Issue(s): Cable #6, Cable #8, Cable #9
X-Cutioner's Song brought us a fair amount of closure, but one thing it left open was the question of whether Stryfe or Cable was the clone (and in fact it's been strongly implied that Cable is the clone). Another thing that's been left open is the mystery of Tolliver. These issues address both of those questions.
The arc begins with the robot Zero, who now talks after the Deadpool miniseries, questioning Tolliver, asking him how it can be acceptable for him to work with Tolliver if his programming is to stop the weapons of war. And we learn that Tolliver is Cable's son, Tyler.
Tyler has now made a deal with Mr. Sinister ("someone who has as keen an interest in the Summers family line as I").
Meanwhile, Cable meets Domino at the grave of Madelyne Pryor and tells her that Tolliver is still alive. But they are then approached by Mr. Sinister.
Sinister calls Domino "Beatrice", for what it's worth (her real name will eventually be revealed as "Neena Thurman"). Sinister also makes it very clear that Cable is in fact that real boy, although Cable is pretty dense about accepting it.
Seriously, it's not you, Mr. Sinister, it's him.
What do words even mean?!?
When Mr. Sinister can't stand it any more, he releases some energy and Cable turns evil.
Evil Cable isn't happy about the lack of facial hair.
He's right. You at least need a goatee in these circumstances.
Meanwhile, a new Askani appears in the present, near the X-Mansion. She gets captured by Tyler and Zero.
At the beginning of issue #7, Tyler explains to the audience that Cable and Stryfe have been occupying the same body since they got tossed into the timestream together.
He then proceeds to torture the Askani to get information from her. Zero wonders if that's within the parameters of his program, but Tyler says that she's hurting him by not giving him the information. He's got a future as a cable news political pundit, i guess.
From the Askani we see a flashback that looks like it features Rachel Summers.
Baby Nathan Summers was dying from the techno-virus, so the Askani Mother broke with tradition and had the baby cloned. But then Apocalypse's forces attacked their base and the clone had to be abandoned.
Domino, injured after Stryfe's attack on her, goes to the X-Mansion for help. The Professor X, Jean, and Cyclops then take Domino to the X-Force's base. Xavier is a bit shocked to see the squalor in which his former New Mutants live. They also learn that Stryfe attacked Siryn and Rictor at the base, but didn't kill them. Then Zero arrives and offers to take Jean and Scott to "put an end to a weapon of war and destruction".
Meanwhile, Stryfe tracks down and attacks Tyler. Stryfe was also unaware that he was the clone.
Stryfe blasts the Askani, dispersing her atoms. Tyler's mutant power is the ability to "telepathically afix myself to someone's memories and visually display them" which kind of sucks in a fight but is helpful in a story full of flashbacks. So Tyler is able to show more of what happened to Stryfe as a baby. He was found and raised by Apocalypse.
Separate from those flashbacks, Zero tells the X-Men the specifics of what happened to Cable and Stryfe after they were merged.
Then the X-Men arrive and Jean and Xavier try to reach Stryfe telepathically. One goal they have is to find the cure to the Legacy Virus. But they of course also want to separate Cable and Stryfe. The Askani seems to come back at this point as well (the art is kind of a mess at this point, with flashback, astral projections, and the real world all kind of blurring together). The Askani manages to reach Stryfe, and he backs out of his attack and relinquishes control of Cable. Jean is unable to get info on the Legacy Virus from him before he disperses. Tyler flees in the confusion.
At the end of the issue, Cable asks Cyclops to tell him about his mother.
Earlier in this story, Jean and Scott were watching a video of Madelyne Pryor and baby Cable, and Jean said that it was "almost" like she was Cable's mother. And then Scott says that Maddie was a lie.
With those lines, we're so close to getting to what should have happened (what i think did happen) during Inferno, which is that Jean absorbed the memories and feelings of both Madelyne and the Phoenix so that writers could treat all of Jean's past as one contiguous block, and also so we could get past all of the above misery and drama. In that sense, Jean really is Cable's mother. But that's not what Nicieza is going for here, especially with Cable visiting Maddie's grave. It's like picking at a scab, in my opinion.
As for these overall issues, one thing i appreciate about post-Liefeld Nicieza is that he's been very prompt about settling mysteries. The question of Tolliver being back, and who Sinsear was sent back in time to kill, has all been settled without much delay. The mystery about who was real and who was the clone was delayed due to back office decisions, but Nicieza is able to settle it now. So i like that. But i can't help feeling like these issues are a Marvel Handbook entry set to the music of people screaming at each other. All the flashbacks are a chore, and anytime i hear anything about the Askani my eyes involuntarily roll back in my head. But all of this had to be done. And just in time, i guess: this is Nicieza's last full arc. In the next storyline, the writing will transition over to Glenn Herdling.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Due to the way Cable asks Domino for help here, this should probably take place before X-Force #29-30, when Cable asks Domino to help him with X-Force on a permanent basis. Mr. Sinister was also appearing in Excalibur at this time, but it doesn't seem to matter which order he appears in.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showCable (Adult), Cyclops, Domino, Genesis, Jean Grey, Mr. Sinister, Professor X, Rictor, Siryn, Stryfe, Zero
Even by early 1990s superhero comic book standards, that is a BIIIIIIIG gun that Cable/Stryfe is pointing at the Askani!
Posted by: Ben Herman | March 29, 2017 2:25 PM
"Sinister calls Domino "Beatrice", for what it's worth". Beatrice turns out to be a nickname her ex-husband gave her, after the love of Dante's life.
Posted by: Michael | March 29, 2017 9:25 PM
...More evidence that Inferno was poorly done.
Posted by: Michael | March 29, 2017 9:39 PM
I didn't understand a whole lot about this synopsis, but what I did understand suggests that this was still including a fraction of Claremont's last contributions before being fired. "Bright Lady"? Really? I seem to recall Askani and her people having some other connection with Ororo as well, in speech patterns or something, as well as being part of the future Summers timeline w/redheads, and the techno-organic virus.
I guess what I'm saying is that, as impenetrable as I find this story to be, and as unwilling as I'd be to read it if I happened to be bored someplace and a copy was right next to me, it feels like an attempt at ending part of the ridiculous X-plots. Cable doesn't care about Jean, he cares about his mother. Jean and Scott's dialogue is forced, unconvincing and the exact opposite of the [genre-limited] sweetness that Scott and Madelyne fell in love.
[Although thinking about it, even that was a place the writer really was telling us that they spent the night together, woke up fully clothed, and then Maddie offered to make breakfast. Yeah, it was drawn, but still...]
Oh, and Mr. Sinister was there too, since he was created back when Jean was still dead dead dead. Or possibly even in Cockrum's first run, in which case she was still alive.
Posted by: ChrisW | March 30, 2017 9:04 PM
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