In a Nutshell
Cable battles Omega Red on Muir Island
Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: M.C. Wyman
Inker: Jason Gorder
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Marie Javins
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco
As Cable visits Phoenix on Muir Island to discuss their shared parentage, the Acolytes seek out Omega Red in the sewers of London, offering him the opportunity cure himself of the death spore virus which causes him to drain the life force of others. Later, WHO calls Excalibur for help dealing with attacks in London. Shadowcat & Phoenix respond, but Moira holds Cable back in order to run some tests on him. During the tests, which render Cable's bionic arm useless, Omega Red attacks, easily dispatching Moira and overcoming the one-armed Cable. When Cable regains consciousness, Shadowcat explains that Omega Red is gathering the equipment he needs to cure himself of the death spore virus, but in doing so, he will release the virus out into the world. Cable declares he will take care of Omega Red himself, but then Shadowcat reveals where Excalibur learned all this information: the Acolytes.
Firsts and Other Notables
This issue confirms that Cable's metallic parts (like his arm), long considered (and said) to be bionic, are actually techno-organic, with Cable saying he's been masking their true make-up to make them appear bionic to various sensors and whatnot (which is a pretty flimsy explanation, but I appreciate the effort on Nicieza's part nonetheless). This sets the stage for the later retcons that Cable is immensely powerful (as Stryfe was), but is perpetually using his power to hold the techno-organic virus in check, which in turn leads to a bunch of scenes where Cable uses his power for other things, causing the virus to rage out of control.
Moira also attributes the presence of the techno-organic material as the reason telepaths have such a difficult time reading Cable's mind.
In discussing his genesis as a creation of Mr. Sinister (who cloned Jean Grey to create Madelyne Pryor in order to bring about Cable's birth), he refers to himself as "the ultimate in designer mutant pawns". Somewhat notably, while the ideas that Cable is baby Nathan, and Nathan's birth was orchestrated by Mr. Sinister, have been established at this point, no clear reason for why Mr. Sinister wanted to create Cable has yet to be given. Ultimately, it will be said that Sinister intended for him to be a weapon against Apocalypse, but that will come later (mostly after "Age of Apocalypse" establishes the motive for that reality's Mr. Sinister).
Cable's past with Moira MacTaggert is also referenced (it was revealed they had a history together in one of Cable's earliest New Mutants appearances, when Moira was still under the control of the Shadow King). It's eventually revealed that Moira is the first person Cable encountered upon arriving in this timeline, and she helped him acclimate to the era, something which is mostly consistent with the vague references made here.
While examining Cable, Moira says this gives her a chance to test a hypothesis (they are then interrupted by Omega Red before she actually gets to do so), which is presumably a reference to her theory that Cable may be the key to a Legacy Virus vaccine (first explicitly referenced in X-Men #30).
This issue is chockablock with villains & guest stars from the larger X-universe, and kicks off a three part story which will feature most of them. First and foremost (since he spends a good chunk of the issue fighting him) is Omega Red, appearing here for the first time since X-Men #19 (apparently, since his encounter with the Soul Skinner, Omega Red has fled to London and is killing people there to keep himself alive).
Secondly, a contingent of the Acolytes (Voight, Katu, Uniscione, & Milan) appear, at first finding Omega Red and pointing him towards Muir Island, then showing up at the end looking for Cable's help in preventing Omega Red from destroying a sizable chunk of life on the planet.
Finally, a good chunk of Excalibur guest stars in this issue as well, including Shadowcat, Moira and Phoenix, with Cable visiting Muir Island to seek out the latter in the wake of the recent confirmations regarding Cable's true parentage. With this issue set before X-Men #30, Cable is looking for his quasi-sister's take on their quasi-parent's upcoming wedding, as well as discussing their past interaction in Excalibur #71 (in which Phoenix was able to "hear" Professor talking to Cable).
There's another hint at the relationship between Phoenix and Mother Askani, as Cable regains consciousness and briefly sees Phoenix as Mother Askani.
With Brigadier Stuart dead, the Weird Happenings Organization (WHO) is shown in this issue to now be led by a Brigadier MacNeil.
Still in search of a regular series artist, M.C. Wyman draws this issue (and the rest of the story). Wyman is an artist I mostly know from his stints on Captain America & Thor around this time, and his work has never terribly impressed me. He has a better grasp of fundamentals than a lot of the other Image clones from this time, but lacks either an engaging style of his own, or the dynamism of the actual Image guys.
The Chronology Corner
This story is set pre-Cyclops/Jean Grey wedding, as Cable & Phoenix discuss attending it. Specifically, for Cable, this takes place between X-Force #34 (so after "Child's Play) and Uncanny X-Men #310. For the various members of Excalibur, it takes place between issues #74 and #75 of that series.
A Work in Progress
This issue reveals that Katu of the Acolytes (the one with only one arm and a big beard) is Inuit. It's also revealed that he has a past with Omega Red (in that Katu blames Omega Red for the deaths of his wife and child), though it's not clear if that happened before or after Omega Red became Omega Red (theoretically, it should be before, as the implication in his first appearance is that Omega Red was put on ice almost immediately after becoming Omega Red).
There's a weird panel in this issue with what appears to be an un-inked image of Cable & Phoenix hovering above an inked one. Not sure if that's a mistake, or some attempt to be artistic (but it seems much more like the former than the latter).
Though the series still doesn't have a regular artist, this is the first issue of the book which feels like a "regular" one. In that, it's not establishing the setting of the series (as the first few issues do, getting Cable back from the future), nor addressing longstanding continuity questions (as the three issues prior to this one do). It's just Cable, fighting some bad guys and trying to save the world. Granted, the bad guys are still X-villains, but they're not exclusively Cable villains, and this issue does guest star Excalibur, but it's not a direct crossover, with the story continuing (and ending) entirely within the pages of this book. As a result, it reads like the kind of issue we'd see from other solo titles featuring characters connected to a team, like Captain America or Iron Man. It exists within the larger shared universe of the characters, but Cable is the protagonist and the story is centered on him. Nothing here is groundbreaking or innovative (or even terribly memorable), but its good to see the series, nine issues in, finally present a sort of traditional "solo series" adventure, one with no bigger aspirations or objectives than to tell an entertaining yarn with the title character at the center of it.
Next week: Uncanny X-Men #311, X-Factor #101 and Wolverine #80.