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Friday, August 7, 2020

X-amining Cable #28

"Tick… Tick… Tick!"
February 1996

In a Nutshell
The secret history of Genosha is revealed

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Penciler: Wilfred
Inkers: Scott Hanna & Rachael Hawkey
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Adam Walenta
Editor: Mark Powers
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

His secret lab discovered, Sugar Man decides to cut his losses and triggers a nuclear self-destruct, one which will decimate the entire island. On his way out, he's confronted by Cable, who attempts to read his mind but is disoriented when doing so. Meanwhile, Dark Beast works to take advantage of Sugar Man's distraction and tries to steal some of his files, but Sugar Man's computers shut down before he gets them all. Back in Genosha, Sugar Man is confronted by Phillip Moreau, who demands to know Sugar Man's history with Moreau's father. Sugar Man admits he gave Phillip's father the information to create the Mutate bonding process, then decides to kidnap Phillip, teleporting them both away. Cable orders Pipeline to evacuate along with Jenny Ransom, and when they arrive at the Press Gang base, Pipeline dejectedly tells his teammates it's time they reevaluate everything they believe about the war, given what he's learned about the mutant Sugar Man's involvement in their country. Back at the lab, Cable and Domino work to decipher the password that will stop the self-destruct sequence; remembering his brief glimpse into Sugar Man's mind, Cable types"sugar", stopping the detonation. Just then, Mr. Sinister appears, revealing he orchestrated Cable's arrival in order to flush out Sugar Man, and points him in the direction of Nate Grey, before sending Cable & Domino home. He then contacts Threnody as he discovers one of Sugar Man's crude drawings of Nate, whom he finds very reminiscent of Cable.

Firsts and Other Notables
Teased in previous issues, it is confirmed here that Sugar Man is responsible for the development of Genosha's process for the creation of its Mutate slaves, having traded that information to Philip Moreau's father, the original Genegineer, in exchange for being left to his own devices. Of the two big "changes made in the past by characters from Age of Apocalypse" it's arguably the dumbest, since Sugar Man was never really presented as being much of a geneticist type prior to this (on top of the whole idea being entirely needless and adding nothing beyond a weak attempt to prop up a newer character by tying him to an existing plotline). If Dark Beast was put in this role, it would make some sense (but still be pointless), but he's busy getting retconned into messing around with the Morlocks (another stupid retcon, albeit a slightly less needless one in that it at least provides an explanation for an dangling plot thread). 

Phillip Moreau disappears in this issue, a captive of Sugar Man. Jenny Ransome acts like its a big deal, but he won't show up again until Magneto Rex #1 (after Magneto has been put in charge of Genosha), alongside Jenny, with little explanation beyond "well, we're in Genosha, so that means Philip Moreau & Jenny Ransome have to appear".

There's a narrative conceit to this issue in which the whole thing is ostensibly supposed to take place in the course of the sixty second countdown Sugar Man sets for the detonation of his lab (which is why some of the page excerpts have big numbers on them), but it doesn't really work, largely because everything that happens would have to take more than sixty seconds (like, it would take Sugar Man more than the three seconds which count down on the page where he reveals the truth to Phillip just to say all the words he says).

A Work in Progress
Mr. Sinister refers to Sugar Man's work in Genosha as a "second perversion" of his work, a reference to the experiments Dark Beast conducted on the Morlocks (that being the first perversion, presumably). 

Sugar Man equates his work building up Genosha to his work in the Core in “Age of Apocalypse”, which seems like an effort to explain what business Sugar Man has coming up with the Mutate bonding process (instead of, you know, Dark Beast), which is appreciated, I guess, but also seems like a reach, both in terms of the connection and also, Sugar Man always seemed more like a boss/foreman type than the person who actually created the Core.

So Dark Beast has no files on Beast and has never heard of him, but Sugar Man apparently does, and it isn't until this issue, twenty years after hanging out on this Earth, that Dark Beast decides to try and hack them.

Mr. Sinister admits to being responsible for redirecting Cable & Domino to Genosha upon their return from the future between issues #25 and #26. 

With Sugar Man rousted, Mr. Sinister tells Cable the Mutate bonding process will never be used again. 

He also taunts Cable about not knowing Domino’s real name and with the existence of Nate Grey.

Sinister’s conversation with Threnody in X-Man #12 is shown here from Sinister’s perspective.

Austin's Analysis
The three part "Cable in Genosha" story concludes with the big (?) reveal that Sugar Man is the true power behind the mutate process in the country, and while Loeb puts some effort into directly connecting Cable to the events of the story via the involvement of Mr. Sinister and trying to link Cable's treatment of Domino here as to his interactions with Aliya in issues #24-25 (which largely just amounts to Cable trying to convince Domino to evacuate with Pipeline & Jenny Ransome), it's nevertheless hard to shake the feeling that for much of this story, Cable was effectively a guest star in his own title. With little direct personal connection to Genosha (and no references to the one time he'd previously been there, during "X-Tinction Agenda", not that he contributed significantly to that story either), Cable operates mostly as an observer/advisor throughout this story, participating in the action but rarely driving it and reacting to it only in an immediate, perfunctory manner. The Sugar Man reveal does little to push Cable forward as a character, and he does little in this story that couldn't have been done by nearly any other X-Men character. Combine that with the fact that, like many stories of this era, it feels about an issue too long, and that the art team is wildly inconsistent across all three chapters, and the whole thing feels like the easy-to-overlook & largely superfluous fill-in story it is.

Next Issue
Next week, another trip back to Cable's future in Askani'son #1-4!

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  1. I remember really liking this issue at the time due to the tension of the countdown, which I thought was pretty effective, even though I still knew it did not make logical sense for all that stuff to happen within 60 seconds. It became a joke with me every time I saw it used in TV and movies afterwards.

  2. The cover logo looks really cool. As far as 90s effects go, it’s aged pretty nicely.

  3. sugar-man(Sugar Man) can do whatever a npc can..retcons a thread of horrendous size(without impact)..boy! how the past-times fly.

    watch out!


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