Deadpool 2, featuring Josh “Thanos” Brolin as Cable, hits theaters next month. To prepare for the Cable-mania Marvel hopes will sweep the world, the publisher has been pumping out multiple Cable collections of varying degrees of quality. The latest trade paperback, Cable: Revolution, is sadly on the lower end of the quality spectrum. Unless you like your Cable tales on the weirder side.
I’m talking Cable teaming up with a diner-owning neanderthal because said neanderthal treated the time-traveling warrior to a free burger. That kind of weird.
More on that soon, though, I promise. First, let me provide a little context on this bizarre chapter in Cable’s publishing history, which ran from issues 79-96. It was the year 2000–the perfect time for a comic book revolution… in the X-Men’s corner of the Marvel Universe. Uncanny X-Men and X-Men got bold and fresh new directions courtesy of… uh, Chris Claremont (wait a second). And Cable? Cable got a new lease on life via author Robert Weinberg and artist Michael Ryan. Cool! I guess?
Cable #91 had a quote on its cover from author Dean Koontz that read, “Bob Weinberg is one of the greatest comic book writers of all time.” I’m assuming Koontz didn’t actually read any of the comics in this collection, because that definitely isn’t the same conclusion I reached. Weinberg, who passed away in 2016, may have been a lifelong comics fan, but his storytelling style just didn’t work with Cable’s ongoing adventures in my opinion.
For starters, every single wordy issue began with the same, generic narration.
Cable #79: “His name is Nathan Dayspring Summers, but to all but a select few he’s known as Cable.”
Cable #82: “His name is Nathan Summers, also known as Cable. Refugee from a distant future, he’s a mutant gifted with telepathy and telekinesis.”
Cable #93: “His name is Nathan Dayspring Summers, but to most he’s known as Cable.”
You get the idea. Nothing makes a collection more of a chore to get through than repetitive storytelling.It’s very clear that at this point in time–just before Grant Morrison arrived to turn the X-Men’s world upside down–Marvel wasn’t sure what to do with Cable as a character (Weinberg’s run takes place right before Cable was rebranded as Soldier-X). Following his father Cyclops’ sacrifice to defeat Apocalypse, Cable was pretty aimless. So he joined the X-Men, started carrying Cyke’s visor around his neck and kind of became a Jedi with his trusty Psimitar in the place of a lightsaber. Gone, surprisingly, were the big guns, which kind of defined the character and his popularity. This was a kinder, gentler Cable.
With this new status quo, Cable embarked on exciting adventures, featuring… uh, witches. Yeah, witches! And don’t forget the introduction of the Ranshi Empire. And the epic Dark Sisterhood saga, which dragged on and on and pitted Cable against an evil, secret organization of women hell-bent on taking over the world… via the White House! Did I mention the leader of the Dark Sisterhood was none other than… Jean Grey’s grandmother?!
“Many times removed!”
But not really!
Yeah, these are some pretty strange stories, with weird moments sprinkled throughout, like the time Cable asked Storm out on a date we never see that go anywhere. And an issue where Cable’s friend, journalist Irene Merryweather convinces him he’s like Kurt Russell in the classic 1998 film Soldier. Did I mention that toward the end of his run, Weinberg had the caucasian Merryweather become black so he could shoehorn in commentary on racial profiling? I’m telling you, Cable: Revolution is all over the place.
But probably the most bizarre of the bizarre stories in this collection is Weinberg’s final issue: “I Was Born About Ten Thousand Years Ago,” in which Cable visits Old Man Cole’s diner and gets a burger–on the house! You see, true to his name, Old Man Cole was a neanderthal who was abducted by aliens and just kept going once he got back to Earth. He watched as Julius Caesar was betrayed by Brutus. He fought in the first World War. And I’m going to assume he met Wolverine somewhere along the way, even if Weinberg never mentioned it. Anyway, what Old Man Cole really wanted to do was beat up two fellow, immortal neanderthals. But he couldn’t do it without Cable’s help–good thing he made Cable that burger!
Seriously, Cable said, “I’m a man who pays his debts. I owe you for a sandwich.”
What? How did this get published?So, did I like anything about Weinberg’s run? One thing: the writer worked hard to develop some type of relationship between Cable and Rachel Summers. Cyclops and Jean Grey have all these kids running around the Marvel Universe from different timelines–it’s nice to see two of them looking out for one another. Though, as this is a really weird run, Rachel’s story gets pretty strange when she decides to go to college and, apparently, bring a gun? I guess these crazy Summers kids just love their firearms.
A bulk of this run was also drawn by Michael Ryan (with an assist from Tom Derenick), which gives it a consistent feel. Ryan has always been one of those Marvel artists who you can rely on to deliver an easy-to-follow story, but not really excite readers. I also felt like his wide-eyed characters and animated-like style wasn’t the best fit for Cable.
One of the fun parts about reading Marvel collections like Revolution is when you come across pencils from top talent before they were the comics stars they are today. In Cable #86, you’ll find early art from none other than Secret Wars artist Essad Ribic.
At $39.99, I really can’t recommend this collection unless you’re a die-hard Cable and X-Men fan who’s never read these comics. Or if bad comics just bring you joy, because these are by no means “good” stories. If you’re new to Cable and want to learn more about him after seeing Deadpool 2, there are so many other collections out there that are much more likely to please.
Unless… this book is the beginning of Old Man Cole’s comeback. Wait… those prehistoric Avengers… oh no, it is isn’t it? Marvel’s planning Old Man Logan Vs. Old Man Hawkeye Vs. Old Man Cole: Revenge of the Ranshi Empire and we didn’t even realize it!
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