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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

X-amining Cable #14

"Feat & Loathing Part 3"
August 1994

In a Nutshell
Cable & Lee battle S'ym

Writer: Glenn Herdling
Penciler: Steve Skroce
Inker: Mike Sellers
Lettering: Starkings/Comicraft
Colorist: Marie Javins
Editor: Lisa Patrick
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
After quickly dispatching D'Spayre, Belasco tells Cable & Lee that he's brought him to the Nexus of All Realities. It has been growing of late, encroaching on his realm of Limbo, and he believes Cable can help stop it. He tells him that the same individual who once corrupted Cable's mother and tried to forge a link between Earth & Limbo is using the Nexus to try again. Meanwhile, Cannonball & Siryn try to track down Cable, but can't locate him anywhere on Earth. Back in the Nexus, Belasco leverages Lee in order to get Cable's help, at which point S'ym reveals himself. He's pleased to meet the son of the Goblin Queen, but when he threatens Cable, Cable fights back, eventually gaining the upper hand via his mutant powers. He seemingly kills S'ym, at which point Belasco sends Lee & Cable back to Earth.

Firsts and Other Notables
S'ym makes his second "return from the dead, get put back down in the course of the issue" appearance since the end of "Inferno" (the last was Excalibur #39, the end of the weird Dr. Doom/Darkoth Limbo story). His next such appearance will be in X-Men Unlimited #19.


Similarly, this marks the end of Lee's brief foray in this series; her next appearance will be in X-Men Unlimited #9.

The weird one-off logo from last issue is used in the title of this issue.


Oddly, the story in this issue doesn't have a subtitle, whereas the previous two parts did.

The Chronology Corner
Cannonball & Siryn appear between X-Men #30 and X-Force #35 (issues #35-37 of X-Force take place between this issue and the next).

A Work in Progress
Belasco says D’Spayre is a product of the Nexus of All Realities; I have no idea if that’s consistent with the character’s origins (but I suspect it’s not).


He also says that Limbo is a corner of the Nexus.

We also get a fun Steve Skroce-drawn recap of “Inferno”.


After the recap and Belasco telling Cable he’s the key to stopping (or facilitating) the expansion of the Nexus, Lee hilariously asks herself how she keeps hooking up with these people.


In another nice moment, S’ym is intrigued to learn Cable is the son of the Goblin Queen.


He also claims, as such, Cable’s death will still break down the walls between Earth & Limbo.

Cable pulls a Stan Lee and tells S’ym he was defeated telepathically after he telekinetically impales him (which is the same way he killed Senyaka in issue #12).


The issue ends abruptly with Cable & Lee seemingly teleporting out of the Everglades, despite Cable being expressly unable to do so in issue #12.


The Cable Guy
As in the Cyclops & Phoenix mini, Belasco offers up a meaning for Cable’s name, calling him a conduent between human & mutant, past & future, and possibly science & magic.


Austin's Analysis
Following on from the previous issue, which had some fun playing with Lee Forester's history with the X-Men (specifically, D'Spayre & Cable's father), this issue uses as its starting point Cable's parental legacy. While the events of "Fathers & Sons" in issue #6-8 confirmed Cable's familial relationships once and for all, most of the explorations of those relationships in the wake of that story have focused on Cyclops. This story is the first to instead explore where Cable fits within the legacy of his birth mother - Madelyne Pryor - who, like Cyclops, was also once willing to sacrifice her child (albeit for far more sinister reasons, and not for Cable's overall well-being). As a result, this issue reads almost like a quasi-epilogue to "Inferno", as S'ym (the demon who corrupted Cable's mother) turns up to finish what she started.

The end result is far from perfect. The relationship between Belasco, S'ym, Limbo and the Nexus (and what each does or doesn't want) doesn't really hold up to much scrutiny. The final confrontation between S'ym & Cable basically amounts to a few panels of the two trading punches before Cable telekinetically impales the demon, and while that makes for some nice symmetry with issue #12 (and underscores Cable more...blunt approach to solving problems), it's something of an ignominious (and abrupt) end for a character who was a fairly significant heavy across multiple books circa "Inferno". Lee more or less gets lost in the story (with her biggest contribution being, unfortunately, used as a hostage). And the whole thing could have used another issue (or even two) to breath (as evidenced by the way it just sort of...stops when it runs out of pages), to explore more fully Cable's legacy as the Son of the Goblin Queen and his feelings for a mother who became so corrupted she was willing to kill him to effectively end the world.

But what we've got is still fun. Madelyne gets referenced so rarely, any mention of her is appreciated, and it's good to see Cable dealing with that side of his family history for a change. Skroce's artwork, just one issue on from the start of his run, is much improved (likely helped by being inked by only one inker in this one), showing a particular adeptness for facial expressions. And having too much story for one issue isn't the worst problem to have. Bottom line, for all its faults, this issue is a blast just for exploring, however briefly, Cable's little-referenced connection to "Inferno" and the larger Limbo mythology, and the legacy of his even-more-rarely referenced birth mother.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, Marvel gets into the ultra high end trading card market with Unstacking the Deck: Marvel Flair '94. Next week, Cyclops & Phoenix return from their honeymoon in X-Men (vol. 2) #35.

8 comments:

  1. I got this during my 'Inferno' fanboyism before the turn-of-the-century. Unlike UXM# 303, with its inaccurate depictions of Illyana, I do appreciate CABLE#14's faithful depiction of the Inferno storyline; the costuming (four versions of Illyana's Darkchylde form- Bill S.' human with horns form, Blevins' human-armored form, full-demon/full-armored form, and full-demon form), the characters (Gosamyr is included), etc.

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    1. The inclusion of Gosamyr is a nice touch. Heck, sometimes even I forget she was around for "Inferno".

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  2. // Belasco says D’Spayre is a product of the Nexus of All Realities; I have no idea if that’s consistent with the character’s origins //

    Yeah. Man-Thing is not my area of expertise, but I know Gerber established the Nexus in his swamp and Claremont, who took over the series from Gerber, introduced D’Spayre in a Spidey/Man-Thing ish of Marvel Team-Up with Byrne, so there’s at least some narrative association. What his exact ties to the Nexus per that story are, though, and whether this is just a reference or a revelation, will require dialing it up on Unlimited.

    // After the recap and Belasco telling Cable he’s the key to stopping (or facilitating) the expansion of the Nexus, Lee hilariously asks herself how she keeps hooking up with these people. //

    Belasco doesn’t mention Scott by name and… I guess Madelyne’s never came up when Lee was with Magneto in that year or so prior to X-Men #200? (Which’d make sense. “Oh, Lee Forrester… You’re the woman Scott met right after Jean died and then left right before meeting the woman he married who looks exactly like Jean!”) Unless we’re supposed to assume that Cable’s parentage is in fact dawning on Lee here and she’s just taking it in stride.

    // The issue ends abruptly with Cable & Lee seemingly teleporting out of the Everglades //

    No kidding. I straight up am not sure whether they’re each being whisked away to wherever they wish because Nexus of All Realities, or it’s just a confusing artistic flourish, or what. Cable doesn’t use the word “bodyslide” and he makes it sound like they’re going to different places, so it honestly didn’t even dawn on me that it could be intentional teleportation on his part.

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    1. MTU #68 ends similarly with Dakimh the Enchanter and Jennifer Kale vanishing in the same fashion after D'Spayre has been beaten. D'Spayre's cabin/tower featured in that story too.

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    2. Interesting. Coincidence, or deep continuity cut from Herdling?

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    3. "Mayhap we three shall meet again some day" as the farewell words in MTU vs. "I'm sure I'll be seeing you around" here certainly don't feel coincidential. There's absolutely no reason why they should disappear here except the call-back; in MTU Spider-Man is left like a moron in middle of the swamp with the Man-Thing as Dakimh and Jennifer leave and go to their mystic businesses.

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  3. There was a panel that seemed to be relettered where Cable seems to say that Maddie's actions as the Goblin Queen weren't her fault because she was being manipulated.
    "Belasco says D’Spayre is a product of the Nexus of All Realities; I have no idea if that’s consistent with the character’s origins (but I suspect it’s not)."
    In Dr. Strange 33, the Dweller in Darkness claimed he created D'Spayre- I don't think that's inconsistent with him being a product of the Nexus.

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    1. I tried looking it up a plenty and found no explicit mention tying D'Spayre to the Nexus... but that's maybe a technicality when he is mostly always hanging around in Everglades with Man-Thing. His cabin/tower are two different realities (not to mention the hallucinations of his victims) so his business by definition probably is Nexus business.

      Man-Thing was a savior of sorts in the Zhered-Na's vision, and Dakihm and Jennifer Kale have serious Zhered-Na cred to their name, and MTU #68 certainly presents D'Spayre as a specific enemy of those two at his first appearance, so... if Man-Thing is a product of the Nexus, it's not too far-fetched that D'Spayre would in a way be.

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