Issue(s): X-Force #25
X-Force return to Camp Verde and Feral detects the scents of several people, one of whom is still at the base. The group split up and find that their base has been booby trapped by a mysterious attacker (note the comment about Feral's accent).
The attacker is of course Cable, although note Feral saying that his scent is different.
Cannonball treats Cable with some distrust, and Cable comes clean about a few things (see References) and gives a concise summary of his history in order to gain X-Force's trust.
X-Force then detects an intruder at their base, and it turns out to be the guy that we saw in Fatal Attractions part one, who is now identified as Exodus.
He's here to bring Cannonball and Sunspot - only - to visit his "overlord". The idea that we're keeping Magneto's return a secret is a little silly as the clues haven't exactly been subtle. Exodus refers to himself as "the harbinger of the magnetic storm" here. As to his powers, it's a little hard to say. Generic energy powers of some kind.
Exodus says that Cannonball and Sunspot are wanted because they are the "sole remaining active participants from Xavier's second generation". When Cannonball asks about Karma and Wolfsbane, Exodus says "The former has spurned heaven, the latter has not been officially approached". So, ok, they're not the "sole" active participants, are they? I suppose i shouldn't quibble over "second generation", although we've sometimes seen the New Mutants presented as the third generation, with the Giant-Size #1 X-Men as the second (and that's not even counting Deadly Genesis).
Cannonball tells Exodus that he'll only go if all the former New Mutants can go as well, including the latecomers Boom Boom, Rictor, Rusty, and Skids (the latter two have been held in stasis since they're still brainwashed). Exodus reluctantly agrees, and teleports them all away in a whirlwind. Shatterstar feels betrayed by Cannonball excluding the rest of X-Force, but it turns out that Cannonball planted a comm-link tracer on Cable before he left, so Cable, Siryn, Warpath, and Shatterstar are able to follow.
Exodus brings the former New Mutants to what he calls Avalon, but which they recognize as a rebuilt Graymalkin. Exodus says that Graymalkin's AI, Professor, has been reprogrammed. They then meet the leader of Avalon, with his identity still being kept a mystery. He's able to cure Rusty and Skids by "rerouting the circulatory flow... from the biologically affected portions of their brains".
Cable's squad approaches in X-Force's stolen SHIELD IPAC, and Cable sends a pulse that overrides Avalon's cloaking screens. That action alerts the "overlord" to their presence, and Cannonball fesses up to leading them here. The overlord is actually impressed with that, and Cannonball, who recognizes the overlord, tells him that he owes quite a bit of his preparedness to him.
Cable's squad fights their way through Avalon's defenses and Exodus. Cable tells Cannonball that he's going to blow the place up - if he can't have Graymalkin no one will. Cannonball disagrees, saying that the place will be a sanctuary for mutants, and indeed Rusty and Skids have decided to stay there.
But Cable overrides the computer on Graymalkin to bodyslide all of X-Force (sans Rusty and Skids, although that isn't really clear until later) back to the IPAC. He then heads to Graymalkin's central core and locates Professor, who is still itself after all.
Despite the use of the name "Magnus" it hasn't quite yet been revealed that we're dealing with Magneto. We finally "learn" that now.
In the resulting fight, we get a kind of preview of Magneto's battle with Wolverine later in the crossover. We also get the name of the event spoken aloud, which earns you a Bingo square.
But Cable is able to bodyslide away with Professor.
Magneto considers this a loss, because he's now not able to forge the minds of the next generation of mutants.
There is a lot of potential in contrasting the ideologies of Professor X, Magneto, and Cable, and Cannonball especially provides a great opportunity to do things with that, since he was a New Mutant under both Xavier and Magneto and (unlike Sunspot) has been with Cable from the beginning. Fabian Nicieza does some nice things with that here. But i wish it could have been done in a calmer way. Magneto is depicted as so creepy and obviously insane in this issue (and the entire crossover) that there's no room for the ambiguity or subtlety that is necessary to make the contrasts meaningful. Magneto is a bad guy. Along those same lines, Exodus is so weirdly ceremonial, similar to how the Acolytes are so worshipful. So the idea of a contrast between ideologies is very muddled. In a story where Magneto's sanctuary on Avalon was populated by truly oppressed mutants, Rusty and Skids staying with Magneto, for example, is potentially interesting. But having them go from being brainwashed fanatical followers of Stryfe to joining the fanatical Acolytes isn't an improvement (and nothing will really be done with them in any event).
The gears and seams of the crossover structure also become too apparent with that end scene, where Magneto gives up on recruiting Sam (et al.) way too easily and says that it's time for him to turn his attention to Xavier's brood. In other words, the X-Force portion of the crossover is over and it's time to move on to a mostly unrelated story about the X-Men. At least this story feels a lot more relevant than the X-Factor portion. But it's hard to not be cynical and say that the only thing making this a crossover is the cover dress (it will become more of a crossover as we go forward).
The hologram on the cover of this issue is actually pretty cool (not that you can tell from the link). I wouldn't pay money for it (although i did), but i think it looks pretty good.
One point that i guess is a tangent but which i think is actually pretty important. You'll note the number of References below. However, there isn't a single footnote in this issue. It's often said that one of the failings of the X-books is that they were so mired in continuity that they were impenetrable to new readers. As a fan of continuity, i always take automatic exception to that. But it's true that there is a lot of stuff being referenced here that people that haven't following the books religiously might not understand. As i usually do i would argue that it's easy enough to pick up on what's important and disregard the rest. But that's easy enough to say when i already know all the references; i've definitely been on the other side of it where a confusing story is made more confusing by references to books i haven't read. But one tool that editors and writers had at their disposal was footnotes, and they are being used less and less. I've said all this before, but footnotes serve multiple purposes. First, they of course point readers to the issues where they can learn more about what's being referenced. But they also provide a context. Little things like "ok, that happened recently" or "ok, that happened in some other book" go a long way to helping determine what's important, what can be glossed over, etc.. On top of that, footnotes are also an opportunity to provide a little exposition, or even a little reassurance (how many Stan Lee scripted books had lines with variations of "Confused, true believer? Don't worry! Stick with it and we'll tell you all you need to know!"). This was a heavily promoted crossover, which means that the goal was to bring in new readers. You'd think that at least for books like this, they'd make the extra effort to bring people up to speed. (And then you look at the seven inkers and remember that they could barely get the books out at all, so, like, never mind.)
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: See the Considerations for last issue and Cable #4 regarding the large gap i've placed between those issues and this one. The good news is that there's no specific mention of how much time has passed since last issue, and Cable has had enough time to set up a number of traps in their base and improve blueprints for upgrading the base that Cannonball was working on. This is part two of Fatal Attractions. Part three is in Uncanny X-Men #304, but doesn't continue directly.
An opening sequence showing Magneto reviewing computer files includes Adam X among the faces.
But this doesn't mean that it takes place before X-Force annual #2, Adam X's debut. Cable and X-Force are already united in that annual, so that has to take place after this issue. Not sure who is to the left of Adam X. Is that a nose chain?
Since Cable disables the cloaking device on Avalon, it can now be detected by Earth's governments.
Cable doesn't recover from the injuries sustained this issue until next issue, which takes place several days later. No regular Cable appearances should take place in between.
Crossover: Fatal Attractions
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (5): showBoom Boom, Cable (Adult), Cannonball, Exodus, Feral, Magneto, Professor (Prosh), Rictor, Rusty Collins, Shatterstar, Siryn, Skids, Sunspot, Warpath
"Not sure who is to the left of Adam X"
I think she is Threonody
Posted by: Midnighter | November 17, 2016 4:05 PM
It could be Cecilia Reyes.
Posted by: clyde | November 17, 2016 4:18 PM
Yeah, Threnody: she's also a FabNic character (like Adam X), and she's already appeared in Stryfe's Strike File, where she and Holocaust were new characters who had yet to appear in the regular comics.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | November 17, 2016 5:46 PM
Is there a scene this issue where Warpath confronts Exodus and refers to him as if Exodus is Native American as well? I've always wondered if some other origin for Exodus was intended before we got his Crusader origin in 1996. In any event, Warpath's observation winds up being as irrelevant as Ahab's supposed resemblance to Cable.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | November 17, 2016 6:03 PM
Argh. I hate these "generic energy powers"... they became so ubiquotous in the 90s...
Posted by: Piotr W | November 17, 2016 6:09 PM
@Walter, yeah, Warpath says, "Shame to be knocking your head off, since you look Indian to me".
The other thing we learn about Exodus aside from his arch highspeak is that he doesn't know what musak is (after a quip from Boom Boom).
Posted by: fnord12 | November 17, 2016 6:22 PM
It's almost amusing how this issue spends so much time trying to disguise the true identity of the "overlord." To anyone who had been reading the X-books for the past six months with their numerous hints that the character was returning, as well as anyone who had seen the various promotions for the "Fatal Attractions" crossover, it was blatantly obvious that it was Magneto.
This feels like the comic book equivalent of the various Doctor Who television serials from the 1970s and 80s that would have "Daleks" in the story titles, but which would then spend the first episode stubbornly refusing to offer even a hint of the Doctor's arch-enemies, just so they could burst in for a "surprise" arrival at the cliffhanger ending.
Posted by: Ben Herman | November 17, 2016 9:45 PM
"This issue is double-sized, which might justify two, maybe even three, inkers, but there are seven."- it was also 6 weeks late.
Posted by: Michael | November 17, 2016 9:58 PM
I really like Exodus's visual design. He pulls off the angelic herald look better than someone like Air-Walker.
Posted by: Mortificator | November 18, 2016 3:13 AM
@Michael, i've added a reference and a scan for Professor, but the line still seems ambiguous enough that they weren't committing to it yet.
(I've noticed the narration also confirms that we should think of Professor as a "he". I've hesitated since for some reason i've always thought of Ship as a "she".)
Posted by: fnord12 | November 18, 2016 8:28 AM
Piotr, it's not as bad as "generic mental powers" which are also in vogue around this time (and yes, Exodus DOES have those too.)
Also, just to point out that Rictor and Sunspot are even more angry and distrustful with Cable. Which also results in Cable confirming for them (and us) what their problems were REALLY about and how he wasn't responsible for them. (Not that this stopped Rictor from being resentful toward Cable though)
I continue to be impressed by what they are doing with Cannonball here. If only they didn't have him regress during his upcoming X-Men tenure...
Posted by: Jon Dubya | November 18, 2016 7:09 PM
@John Dubya: yeah, the 90s really like the "generic mental powers", too. Both them and "energy manipulating powers" were a common power set used by lazy writers...
@Mortificator - you know, I actually quite dislike Exodus' look. It's just so... implausible, I can't imagine anyone choosing to dress like that out of sudden. Of course, almost all superhero costumes are implausible - nevertheless, Exodus' costume has always struck me as a particularly strong example...
Posted by: Piotr W | November 19, 2016 3:57 PM
Actually the worse of the lot, Piotr, is "generic reality warping powers" (aka the "whatever-power-the-plot-demands" power.)
Posted by: Jon Dubya | January 13, 2017 12:02 PM
Just curious, did Magneto and Cable make any references to all the times they'd battled before, or was Magneto the first person in the Marvel Universe who'd never met Cable until now?
Posted by: ChrisW | May 28, 2017 9:52 PM
No, this was treated as a first meeting.
Posted by: Michael | May 28, 2017 10:31 PM
Comments are now closed.
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