Actually, Cable? I think there is time for introductions. Welcome back to Mutantversity! In Mutantversity, I, your loyal X-Men tutor, will look at all the things happening in the mutant universe. This spring, Marvel relaunched everything with brand new teams and brand new titles. My goal is to streamline most of this for you and take a deeper look at the history and the future of the franchise with a focus on the comics. This month we’re looking at the time traveling, gun toting bad ass they call Cable. A mutant with a long and complicated history, Cable has become a mainstay for the X-Men franchise and last week, he returned to the pages of his own solo series. Let’s look at some of his history, his place within the X-Men and “Cable” #1
Cable, Nathan Christopher Summers, debuted in the pages of “New Mutants” in 1990. His first major fight is against Stryfe and Mutant Liberation Front. After this first major event in his debut, he eventually takes the “New Mutants” and reorganizes that into X-Force, a team name that would be used constantly to this very day. In these early years, it is revealed that he is the child of Cyclops and Jean Grey’s clone, Madelyne Pryor. Shortly after he was born, Jean Grey returned and Cyclops basically abandons Pryor and he to be with her. It is then revealed that Pryor was created by Mister Sinister (who has an unhealthy obsession with the Summers and Grey families) and that Cable was born to be someone that Sinister could control who had lineage in both those families. Later, young Cable is infected with a techno organic virus that threatens to kill him but he is taken by the Askani Clan to the future where they believe he will be some kind of liberator.
This is where things get very strange so I will break this down as easily as possible. Nathan, taken to the future, is cloned because it is believed that the virus will kill him. It doesn’t so Cable ends up being raised by the transferred souls of Cyclops and Jean Grey. They’re in different bodies thanks to something that Rachel Summers does. He learns to harness his telekinetic powers and keeps the techno organic virus in check because of this. The clone ends up growing up into Stryfe, one of the most known villains in the 90’s era of the X-Men.
A Strategist, A Mentor, A Friend
So who really is Cable? What makes him so important to the X-Men universe and why has he remained a part of it for so long? Cable is like your grumpy uncle who doesn’t want to be your friend but will absolutely help out for the greater good. He’s a hero even if he doesn’t necessarily come off like one. Cable is a highly trained, almost militaristic strategist who has become someone so special to the other characters. Despite his own complicated and troubled upbringing, he became a father to Hope Summers. The two of them sort of had this Lone Wolf & Cub thing going on and his unwilling friendship with the troublemaker Deadpool also helped humanize him. The world he comes from is full of violence and while Cable isn’t the guy who’s going to make jokes, he’s a beloved mentor and friend. He’s not the most likable guy in the world but a series like “Cable & Deadpool” and the events following “Messiah Complex” help make him that without actually taking anything away from who he is.
Like many characters before him, Cable was originally meant to act as a plot device. He was there to be the hero of this future and add further drama to the Jean Grey/Cyclops saga but instead, he became more. He’s a brilliant team leader, he’s a hell of a fighter and he gets to time travel. Imagine The Doctor but far more of a bad ass with bigger guns and a soft spot for mutants who need his help. Honestly, “X-Force” wouldn’t exist and be such a marketable aspect of the X-Men universe if it wasn’t for the earlier stories featuring Cable. Cable proves that you can craft mature, slightly more violent stories in this universe without being edgy for the sake of being edgy.Continued below
A New Mission
Because Cable is such a complicated character to mess with, giving him a new solo series is something that should be approached carefully. Will he lead another team? Will he somehow end up back in his future? What’s your hook that justifies this book’s existence? “Cable” #1 is the start of a fully solo adventure for Cable. At least, that’s how it looks since he’s the only recognizable character that shows up. In this issue, we barely get a full story. We see Cable hop around to a couple of different timelines, seemingly hunting someone but the catch is that people are ready for him. Someone is playing games with Cable and he’s not having that at all.
I don’t want to fully review this for its merits as a well put together comic book. You can read that review here. I think with “Cable” #1, we’ve got to look at it as an X-Men comic and what it serves for the lead. Cable has been a part of some huge storylines in his history so I think something like this, that’s more personal for him is a good approach. What doesn’t help this cause is that the issue is very, very quick and very light on details. It definitely needed a few more pages because I left this a little more lost than I would have liked to be. Like “Jean Grey,” I question the direction but for very different reasons. With “Cable” I expect action and I get plenty of that here but I can’t discern any bigger implications but at the same time, there doesn’t have to be. It’s an issue that left me with a big question mark as to what the vision here and that’s my biggest problem in talking about it. I don’t know what it is or what it wants to be as far as X-Men books go. It doesn’t have a vision or discernible personality as of yet because it doesn’t give Cable a whole lot to do as of yet besides punching things.
With “Cable,” there is potential for a lot more than what this first issue offers up. Putting Cable in a situation where he’s constantly shifting time could open the door for lots of guest appearances (Civil War era Wolverine, maybe Hope Summers in the future?) but ultimately it all has to go somewhere.
What are some of your favorite Cable stories? What do you want to see from the character going forward?