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Thursday, August 27, 2015

X-amining New Mutants #94

"Lethal Weapons"
October 1990

In a Nutshell
Cable & Wolverine fight, then team-up to help defeat Stryfe and the MLF. 

Writer: Louise Simonson
Artist: Rob Liefeld
Inker: Hilary Barta
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Brad Vancata
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Wolverine and Cable savagely fight one another, while Cannonball, Boom-Boom, Warlock and Sunfire are held captive by the MLF. However, Cannonball goads Dragoness into kissing him, and he uses the opportunity to filch the key to their restraints from her headdress. Back at the docks, the rest of the New Mutants, worried that Cable and Wolverine will kill each other, intervene by dropping a water tower on them to break up the fight. As cooler heads prevail, Cable fills Wolverine in on the situation with the MLF and the drug Sleet. Elsewhere, Stryfe sends his expendable soldiers after the escaped New Mutants, needing the MLF to disperse the sleet, after which it won't matter what Cable and the New Mutants do. However, via stealth, the escaped New Mutants manage to capture one of the soldiers, and Sunfire threatens him with his power in exchange for the location of Sleet.


Meanwhile, the rest of the New Mutants and Wolverine have used their portable Cerebro to locate Stryfe's warehouse. They break in to discover the rest of the team beat them there, just as Stryfe and the MLF arrive. The two teams battle, with Cable taking on Stryfe one-on-one. However, as Sunfire and Dragoness duel, Rictor tries to help, but his attack causes Dragoness to lose control of her power, setting the warehouse on fire. The New Mutants retreat as the weapons and explosives in the warehouse detonate, destroying Sleet. The New Mutants note that Stryfe was undone by his own weapons, but Cable isn't confidant he's gone for good. Boom-Boom worries that if Stryfe is dead, they'll never find Rusty & Skids, but Cable assures her finding her friends is next on their agenda.  

Firsts and Other Notables
This issue represents the first on-page, face-to-face interaction between Cable and Stryfe. The fact that they're in the same place at the same time is significant given some of the theories that cropped up about their relationship given later revelations in this series.


As the issue ends, Cable declares that rescuing Rusty and Skids from the MLF is next on the New Mutants' agenda. Whether that was the intended post-"X-Tinction Agenda" story for the series, which ultimately didn't happen due to the departure of Simonson and/or the transition to X-Force, or if X-Force was a known thing at this point and the dialogue is just an attempt to setup the "next issue" box's play on words, I have no idea. Either way, we never do actually see Cable and the New Mutants attempt to rescue Rusty and Skids from the MLF.

The image of Cable on the cover of this issue was used as the cover for the early editions of the Cable trade paperback which collected issues #87-94 (sans the fill-in #92) and was the means with which I read many of those issues for the first time back in the day.

A Work in Progress
Warlock points out that the New Mutants at this point have been trained by Professor X, Magneto and Cable, thus giving them a unique perspective on and approach to things relative to other students of Xavier's, something I've always enjoyed and appreciated when it gets referenced.


Cannonball mentions he's been discussing tactics with Cable, while Boom-Boom reveals that Cable has been having the New Mutants practice their martial arts.


The Grim 'n' Gritty 90s
Wolverine tries to light up, then complains that the New Mutants ruined his cigar.


Young Love
Cannonball goads MLFer Dragoness into kissing him, enabling him to lift the key to his manacles from her headdress (why she keeps the key there, why it's a key card when they're clearly wearing old-fashioned chains, how he knew it was there, and why she reacted to his words by kissing him is not made clear).


This then prompts Sam to tease a jealous Boom-Boom, which in turn prompts her to kiss him, something which surprises them both (how she's able to kiss him when they were earlier shown to be chained back-to-back to each other is not made clear).


The Cable Guy
While Wolverine's animalistic senses and healing factor are detailed as his powers, Cable is simply described as, essentially, being a tough, determined and capable fighter in his own right.


The Best There is at What He Does
Wolverine says that the fight between him and Cable is real enough, and goes back a long ways, another cryptic hint at the past of the two kings of cryptic hints about their past at this point in time, though I don't believe we ever learn much more about what their beef with each other at this point is, specifically.


Claremontisms
Wolverine's bones are described as being "nigh-indestructible".

501 Genes
Please note the conveniently-feet-obscuring cloud of dust/smoke on the cover. 

I'm not exactly sure what's going on with Cable's hand in this panel, but I suppose since it's robotic/cybernetic, it doesn't have to obey the laws of human anatomy...


Cable apparently manages to punch Stryfe's red cape right out of existence (or into invisibility).


Teebore's Take
While much of this issue is handed over to an ultimately superfluous Wolverine/Cable fight (which was, of course, the bee's knees back in the day), it also does an effective job of showing the impact of Cable on the New Mutants. Granted, we're "shown" that impact mostly by being told about it, stuff like Sam having discussed leadership strategy with Cable while Boom-Boom asserts that the New Mutants have been honing their martial arts skills at Cable's insistence. But given that this issue is, essentially, the swan song of the Cable-led New Mutants (the next three issues are handed over to "X-Tinction Agenda"; after that, it's all deconstruction and rebuilding going into X-Force), any effort to illustrate the changes on the team wrought by Cable is appreciated. Additionally, there's some advancement of the Sam/Boom-Boom romance, something that's been simmering off and on since the days of Brett Blevins, and we get the first face-to-face confrontation between Cable and Stryfe, a meeting that will retroactively increase in significance as their relationship becomes more and more prominent in the X-Universe. This isn't quite characterization amidst action on the level of Claremont or even earlier Simonson (and much of the action is rushed/nonsensical), but for a Liefeld-drawn comic chiefly remembered for its gratuitous Wolverine guest appearance, it's not too shabby, either.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, love is in the air in X-Factor #59. Next week, get out your three-ring-binder, your plastic sleeve pages and your hologram chase cards, we're examining the Marvel Universe Series 1 trading card set!

Collected Editions

17 comments:

  1. This Brad Vancata guy is amazing. He colored Rick Leonardi's EXCALIBUR issue too, and that looked fantastic. This looks just as nice, colorwise. I love his muted tones and his use of white for highlighting. That picture of Wolverine and Cable under "The Cable Guy" heading is particularly beautiful.

    Otherwise I have nothing to say about this issue, as I've never read it.

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  2. > The image of Cable on the cover of this issue was used as the cover for the early editions of the Cable trade paperback which collected issues #87-94 (sans the fill-in #92) and was the means with which I read many of those issues for the first time back in the day.

    Cable's pose on this cover is, also, a "swipe" (are we allowed to accuse Liefeld of swiping, yet?) of Roadblock from a pin-up Michael Golden did for the second G.I. JOE YEARBOOK. Scroll down, about, halfway, here -- http://www.yojoe.com/comics/homages/ -- for the side-by-side comparison.

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  3. @Cerebro: Cable's pose on this cover is, also, a "swipe" (are we allowed to accuse Liefeld of swiping, yet?) of Roadblock from a pin-up Michael Golden did for the second G.I. JOE YEARBOOK.

    A. Thanks for the heads up, I never realized that was a swipe (and a blatant one at that).
    2. Yes, we are totally allowed to accuse Liefeld of swiping. The only reason I don't do it more myself is because, in all but the most famous or obvious examples, I'm *terrible* at noticing it. Like, once I see side-by-side, it's obvious, but I rarely make the connection myself.

    So if anyone spots any swipes as we go along, point 'em out!

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  4. This issue represents the first on-page, face-to-face interaction between Cable and Stryfe. The fact that they're in the same place at the same time is significant given some of the theories that cropped up about their relationship given later revelations in this series.

    There are such things as Doombots and Thanosi.

    Cable apparently manages to punch Stryfe's red cape right out of existence (or into invisibility).

    And reveal the most anatomically correct armored ass there ever was. Some master blacksmith must've spent hours and hours banging that ass. And no, I refuse to rephrase.

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  5. "Either way, we never do actually see Cable and the New Mutants attempt to rescue Rusty and Skids from the MLF."
    We do see Cable and X-FORCE attacking the MLF's base in X-Force 1. Presumably, if the MLF hadn't all escaped, they would have asked any members they captured where Rusty and Skids were. It's not like Amara being threatened by Selene, or the kidnapped Inferno babies, where the team hasn't done anything to rescue them, or even thought about them in ages.

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  6. Yeah, but... Cable vs. Wolverine though.

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  7. I should’ve mentioned this in comments on Uncanny #268, maybe, but the previous New Mutants wasn’t fresh in my head so the fact that both were taking place in Madripoor didn’t hit me: Are the present-day action of that issue, this here two-parter, and the events contemporaneously depicted in Wolverine occurring at roughly the same time, right before the big crossover that’s about to happen in the X-team books?

    // Cannonball goads Dragoness into kissing him, and he uses the opportunity to filch the key to their restraints from her headdress … (why she keeps the key there, why it's a key card when they're clearly wearing old-fashioned chains, how he knew it was there, and why she reacted to his words by kissing him is not made clear) //

    ^ +1,000

    // The Best There is at What He Does //

    You could’ve put Cable under here too. According to one of the captions on the sideways double-page-spread to which you referred, Mr. Kewly Sue is “among the best at everything he does, and in his short time as leader of the New Mutants he’s convinced his charges that he does everything well,” although come to think of it that last word should’ve been left out since otherwise it’s simultaneously kind-of redundant and kind-of undercutting the first part. Whatever. "Is" should be capitalized here, by the way, since it's not a preposition or conjunction. 8^)

    // Cable apparently manages to punch Stryfe's red cape right out of existence //

    He’s Superboy-Prime!

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  8. "Cannonball goads MLFer Dragoness into kissing him, enabling him to lift the key to his manacles from her headdress (why she keeps the key there, why it's a key card when they're clearly wearing old-fashioned chains, how he knew it was there, and why she reacted to his words by kissing him is not made clear)."

    And ALSO unclear (at least to me), is how the fact that she was kissing him made it any easier to grab a key, when both his hands are completely covered by the manacles.

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  9. @Teemu: There are such things as Doombots and Thanosi.

    Of course. And straight-up clones. But after the Stryfe reveal in issue #100, there was some speculation that Cable and Stryfe were actually the same person - as in, one individual playing both roles, without any clones or stand-ins, but their encounter in this one negates that idea.

    @Anonymous: It's not like Amara being threatened by Selene, or the kidnapped Inferno babies, where the team hasn't done anything to rescue them, or even thought about them in ages.

    Eh, it's pretty close to that. At least, it will be once X-Force starts up and they go dozens of issues without mentioning Rusty and Skids. And hey, Cable name checks Amara briefly soon. :)

    @Blam: Are the present-day action of that issue, this here two-parter, and the events contemporaneously depicted in Wolverine occurring at roughly the same time, right before the big crossover that’s about to happen in the X-team books?

    Per the Marvel Chronology Project, UXM #268 and this story happen roughly back-to-back (Wolverine: Rahne of Terra, the 91 pseudo-Wolverine annual falls between them) but both of those stories take place well before Wolverine #31, and there's a bunch of other Wolverine appearances in there too (the next issue of Wolverine chronologically after this story is #24, and his appearance in "X-Tinction Agenda" comes after issue #34).

    "Is" should be capitalized here, by the way, since it's not a preposition or conjunction.

    But it's such a small word... ;)

    He’s Superboy-Prime!

    Ha!

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  10. @Jason: And ALSO unclear (at least to me), is how the fact that she was kissing him made it any easier to grab a key, when both his hands are completely covered by the manacles.

    Heh. Good catch. I'm not entirely sure, but I think the art is inconsistent in that regard (shocking, I know), in that his hands are completely covered at one point but shackled only at the wrists at other points.

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  11. Yeah, how Cannonball was able to remove the key from Dragonesses' headpiece is about as nonsensical as anything else we'll see in this title. Not to mention how he knew it was there, why she keeps it there to begin with (maybe she took a page from Storm with regards to that?), etc...

    "Boom-Boom reveals that Cable has been having the New Mutants practice their martial arts."

    While it does make sense, in story, for them to learn martial arts, I can't help but feel it's just because Liefeld is just lazy when it comes to showing a real superhero fight with people using actual superhero powers. Considering how 90% of his characters either have super strength, or use some type of weapon, or are just martial artists to be begin with, it's not that surprising.

    "While much of this issue is handed over to an ultimately superfluous Wolverine/Cable fight"

    Can you think of a better way to prop up how kewl Cable is?

    Cable punching out Stryfe is hilarious, especially in light of what we later learn Stryfe's power is. Of course, its obvious nobody has yet determined what his or Cable's actual powers are, at this point.

    In hindsight, I do understand that Liefeld did bring some energy to a title that seemed to be experiencing quite a degree of malaise, especially when it came to the artwork. But man, when you take off the nostalgia goggle? That is some really shitty, shitty artwork.

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  12. Teebore: And straight-up clones. But after the Stryfe reveal in issue #100, there was some speculation that Cable and Stryfe were actually the same person - as in, one individual playing both roles, without any clones or stand-ins, but their encounter in this one negates that idea.

    My point kind of was that if old bores like Dr. Doom and Thanos can have fakelings to be used for menial tasks (by writers other than Byrne/Starlin), surely supER-COOL Stryfe could also, for example here by Cable-Stryfe to fool everyone here to think they're obviously not the same person. Which they are, as revealed in #100, and this contradicting encounter here can easily be written off.

    As it happens, I never got the #100, or any of the X-FORCE, so "Cable" gunning down Xavier in X-Cutioner's Song was a curious new development for me.

    Ha, the clone bit btw actually evaded me as an explanation. I think I've become too avid an Thomas&William Maximoffist. Though, why would Marvel ever want to mess an iconic character like Cable with any clone nonsense?

    I think my brain actually shut off back in the day in regards to the kisses and keycards scene. They want some triangle drama, they goddamns get some triangle drama, sense and impossibility be damned.

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  13. Teebore: I'm not entirely sure, but I think the art is inconsistent in that regard (shocking, I know), in that his hands are completely covered at one point but shackled only at the wrists at other points.

    "From the company that brought you the revolving tit window dress...!"

    (like, some in-universe Acme. not implicating Image in any way.)

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  14. @wwk5d: Of course, its obvious nobody has yet determined what his or Cable's actual powers are, at this point.

    Yeah, Stryfe is pretty much just an armored dude at this point, and the narration about how Cable is awesome is pretty much the extent of his powers at this point.

    @Teemu: My point kind of was that if old bores like Dr. Doom and Thanos can have fakelings to be used for menial tasks (by writers other than Byrne/Starlin), surely supER-COOL Stryfe could also, for example here by Cable-Stryfe to fool everyone here to think they're obviously not the same person

    Ah, gotcha. Yeah, I suppose, had they been the same person, we could chalk one of them up to a facsimile stand-in at this point.

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  15. @wwk5d: // it does make sense, in story, for them to learn martial arts //

    Yeah. I just wish we got a little more show and lest just tell, Sam or whoever saying how it’s a good thing Cable has been training them in this or that — it does make sense in-story but we don’t actually see it happen in a story.

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  16. @Teebore: I think that in issue #98, Cable specifically says that he doesn't care about Rusty and Skids anymore. Mostly because he says that about all the previous New Mutants as an excuse for why he decided he to get an all, new team instead of just trying to recruit older team members (well that and because around this time "being a jerk" was the most admirable trait a "heroic" character could have.)

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  17. While the Cannonball/Dragoness scene is ridiculously implausible, for all the reasons mentioned above, there is a part of me that is pleased simply for the continuing emphasis on Sam as a cunning leader and strategist. While the actual plan didn't make sense, I think the general idea of it isn't a bad one, it just needed an artist who knew how to coordinate properly with storytelling. But again I like the idea of Sam not being someone to be underestimated. I also like the budding romance with Boom-Boom too. His (again poorly-constructed) "gambit" with Dragoness shows that he's not as "innocent" as he might appear, while still retaining his "aw shucks" country-boy charm. I even like the (rather manic) grin that shows up on Sam's face after Boom-Boom kisses him (although it's slightly ruined by the fact that's tghis will become Standard Liefeld Expression #253)

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