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Friday, February 19, 2021

X-amining Cable #33

"Never is a Very Short Time"

July 1996

In a Nutshell

Cable battles Post! 

Writer: Jeph Loeb

Penciler: Ian Churchill & Rick Leonardi

Finishes: Scott Hanna

Letterer: RS & Comicraft

Colorist: Mike Thomas

Editor: Mark Powers

Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras


Cable, hoping to find some way to control the techno-organic virus raging since his encounter with Nate Grey, is examined by Beast. Shortly thereafter, Cable catches up with Storm, who asks him to read her mind for any clues pertaining to Onslaught as a result of her recent encounter with Post. He does, but finds her memories of Post blocked. Just then, he learns that Blaquesmith's headquarters has been firebombed. Arriving on the scene, Cable is attacked by Post, who Cable recognizes as a mutant he once saved from the super-villain Mandarin. As they fight, Cable finally pieces together the truth of Onslaught's identity, but finds himself overwhelmed by Post. However, Post, remembering what he owes Cable, is unable to kill him, and instead leaves him, badly injured, lying on the street. 

Firsts and Other Notables

This issue reveals something of the history between Cable & Post (as well as the fact that Post's real name is "Tremaine"), establishing that in his mercenary days, Cable, alongside GW Bridge, fought the Mandarin, who was in the process of performing some kind of experiment on the future Post. 

Cable, who ends up telepathically bonding, to some extent, with Post, then saves his life, helping him escape from the Mandarin. Post of course declares he'll never forget what Cable did for him, which is juxtaposed against the present day scenes of Post trying to kill Cable on Onslaught's orders. 

It's also confirmed that it was Post who blew up Blaquesmith's ship/base/home last issue (Blaquesmith will turn up alive and well again, though it won't be for another twenty odd issues; Loeb, seemingly, intended for the character to have died in the explosion last issue). 

Footnotes about Beast actually being Dark Beast, one of which appears in this issue, are the new “the Danger Room was damaged in Uncanny X-Men #143” (though this one incorrectly points to X-Men Unlimited #11 instead of #10).

Dark Beast is excited to get a sample of Cable’s DNA, though, once again, this doesn’t really go anywhere.

The issue concludes with a one-page Cable/Domino pinup by Rick Leonardi; Leonardi is credited as a co-artist on this issue, but the pinup is the only thing which jumps out as specifically his work, so either that one page earned him the credit (usually, pinup artists don't get credited in the masthead alongside whomever drew the rest of the issue), or he filled-in on some other pages and Scott Hana's finishes blended his work to the point that it was indistinguishable from Churchill's. 

A Work in Progress

Storm and Cable briefly catch up, discussing Tyler’s death and referencing the Storm limited series (though Storm isn't wearing the new costume or hairstyle she adopted in that series), while continuing the quiet “will they/won’t they” thing Loeb has been developing.

She also asks Cable to read her mine to pull out any info about Post from their encounter in X-Men #50, but he discovers Post was telepathically shielded so no memory of his physical appearance remains in Storm’s mind (Storm also says there’s a feeling of impending war at the mansion).

Post, explaining that he signals the coming onslaught, says that he is a “a sentry, the support upon which a new order will be built”, which as explanations for names using generic nouns go, is about as good as Cable being a cable between the past and the future.

Cable seems to piece together that Onslaught is Xavier, though his logic in coming to that conclusion isn't entirely clear. 

Onslaught himself appears briefly as a disembodied head to check in with Post. 

Austin's Analysis

Like X-Force #56, this is another remarkably unremarkably effort from Jeph Loeb. We can (and should!) laugh all we want about Post and how he never became a thing (despite the X-office trying to make him a thing during this crossover), but that's not Loeb's fault (at least, not entirely), and the effort put in here to connect Cable & Post is, again, unremarkable, in that, it is textbook comic book writing. While the inclusion of the Mandarin in Cable (and Post's) backstory is...random, Past Cable's devotion to saving Post and Post's subsequent gratitude is touching, and helps both underscore the tragedy (as is intended) in the present day events as Post is now set about killing the person who saved him years ago and provide an explanation for the plot-requirement of Cable not, you know, being killed off after he's beaten by Post. 

Again, no one is shedding any genuine tears on behalf of the time traveling soldier with a metal arm and the big blue bad guy with weird tiles all over his skin who met one time (while fighting a Yellow Peril super-villain with magic alien dragon rings), but this is the kind of base-level emotional hooks these stories need to, if not excel, then at least function as a basic story, with emotional stakes, however minor, for the characters (in a lot of ways, it reminds me of how Claremont was able to, in just a few passing lines of narration, make readers care about random one-off characters, however fleetingly, which injected their usually-immediate deaths with a bit of pathos and thus made the story feel slightly richer), and Loeb manages to create those hooks here. This whole backstory involving Post is, at best, a footnote in the now-sprawling history of Cable, but the simple tragedy at the heart of their conflict in this issue is nevertheless effective & appreciated, especially amongst all the sturm und drang (and, in some cases, outright nonsense...) of the mounting crossover. 

Next Issue

Next week, it all begins in Onslaught: X-Men as Onslaught - and a traitor - stand revealed to the X-Men. 

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