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Aug 26

Cable: Reloaded #1 annotations

Posted on Thursday, August 26, 2021 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition – with a caveat that we’ll get to at page 22.

“Call in the Big Gun”
by Al Ewing, Bob Quinn & Java Tartaglia

This is a one-shot published as part of the Last Annihilation crossover. It could arguably count as Cable #13 or S.W.O.R.D. #7.5, and certainly contains plot points that are relevant for S.W.O.R.D. readers.

COVER / PAGE 1. Cable posing. Note that he’s carrying both the signature big gun and the Light of Galador sword that Kid Cable was carrying around throughout his recent solo run. Cable kept it behind in Cable #12 when his younger self returned to the future.

PAGE 2. Cable sets the scene.

Graymalkin II, the second version of Cable’s space station, was first seen in Cable vol 4 #11.

The Breakworld was an alien planet introduced in the 2004 Astonishing X-Men run by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday. It’s one of those alien planets locked in constant war.

PAGE 3. Cable prepares to dive.

Belle, the AI which appears as a “tattoo” on Cable’s arm, was introduced in Uncanny Avengers and showed up again in the last couple of issues of Cable.

Cable’s outrageously big boots are explained later on as technology, but they sure seem like an intentional nod to the art style of Cable’s creator Rob Liefeld – as is the joke about what he keeps in his many, many pouches.

PAGE 4. Recap and credits. This being a one-shot, the recap focusses on what happened in the earlier chapters of Last Annihilation, which appeared in Guardians of the Galaxy #16-17 and S.W.O.R.D. #7. Again, the title is a nod to Cable’s traditional Liefeld design.

PAGE 5. Cable enters the atmosphere.

“The ultimate HALO drop.” That’s a real term, standing for “high altitude, low opening.” “High altitude, hard acceleration” is not a real term, because you’d be insane.

“This’ll be my second demonic invasion this month.” Presumably referencing his fight with Stryfe in a demonic realm in Cable #11-12 (and previous flash-foward scenes).

PAGE 6. Flashback: Cable is briefed by Abigail Brand.

“My first official briefing as S.W.O.R.D. security chief since I came back.” Kid Cable was S.W.O.R.D.’s security chief in their early chapters, but never really did a great deal. Now we know why he was there: to set up his replacement by Cable Classic. Cable figures that his younger self was only appointed to the role as a political gesture, and he’s probably right. The teenage Cable was largely written during the Krakoan era as hopelessly naive and inexperienced, though admittedly that was more in his own book than S.W.O.R.D.. Still, it’s hard to imagine that he’d have been Brand’s first choice for the role if she’d been working purely on skill level.

“The Dread Dormammu…” Abigail’s explanation of Dormammu’s plan is based on what the Guardians of the Galaxy and Dr Doom worked out in Guardians of the Galaxy #17. Basically, he’s powering himself up by conquering five planets that represent mystically-significant elements, and that can be arranged into a mystic sigil. The details don’t matter for the purposes of this book. The video screen in panel 1 shows Dormammu himself; panel 2 shows his regular henchmen, the self-explanatory Mindless Ones.

PAGE 7. Flashback: Rocket briefs Cable.

I’m pretty sure that the idea of Rocket as a legendary figure in the future is new. I don’t know if this is the first time that Cable and Rocket have met on panel, but it might well be, since Rocket was a pretty marginal figure in the Marvel Universe through most of Cable’s heyday.

PAGE 8. Cable crash lands.

PAGE 9. Data page: Cable’s personal diary.

The five alien races he mentions here reflect the five planets being attacked by Dormammu: worlds belonging to the Skrulls, the Kree, the Shi’ar, Spartax and the Chitauri.

But for wider purposes, the main point of interest here is Cable’s discussion of resurrection. In part, he’s just making the point that the mutants haven’t conquered death when there are so many lives out there that have no access to resurrection. But – writing with the benefit of someone who knows how Krakoa turned out, as explained in Cable #12 – he also talks about mutants having achieved only an “armistice” with death, and talks about “Death com[ing] for us all, in a single moment”.

Cable also refers to “Death” as a proper noun, which suggests he’s referring to Death the abstract cosmic entity, rather than just death the natural phenomenon. The only book so far to really engage with how death gods feel about Krakoa is X-Factor with its Morrigan arc, which wound up being cut short.

“Shi’ar superguardians.” What we call the Imperial Guard post-Morrison.

PAGES 10-11. Cable makes his portal.

The idea that Cable’s arm is a complete prosthetic as opposed to just a part of his body infected with techno-organics isn’t new. It was removable in the recent Cable series, but it was also removable as far back as the “X-Tinction Agenda” crossover in the late 80s.

Nicky is new.

PAGE 12. Cable’s team arrive.

Cannonball was a member of the original New Mutants and X-Force line-ups, and Cable mentored him in those roles. He’s a “family man” now because he’s semi-retired and living in the Shi’ar Empire with Smasher of the Imperial Guard and their son Joshua. “Nigh invulnerable when blasting” was his catchphrase back in the 80s.

Boom-Boom was also a member of the original X-Force (and late period New Mutants), when Cable was in charge.

Wiz Kid is a member of S.W.O.R.D. The team name X-Terminators, which he suggests, is a call back to the 1988 X-Terminators miniseries, a tie-in to Inferno. Wiz Kid was a member of the original X-Terminators, but the team mostly consisted of trainees of the original X-Factor. He didn’t stick around, and the rest of the team merged with the New Mutants not long after. When Cable talks about how he saw Wiz Kid “when I was young”, he presumably means as Kid Cable in the early issues of S.W.O.R.D..

Khora of the Burning Heart first appeared in S.W.O.R.D. #3 (in shadow), and made her first full appearance in S.W.O.R.D. #5, where she replaced the hated Fabian Cortez on the team. She’s from Arakko, hence being “at war for her entire life” and her persistent lamentations of the softness of her teammates.

Lila Cheney is a second-tier member of S.W.O.R.D. who serves as part of their teleport team. Originally a supporting character from 1980s New Mutants, where she was Cannonball’s girlfriend, she is indeed an intergalactic rock star.

PAGES 13-16. The X-Terminators fight the Breakworld soldiers.

“I guess they got tired of waiting for Colossus to come back.” Colossus was the subject of a Breakworld prophecy, and he technically seized power in Giant-Size Astonishing X-Men #1. Powerlord Varrn is new, but the title “Powerlord” comes from the original Breakworld arc. If “Powerlord” seems a less than subtle title, bear in mind that the previous one also had a fleet of “Bruteships”. So the name “Powerlord” was the least of his problems, really.

PAGE 17. Data page. It’s a proclamation by Powerlord Varrn, whose PR strategy is robust and direct.

We establish in the next scene that “City Seven” is an uninhabited facility to build a robot weapon, so this notice is presumably intended to warn the locals away from the place.

PAGES 18-21. The X-Terminators approach the City Seven factory.

We get a bit of discussion in here of time travel. As in the recent Cable series, the model here is that the future can change, and so details of history are not necessarily fixed.

At the time of writing, the digital edition on Comixology has an obvious error on pages 22-23, which show individual panels from the double-page spread that appears again as page 24. I assume it’s an error when programming the guided view option. At any rate, I assume those two pages will be deleted in an update, so I’ll just ignore them for page count purposes.

PAGES 22-27. The X-Terminators fight the robot.

Cable and Wiz Kid both seem unusually cagey about relying on resurrection. Cable is willing to use resurrection if he needs to, but would prefer to avoid it. These are unusual views on Krakoa, where we’ve seen in Way of X that people are mostly becoming alarmingly casual about the whole idea.

Khora and, to a lesser extent, Cable both seem pretty at home in this war zone – though Cable makes many more concessions to standard  heroic behaviour. Khora’s arc, clearly, is going to involve her learning to co-operate with her new teammates instinctively, rather than having to be actually told to work together. She’s perfectly willing to follow orders, she just doesn’t have the right value system to understand what’s wanted of her. In her favour, she seems to recognise that. Wiz Kid sees her behaviour – which is perfectly normal Arakkan warrior schtick – as immature. One wonders what he makes of the whole planet of them on Mars.

PAGES 28-31. The X-Terminators steal the giant gun.

“I am steal big things as easily as little ones.” Lila used to do a bit of thievery in her early appearances, though it’s kind of been forgotten about over the years.

“We have the ammunition.” This seems to be literally a giant bullet. It’s a callback to the original Breakworld arc, in which the plan was to destroy Earth by simply firing an enormous bullet at the planet. (Kitty phased it through harmlessly.)

PAGE 32. Trailers (for the crossover). The Krakoan reads NEXT: WICCAN AND HULKLING.

Bring on the comments

  1. Si says:

    Cable’s arm was of course prosthetic originally, and was retconned into being techno-organic. He was seen repairing it in his first or second appearance. I think it’s bounced back and forth since then depending on who wrote it.

    I can’t remember the specifics, but there’s a good chance Cable first met Wiz Kid during the original Inferno story, when Cable was an infant. That’s the kind of callback Al Ewing likes to do, after all.

  2. Douglas says:

    Wiz Kid’s final line of dialogue here is… a “Die Hard” joke! Cf.

  3. Scott B says:

    I’m not a fan of Bob Quinn’s art in this issue, especially that the details of Cable’s costume change panel to panel.

  4. Luis Dantas says:

    They apparently did, albeit perhaps only once and briefly, in New Mutants Annual #7. Cable was with the New Mutants when they visited Wiz Kid in the hospital he found himself after being stomped.

    On the other hand, he also met baby Cable as early as in his own third appearance (X-Terminators #3), although I don’t think Cable quite remembers that and Wiz Kid himself may not be aware of the connection.

  5. Ben Johnston says:

    I enjoyed this quite a bit (no surprise since I like SWORD). Parts of it read like a backdoor pilot for a new X-Terminators series.

  6. SanityOrMadness says:

    The problem with the initial scene is… why the hell does Cable even need to do his ridiculous HALO jump? Surely Lila could just teleport them in, or they could even fire a small package with gate seeds down (since they grow so ludicrously easily & quickly anyway). The story makes its own problem by bringing these elements in.

    Paul> Wiz Kid is a member of S.W.O.R.D. The team name X-Terminators, which he suggests, is a call back to the 1988 X-Terminators miniseries, a tie-in to Inferno. Wiz Kid was a member of the original X-Terminators, but the team mostly consisted of trainees of the original X-Factor.

    Well, technically the “original X-Terminators” were the original X-Factor, who used the X-Terminators name when they were in costume and the X-Factor name was associated with the mutant hunting shtick.

  7. SanityOrMadness says:

    Important point – Zdarksy is *not* donating “all his Substack money”. He’s donating all of *his share of the first year subscription money* which – given that he got a big advance in lieu of Substack getting something like 90% of the first year sub money – is a much smaller amount.

  8. SanityOrMadness says:

    Whoops – wrong tab, that was meant to be in the HtA193 thread, if someone wants to delete that (and this)…

  9. SanityOrMadness says:

    Si> Cable’s arm was of course prosthetic originally, and was retconned into being techno-organic. He was seen repairing it in his first or second appearance. I think it’s bounced back and forth since then depending on who wrote it.

    I think it was pretty consistently “part of his body, only infected with T-O” from the reveal/retcon until he (temporarily) purged it in Cable/Soldier X and his arm got increasingly human.

    It then came back for Cable & Deadpool, then Silver Surfer ripped it off and it got replaced with “non-invasive” T-O material from a baby Phalanx. This got largely ignored by Mike Carey & subsequent writers, who reset it to his standard status, until he “died” from it in Second Coming. When he came back in X-Sanction, Hope purged it completely, which made it human, but afterward his formerly-T-O parts withered. He got prosthetics to help with that, then it was cut off in Spurrier’s X-Force and replaced with a prosthetic, but I think it was regrown in the end?

    Then Nicieza did an incomprehensible reset-button thing on him in Deadpool & Cable: Split Second, because Duggan was going to present him as having a metal arm in Duggan’s Uncanny Avengers. Since then, Duggan (and now Ewing) have consistently presented it as a robot arm, but other writers have gone back & forth.

  10. ASV says:

    This somehow manages to be even sillier than the series of Wanda and Pietro parentage retcons.

  11. CitizenBane says:

    In Cable #11, the Five said they were resurrecting Old Cable with his T-O infection because he was “studying the virus for mutations”. It’s up there with the nonsense about Karma deciding to come back minus a leg, but official Cable’s arm’s current status should be that it’s infected with the T-O virus.

  12. Si says:

    Thanks SanityOrMadness, I always enjoy these frankly mad dives into the peculiarities of serial fiction under multiple writers. How does that fit in with the series where Bishop was chasing Cable and Hope through time? Cable had a whole room full of spare arms at the start of that, didn’t he?

  13. YLu says:

    Surely the simplest interpretation is that a techno-organic arm essentially is a cyborg arm, no? And that like a regular cyborg arm it can be modified, removed, replaced, etc.

  14. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    The TO virus has always been deeply silly.

    It’s like shooting someone with a bullet that gives them cancer.

  15. Si says:

    The thing about the techno-organic virus is that it’s essentially a collective version of Grey Goo, self-replicating nanobots that turn everything they touch into copies of themselves. Claremont and Sienkiewicz invented the Grey Goo scenario two years before Drexler officially invented it. Cable’s version of the virus doesn’t infect anyone but him, but I assume the whole point of infecting him in the first place was the cruelty of it. So yes, a bullet that gives cancer is perfect if you don’t want the person to just die, you want them to suffer for a long time and there’s nothing that can be done to stop it.

  16. Chris V says:

    I’m sure Warren Ellis had a bullet that caused cancer in at least one of his comics.

    I believe the purpose of Apocalypse infecting Nathan with the virus was that he would have to always use a percentage of his power in order to keep himself alive, so he could never develop his powers to their fullest and become a true threat to Apocalypse.

  17. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    Has Apocalypse ever been interested in intentional cruelty?

    Why would he want his destined murderer to live on in any way, shape, or form?

    Imagine if Skynet shot John Connor in the knee and was like “beep boop good enough.”

  18. Chris V says:

    That’s true.
    It does make more sense to crush the baby’s skull.
    Super-villain logic, eh?

    I like the idea that Apocalypse is a hypocrite though.
    That he claims he is a believer in survival of the fittest and that he is the strongest being on the planet.
    Yet, he fears that a baby will grow up to be more fit for survival than him, so he infects with a techno-organic virus that will stunt the baby’s powers, and not allow him to grow up as the strongest.
    So, Apocalypse cheats.

  19. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    That’s a perfectly fine explanation for one of those retcons that make you wonder “what exactly did we gain from that?”

  20. Si says:

    Apocalypse has always been a hypocrite, so that works well. The first thing he did in comics was to give Angel new powers to make him stronger. Shouldn’t he find someone who’s already strong? That’s half the fun of the guy, he’s a big fat liar and he’s (sometimes) written as such.

    And now with the Hickman retcons, there’s actually good reason. He’s been fixated for 4000 years or whatever on his wife telling him he wasn’t strong enough to go on a mission.

  21. neutrino says:


    Lila Cheny’s teleportation only works across interstellar distances and only in places that she’s locked into.

  22. Evilgus says:

    Has Hellion (the academy X character) been resurrected with his chopped off hands? I always thought the floating hands were a good visual to distinguish him from other TK characters. Otherwise a very bland design.

  23. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    I do believe he has his hands back.

    One of the many problems with death and dismemberment being totally irrelevant in a story.

  24. Luis Dantas says:

    Very early on Cable was revealed to be silver colored on his face under the superficial layer of skin.

    The clear implication was that his face, and perhaps his full body, is actually mechanical.

    I don’t think that has ever been addressed or even acknowledged again. I could be wrong.

  25. SanityOrMadness says:

    @Luis: The usual status of the T-O was that his body was riddled with it, it’s just that his arm was *completely* transmoded (along with a few other parts, like his right – NON-flashy – eye). Sometimes, it flared up elsewhere, like during Onslaught, but he held it largely (but not completely) in remission in those areas with his TK. I suppose you can just assume, if it wasn’t explicitly stated, that his skull was one of the transmoded bits.

    Evilgus> Has Hellion (the academy X character) been resurrected with his chopped off hands? I always thought the floating hands were a good visual to distinguish him from other TK characters. Otherwise a very bland design.

    He was shown with organic hands in a Way of X cameo, but things shown in cameos don’t always stick, if they’re even meant to be like that at all and the artist hasn’t messed up (see: the King in Black Classic Cable cameo that confused Paul in the recent podcast).

  26. Omar Karindu says:

    The dueling Techno-Organic Virus vs. Prosthetic retcons will no doubt be resolved in the upcoming miniseries event, Arma VirumCable Cano.

  27. Mike Loughlin says:

    Hats off to Al Ewing for making a comic book consisting of elements I couldn’t care less about (Cable, Breakworld, a crossover I’m not reading) so entertaining.

  28. Si says:

    Yeah Ewing is a guaranteed good read every time. I have to admit I’ve gone a bit cold on his Immortal Hulk though.

  29. Chris V says:

    Really? I find Immortal Hili the best book Marvel is publishing.
    There is only one more issue.

  30. Jerry Ray says:

    Yeah, Immortal Hulk is still good but it’s a good time to wrap it up. Not sure even Ewing can get me to read a Venom book, though.

  31. Chris V says:

    That’s how I feel too.
    I read anything Ewing is writing at Marvel.
    After Hickman leaves the X-titles, Ewing’s work is the only thing that’ll still have my interest (well, it depends on if Spurrier is going to be writing anything else at Marvel).
    I don’t think I can ever get excited for a Venom book though.

    Plus, Ewing is co-writing the title with Ram V.
    I’m wondering if Ewing isn’t going to leave the book early and Ram V will be the sole writer anyway.

  32. Mike Loughlin says:

    The free comic book day issue didn’t get me excited about Venom, even though I really like Ewing’s writing and most Ram V comics I’ve read. Bryan Hitch’s art was fine, but I have no interest in Cosmic Venom.

    Defenders 1 was great, in case people haven’t checked it out.

  33. Chris V says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I loved Defenders #1. Exactly what I was looking for in a Defenders book.
    I think it’s only a mini-series though, which is sad.

  34. Dave says:

    The T-O virus was going to kill baby Nathan. He went with Askani to save his life.

  35. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    What an elaborate way to murder a baby.

    Just use an inch of bath water.

  36. SanityOrMadness says:

    Dave> The T-O virus was going to kill baby Nathan. He went with Askani to save his life.

    And, funnily enough, both they and it completely failed – the Askani were utterly useless at finding anything that worked on it, and it turned out it didn’t matter that much because baby Cable’s own powers ultimately held it back from killing him.

  37. Donnacha says:

    If X-Terminators is going to be a thing, I want to see Taki ask Tabitha where Rusty is and her to realise that’s she’s been so drunk she hasn’t noticed he hasn’t been resurrected (which makes zero sense).

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