Issue(s): Cable #1, Cable #2
Art is by John Romita Jr.. It's worth pausing to look at JRJR's evolution. He started off with an acclaimed run on Iron Man that is notable for being a definitive example of Marvel's 1980s house style. He moved on to Spider-Man, where he continued that basic look but maybe made Peter Parker too muscular and people's heads started getting a bit angular. That continued into his X-Men run, where he definitely became more abstract, and his run on Daredevil was a surreal compliment to Ann Nocenti's writing. Around this time JRJR was just finishing up a run on Punisher War Zone, where all the characters were about four feet wide. I've enjoyed his art on all of these runs, and i enjoy his work on these two issues too. It's just worth considering how JRJR got here. In a sense, his non-realistic exaggerated characters fit the style established for Cable by Rob Liefeld, but when i see something weird here i'm more forgiving about it than i would be for Liefeld, knowing that JRJR could draw realistically if he wanted to. It's also the case that JRJR is consistent in his abstractness here, in contrast to the sloppiness of Liefeld's books.
The story cuts back and forth between the past and the present, but i'm going to cover the flashbacks first and then cover the present day plot.
We'll begin in Iran, during the hostage crisis. The Wild Pack are there and making sure that they are seen, because they want people to think that they are there to free the hostages, but that's actually a diversion.
They are really doing their first job for a Tolliver, who is described as "some European businessman". The job involved blowing up a building for reasons only described as "cheesy corporate payback", and it goes off without a hitch.
Later, Tolliver hires them for another mission. Before they start, they meet with one of Tolliver's assistants (they never see Tolliver himself), and they're informed that they have to change their name from Wild Pack due to legal action from Silver Sable.
They change their name to Six Pack. Funny scene. Then they go to Afghanistan.
The Six Pack were supposed to be clearing an opium route for Tolliver, but the mission goes sideways when Cable notices some unusual technology and takes the team off their mission to investigate a secret complex.
They encounter Stryfe.
Cable tosses a strap full of explosives at Stryfe, but Zero teleports him away. Cable likewise bodyslides the Six Pack, who weren't aware that he had that capability, and they're not too happy about him sabotaging the mission (Stryfe was actually working with Tolliver).
The Six Pack subsequently find themselves hunted by Tolliver for failing their mission. But Cable keeps pushing them to go after Stryfe, and they eventually locate him again, in Paraguay. This final mission of the Six Pack is said to have been "six years ago". They locate another base and get inside, fighting their way through goons.
The goal is to get a disc full of information. But Stryfe shows up, and grabs Kane. He's got a forcefield that the Six Pack can't penetrate. Cable tries to bodyslide his team out, but the base has a shield up to block his teleportation wavelength. Stryfe tells Cable that he'll swap Kane for the disc, but Cable refuses. He shoots Hammer in the back when Hammer tries to give Stryfe the disc.
Stryfe nonetheless manages to use his telekinesis to grab the disc. Stryfe then activates the base's self-destruct sequence. Cable's bodyslide doesn't work, but i guess he's still able to timetravel, so he sends himself to the future, leaving the rest of the Six Pack behind.
Kane is caught in the subsequent explosion, which is why he had to be rebuilt as Weapon X.
In the present day, Cable is tracking the Mutant Liberation Front, who have been hitting a string of museums and the like.
They are acquiring artifacts that bear the likeness of Apocalypse.
Note that Skids is among them, and talking like a normal person (i.e. no obvious indication that she's brainwashed).
Cable manages to kill Sumo (the least original of the MLF, so not big loss) and get the sword. The rest of the MLF flee.
Thanks to a contact at a museum in Egypt, Cable is able to find a connection between the items that Stryfe has been stealing, and he stakes out one of two remaining artifacts. The MLF team going after this artifact includes Rusty, who again talks normally and even makes a snarky comment.
Cable's intel also seems a little off. He names one of the MLF "Samurai" but it's really Kamikaze. It's an understandable mistake. "I know it's some kind of stereotypical Japanese thing."
Cable manages to shoot both Rusty and Kamikaze (he gets the name right this time) in the arms and blasts Reaper's hand off.
The MLF flee without the hieroglyph they came to steal. The MLF believe that Cable is shooting to kill, and that's understandable after the death of Sumo. Rusty and Skids were kidnapped by the MLF just as Cable was being introduced, in New Mutants #87. So he never knew them personally. But he did make the assessment in New Mutants #98 that they were "too difficult to liberate right now", so he must be aware that they were being held against their will (and, geez, shame on Rictor and Boom Boom, at least, for not wanting to rescue them after all this time). The fact that Rusty and Skids now seem to be willing members of the MLF suggests that Stryfe has a sophisticated brainwashing capability, and, for me at least, that calls into question whether any members of the MLF are truly evil. But obviously Cable didn't take that into consideration when killing Sumo. He does later say that he's holding back against the MLF, although it's phrased as if he's questioning himself about why: "Why hold back? Because they're young? Because maybe -- Stryfe is using them now -- the way I used the Six Pack years ago?". That doesn't quite line up with the idea that they're brainwashed, but it's along the same lines.
Meanwhile, the current Weapon X, Kane has been rebuilt, with increased firepower.
Kane goes to visit Hammer, who, as we've already learned in the X-Force series, was crippled during the final Six Pack mission.
Hammer gives Kane the location of some of Cable's safehouses, and Kane is able to locate Cable at one of them. Cable is able to subdue Kane, who subsequently shows him why he's after him - a recording of Stryfe taking his mask off to reveal that he looks like Cable. Cable convinces Kane to work with him to stop Stryfe from going for the final artifact. The artifact is held by the Yashida clan, so Cable has to convince the Silver Samurai to let them replace it with a fake containing a tracking device.
But Stryfe discovers the tracker and sets a trap for Cable and Kane. Cable sees for the first time (outside of a hologram recording shown to him by Kane earlier in this series) that they share a face.
The scene is set up like a parallel to the final Six Pack mission (and, as mentioned above, the scenes are actually interspersed). Cable asks Stryfe why he's acting now, after all these years. Stryfe says it's beacuse time is up and he's prepared to set his life aright. Stryfe demands access to Cable's "Professor" computer, as part of Stryfe's fight against Apocalypse.
This time, Cable seemingly accepts, and ejects a data interface to give to Stryfe. But after Kane is released, Cable destroys the interface. Stryfe then unleashes his telekinesis on Cable, and Cable realizes and accepts "that he is me and I am him -- only he is more of me -- than I am of him". He realizes "for the first time" that Stryfe's power comes from him, not his armor. However, Kane is able to save Cable by shooting his launchable hands at Stryfe. They turn out to be explosive. Cable then does a timerip by two, taking both himself and Kane into the future, where Kane is fully repaired.
In this future we see a statue of Apocalypse.
There are still some mysteries here. Cable talks about a "she" that died in his arms. And of course the situation with Stryfe and Apocalypse, and the future that Apocalypse rules, is unresolved. But the Apocalypse stuff will be addressed in the near future, or really in concurrence by publication date. And a lot is resolved here, like where Tolliver came from and why he was after Cable and the other former Six Packers, and why the Six Pack hated Cable. And a good confrontation between Cable and Stryfe instead of just having them shake their fists at each other from a distance throughout the X-Force series. The book has a real purpose, and Nicieza does a good job adding in some human elements by having Cable come to terms with the fact that he betrayed Kane and the others, which causes him to make different decisions this time. In a sense, the fact that the X-Force series left so much stuff dangling provided an opportunity for Nicieza to do something meaningful here.
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: This takes place after Cable leaves X-Force in X-Force #15, and after Stryfe starts stealing artifacts in X-Men #13. Kane's arms are repaired and he remains in the future until the early issues of the Cable ongoing series, so his appearances in other books (like Alpha Flight #114-117) should take place prior this.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (9): show
(Joking Mode) FIINGERBEEEEEEMZ!!!!! (had to be done, it's another AT4W classic)
(non-joking mode) I find it admirable that Nicieza is trying to link together and make sense of everything Liefeld left him when he left for Image, both for the sake of the books and for the sake of the upcoming "X-cutioner's Song" crossover. Considering how much of it he had to go through, it really shows that he's probably the only one that could make sense of anything left behind by Liefeld.
Posted by: Ataru320 | April 25, 2016 1:34 PM
The bad Apocalypse future, which the Twelve ultimately bolted onto, had so many cooks over the years that I'm not sure it ever coalesced into a storyline that made sense if you gave it more than a minute's thought.
Also kudos to John Romita Jr for elevating this material with his art.
Posted by: Red Comet | April 25, 2016 1:47 PM
It doesn't REALLY make sense, but it did occasionally flirt with coherency and some cool directions. Personally, I find the neo-new testament meets steam-punk art in the first Cyclops and Phoenix LS to be very inspired.
Posted by: gfsdf gfbd | April 25, 2016 3:52 PM
I remember issue #2 being extremely late, so much so that it came out after the months long crossover it was leading to! But still a solid read with good art.
Posted by: Joe | April 25, 2016 5:04 PM
Yeah Rocket Punch!
Posted by: david banes | April 25, 2016 7:38 PM
@Joe- yeah, issue 2 came out 3 months late! That was a foretaste of what would happen in 1993, when many books, including Cable's regular series, came out ridiculously late.
Posted by: Michael | April 25, 2016 9:35 PM
I don't blame Cable for getting Kamikaze's name wrong, when Kamikaze's own teammmate (Dragoness) called him "Samurai" just a second earlier.
Posted by: Erik Robbins | April 25, 2016 9:40 PM
Actually, Marvel Wiki says that Samurai and Kamikaze are two different people, two brothers (citing the entry for MLF in "Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z hardcover vol. 8" as the source).
It's funny because that was probably just a mistake (unless we missed that the two of them appear together in a scene), but to explain it they had to make up a whole character for the handbook.
Posted by: KombatGod | December 17, 2017 6:15 PM
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