Cable: A Series Retrospective

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Duane Swierczynski’s Cable series is exactly what it needed to be.  Coming out of Messiah Complex, the latest volume of Cable followed the title character and his efforts to protect the first mutant born since the M-day event during House of M.  It involves one of my favorite characters, time travel, dystopian futures, and chase scenes with interesting takes on all of them.

Each arc features the child, Hope Summers, at different points in her life from infancy to near-adulthood and gives us a different take on how Cable has had to adapt and find ways to protect her.  We see points where Hope is living a seemingly normal life with an adopted mother, where she begins to question why she and Cable are on the run, where she learns of the X-Men and the time in which she was born, which leads her to question Cable and his judgment and seek out answers on her own.  All along the way we get hints as to what Hope means to mutantkind and how she may be connected to the Phoenix force.

At a time where many comics go for long periods with little progression, the series makes great strides in establishing Hope’s character and aging her for her return to the present. My feeling is that Hope will be revealed as the previously unnamed Askani sister who comes back in time to rescue Cable as an infant from the hands of Apocalypse.  It would create an incredible symmetry that spans decades of X-Men history (decades in print of course, millennia in story).  Cable risking everything to rescue and raise the woman that would one day risk everything to rescue him would be a beautiful way to tie things together. We will soon learn whether she is a savior or a destroyer in the pages of X-Men: Second Coming.

Only two negatives come to mind looking back on the series.  The first is Bishop’s turn to the dark side, but that happened during Messiah Complex and what’s done is done.  Taking this new Bishop and using him as the Inspector Javert to Cable’s Jean val Jean was very well done. We even see a point where Bishop finds himself questioning whether he did the right thing at the end of his chase.

The other drawback to the series is the fact that you have to read the crossover with X-Force to get the whole story.   While Messiah War was great, it just keeps the title from being self-contained, which is a minor point given where the series begins and ends in X-Men continuity.

Artistically, this series jumped around quite a bit with arcs from Ariel Olivetti, Jamie McKelvie, and Gabriel Guzman among others.  These artists have fairly distinct styles and I would have preferred more consistency throughout the series.  Despite the changes, none of it was bad, but I wasn’t crazy about McKelvie’s art on this title. The standout issues for me were far and away King-Size Cable #1 by Ken Lashley and Paul Neary narrated entirely from Bishop’s point of view,  Paul Gulacy‘s “Too Late for Tears” arc (with great colors by Thomas Mason) where Cable and Hope are separated in the timestream, and Olivetti’s issues of Messiah War. Also noteworthy were Alejandro Garza’s, Denys Cowan’s and Humberto Ramos’ pages from the final “Homecoming” four-parter.

Cable is a character that often doesn’t get a fair shake from fans, given his firm roots in comics of the 1990’s and the presumption that he’s everything that was wrong about that era.  Oversized guns, grim grittiness, a glowing eye and a metal arm don’t help to dissuade all the negativity, but Cable has evolved into a complete character.  His convoluted backstory is another sticking point for some, but it firmly roots him in the X-Men universe.  Fabian Nicieza‘s recent Cable & Deadpool series, Mike Carey‘s handling of Cable in X-Men, and now Duane Swierczynski‘s contribution have renewed my love for the character.

I couldn’t be more excited for Second Coming and this title really helped to build my anticipation.  It really was a perfect run for a book, bridging Messiah Complex and Second Coming nicely.  I’d love to see more of this from Marvel, spotlighting characters with their own title for a specific purpose and then ending things when the time comes.  In a way, it reminded me of what John Byrne was doing with X-Men: the Hidden Years and trying to bridge the gap between X-Men #66 and #94.  Unfortunately, he wasn’t given the opportunity to finish his run.

The series ends with Cable #25 (renamed to Deadpool & Cable #25 for the final issue), due in stores April 7th. The story takes us back to the day of Hope’s birth and tells of how Cable rescued her from Predators, Purifiers, and Marauders sent to kill or capture her, with an assist from his former teammate. Cable and Hope’s return to the present continues in X-Men: Second Coming #1 on sale today.  Duane Swierczynski continues on with Deadpool in this Summer’s Wade Wilson’s War mini-series.  Collected editions of Cable are available now from Amazon.com and wherever comic books are sold. All images shown here can be found at ComicVine and Marvel.com.

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