X of Swords is reaching its conclusion, but the battles are just beginning. For a while now, we’ve known that Cable #6 would feature the duel between the teenaged Nathan Summers and Arakko’s Bei the Blood Moon, but the issue also offers another surprise duel.
SPOILERS AHEAD for Cable #6!
Cable and Bei square off, with Phil Noto’s beautiful pencilwork outlining a pulse-pounding battle between two warriors. This fight is both the main attraction of the issue and its weakest point. X of Swords thus far has been safe if not convenient, saving its characters from fights to the death by means of plot convenience. Cable #6 is not exempt from this.
Just as Bei is about to deliver the killing blow to Nathan, Doug steps in and begs with his new wife to spare Cable’s life. Saturnyne declares that she outlined the rules quite clear: this was a fight to the death. However, since Nathan’s spirits had “died,” it was still technically a fight to the death. There is no reason for Saturnyne, the main villain of this event, to spare Nathan nor come up with this contrivance beyond plot convenience.
As Nathan licks his wounds and tends to his wounded pride, Scott and Jean wait on Krakoa, engaging with their son in a telepathic conversation. Scott and Jean’s interaction is brief, but one of the issue’s stronger points, reminiscent of the kind of conversations they’d have in classic X-Factor issues, with Jean reassuring Scott that Nathan will be OK. It’s also the most explicit showing of Scott’s current love life that we’ve seen since the conversations between him and Emma Frost in X-Men #3 and X-Men/Fantastic Four #2. A Jean/Scott scene like this was long overdue, but certainly welcome, even if it was brief.
The next battle is another fight to the death, this time between Gorgon and the White Sword. The score clearly favors Arakko, though Gorgon fixes that in a convenient way. As the White Sword employs his army, Gorgon makes quick use of them, earning a point for each warrior slain. Once Krakoa’s score gets high enough to have an edge on Arakko, War lambasts the White Sword for not fighting Gorgon himself. The battle is bloody, though once the White Sword claims Gorgon’s life, it gets bloodier.
Gorgon’s death scene feels a bit safe and unearned, as he’s the lone X of Swords character who didn’t have an entire issue dedicated to his motivations and the retrieval of his weapon. As a result, him dying in combat feels underwhelming, as though it wasn’t a huge risk for the writing team to take. The means by which he evens the score for Krakoa also fall into the “very convenient” category that Cable’s technicality did. It’s hard to read Gorgon’s fight in Cable #6 and not wish the character got more focus in the event prior.
The final pages of the issue set up the fight that the whole event has been building up to: Apocalypse vs. Annihilation.
Cable #6 highlights the weak points of the X of Swords saga as a whole, though delivers on its promise to provide an action-packed adventure. It’s a shame that a good deal of the Krakoan swordbearers will not be seen sword fighting and that characters like Storm never had a chance to duel Arakkii mutants in the first place.
Despite this, Gerry Duggan does a good job with the dialogue, providing what is arguably his strongest work in the Cable series thus far. As usual, Phil Noto’s art is breathtaking, never missing a beat. Nathan learning humility and how to lose could be interesting moving forward, regardless of the frustrating nature of his battle. And, of course, the set up for Apocalypse vs. Genesis is palpable, a (hopefully) thrilling conclusion which readers will finally get their hands on next week.
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