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Thursday, March 1, 2018

X-amining Cable #7

"Fathers and Sons Act Two: Illumination"
January 1994

In a Nutshell
Cyclops & Jean learn the truth about Cable as Stryfe targets Tyler.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Aaron Wiesenfeld
Inker: Al Vey & John Holdredge
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Marie Javins
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Tyler tortures Askani in order to force her to show him what happened after Nathan Summers was taken into the future. At Camp Verde, Stryfe, in Cable's body, attacks Rictor & Siryn before leaving. At the X-Mansion, Domino arrives to tell Cyclops & Jean Grey that Cable is their son, and that Stryfe is in control of his body. Meanwhile, Tyler watches as the infant Nathan, near-death due to the techno-organic virus, is cloned by the Askani clan as a contingency should he die. Domino, Cyclops, Jean Grey & Professor X arrive at Camp Verde and tend to Rictor & Siryn, explaining that Stryfe is in control of Cable's body. Just then, Zero appears before the group, looking for help fulfilling his programming to neutralize weapons, while Stryfe infiltrates Tyler's sanctuary, inadvertently freeing Askani as he targets Tyler.

Firsts and Other Notables
This issue confirms once and for all that Cable is Cyclop's son Nathan Christopher, and that Stryfe is a clone of Cable, created by the Askani for fear that Nathan would die of the techno-organic virus Apocalypse infected him with in X-Factor #65-68 (which is what led to his being brought to the future). It's said some of Nathan's injuries from the techno-organic virus manifested as scars in the clone, an attempt to reconcile the fact that Stryfe has the scars around his eye as Cable does, but which doesn't make much sense based on the traditional understanding of sci-fi cloning (I nevertheless appreciate Nicieza trying to explain what would otherwise be a discrepancy).


Cyclops, Jean and Professor X are given this information (at least, the truth that Cable is Nathan) by Domino. This also marks the first time those four characters have met.


In the flashback to Cable's future (watched by Tyler via his super-specific power), we get another look at Mother Askani, with a hint towards her identity as Rachel Summers present in the form of Rachel's pronounced facial scaring from her time as a Hound.


Also on hand in that flashback is a character named Boak; in issues #1-2 of this series, Cable had among his Clan Chosen group an android named Boak. It seems this character is meant to be the same as that one, despite the two not really looking alike (and this character seemingly being human, not robotic/synthetic).

Boak notes that some kind of energy field and consciousness is surrounding baby Nathan when he arrives, a reference to Ship, who bonded with Nathan in an effort to keep both alive in X-Factor #68, and who will later become Professor, the sentient AI on Graymalkin (and later part of Cable himself).

He also protests the idea of cloning Nathan, saying that is for Apocalypse; it will later be established that part of Apocalypse's schtick is that he burns through bodies and needs to periodically rejuvenate (as he was doing prior to "X-Cutioner's Song" when Stryfe awoke him) or take a new host body (in the Adventures of Cyclops & Phoenix limited series, he'll attempt to takeover a young Stryfe, and later, during "The Twelve", present day Apocalypse will target X-Man, the alt-universe counterpart of Cable/Stryfe, for possession as well).

This issue ends with a pinup of Cable by X-Force artist Tony Daniel.


A Work in Progress
This issue makes it clear that Cable & Stryfe are sharing Cable's body (with Stryfe currently in control after last issue).

Tyler's last name is given as "Nathan'son" by Askani, establishing that it's not just Cable who has a patronymic name in the future (whether that's true of everyone or just a thing the Askani do, is unclear).

It's also noted that Askani sacrificed her body in order to come back in time, as she exists only in energy form now.

Stryfe says that he made a mistake trying to make the deaths of his parents epic, which could be read as some veiled criticism of "X-Cutioner's Song".


Jean watches some old home videos of Scott, Madelyne and baby Nathan, and remarks upon how she has memories of those events despite not having experienced them, a rare reference to the fact that Jean received all of Maddie's memories (as well as those of her Phoenix impersonator) after "Inferno".


As Cyclops & Jean discuss the issues surrounding having a family while living the kinds of lives they lead, Xavier notes that people in other dangerous professions, like police officers and firefighters, also have families and live relatively normal lives.


Mother Askani refers to Nathan's arrival as a "day spring", the source of Cable's middle name.


Xavier is concerned with tracking down Stryfe in order to learn how to cure the Legacy Virus (assuming Stryfe has/knows of a cure is something of a leap on his part, of course, albeit an understandable one).


The Grim 'n' Gritty 90s
As Stryfe departs X-Force's base, he wields a comically large gun.


Artistic Achievements
This is one of those things I maybe wouldn't have noticed until after I became a father, but either Cyclops has enormous hands, or baby Nathan is ridiculously small in this panel.


Austin's Analysis
Nicieza continues to do his best crafting a Marvel Handbook entry on Cable into a story, confirming once and for all that Cable is Cyclops' son by depicting the moments immediately after Nathan Summers was taken into the future and subsequently cloned, leading to the creation of Cable and Stryfe. His efforts this issue are buoyed by the art, which, while not great (particularly the last few pages, where it seems like Weisenfeld suddenly got tired and sloppy, or the inkers changed to his detriment), has a greater sense of style & verve than the previous issue, with a few panels (like the opening splash of Tyler holding Stryfe's mask) almost Mignola-esque in their depiction. As anything more than an exposition dump masquerading as a story, this still isn't great stuff, but it nevertheless continues to be appreciated to have this series finally doing something relevant.

Next Issue
Next week: Uncanny X-Men #309, X-Factor #99 and Wolverine #78!


Collected Editions

3 comments:

  1. Jean watches some old home videos of Scott, Madelyne and baby Nathan, and remarks upon how she has memories of those events despite not having experienced them, a rare reference to the fact that Jean received all of Maddie's memories (as well as those of her Phoenix impersonator) after "Inferno".

    When exactly would these have been made? Cyclops is pretending that Nathan is speaking, but ... he left Madelyne and the baby in its infancy. Unless we're meant to believe six-plus months passed between UXM 200/201 and X-Factor 1. (Writers pretending Cyclops spent any time with baby Christopher before Inferno is one of my all-time pet peeves. Such an obvious retcon of Cyclops abandoning his wife and child to go off with an old flame.)

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  2. And if Sinister destroyed all traces of Maddie's existence, where did these videos come from?

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  3. // It's said some of Nathan's injuries from the techno-organic virus manifested as scars in the clone, an attempt to reconcile the fact that Stryfe has the scars around his eye as Cable does, but which doesn't make much sense based on the traditional understanding of sci-fi cloning //

    Don’t recall even noticing that but there were probably other ways to cover it, like intentionally scarring himself to pass as Cable or being so mentally unstable he did it in an insane act of twinning to become as close to his doppelganger nemesis as possible.

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