dizzying self-parodic paradox which plays to Deadpool’s sense of absurdity, all building to something familiar getting restored at the end – but what actually happens in issues #4-5 really more incoherent than anything else.  There’s a second time-travelling Deadpool, there’s an appearance by the Time Variance Authority, there’s a weird idea that Deadpool is meant to kill Cables from alternate timelines (why?) and that his refusal to do so ends up healing the timeline anyway (why?).  If a story like this is going to work, there has to be at least some sort of frayed cause and effect in place, however Heath Robinson, and this just feels too random.


Still, Nicieza created Deadpool’s voice and knows how to script him entertainingly, and the pairing with him and Cable is always good fun (even if Cable himself is actually marginalised for a big chunk of this).  It’s got some very fun bits, but it loses its way somewhere in the middle.

Bring on the comments

  1. Reboot says:

    There’s a print version, so it is in the regular solicits (I think #2 of 3 is out now).

    But, yes, everything you said about the second half being downright incoherent? That. Precisely.

  2. Brendan says:

    That’s pretty much how the original C&D series went. A strong start, but as it progressed became increasingly convoluted and had lost its way by the end. Also had issues with Editorial nicking the co-lead rather than Marketing/etc hampering its release.

  3. Dasklein83 says:

    I read it in print and liked it. It made no sense, but it’s Deadpool not Watchmen. The romp through Cable’s past was fun, and I’m one of the like 100 people on Earth who remember Tetherblood, so that brought a smile.

  4. Niall says:

    I really wanted to like this a lot more but this was more of a “Deadpool (featuring guest star Cable”) book than Cable and Deadpool.

    I enjoyed it but felt I must be getting stupid in my old age because I couldn’t figure out why Cable had to be killed or why not killing him fixed everything.

  5. Rich Larson says:

    Agreed the original point in time with people getting randomly killed was very fun. And also agreed that why Cable needed killing or saving needed a better explanation. It was fun though.

    My big customer complaint though. They charged $5.99 for these books for three books. Expensive to start with. And in the middle of issue 1, they spend five pages re-capping the story I had just turned the page on. That;s a lot of pages to pay for which don’t advance the story.

  6. Suzene says:


    It’ll get worse before it gets better. Looks like Extraordinary X-Men is getting a temporary price hike to celebrate the start of the Apocalypse War crossover-not-really event too.

  7. Rich Larson says:

    Sigh. They really are working overtime to drive me away from this hobby. Thx for the info.

  8. Suzene says:

    I don’t think I’ll ever stop reading comics; there’s just too much good stuff out there. But Marvel and DC did break me of being a habitual reader of their products some time back. Now we’re inching toward 20 pages for $5 being the new normal over at Marvel and cross-over events every quarter, and it’s just ridiculous.

  9. Rich Larson says:

    I’m sure you’re right, that I won’t ever completely stop. I love Saga, my son is working his way through Hellboy and my daughter devours anything by Raina Telmeiger. There’s plenty of good graphic reading. But the hobby was the habit of buying every week and following the story of particular characters and through them finding other characters and stories in the broader shared universes. There are titles I still enjoy, but a very few that seem worth $5 for 20 pages.

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