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Thursday, August 26, 2021

X-amining Cable #37

"True Lies"

November 1996

In a Nutshell

Cable & Domino reunite with Kane & Vanessa as they're targeted by Psycho Man

Writer: Jeph Loeb

Penciler: Ian Churchill

Inker: Scott Hanna 

Letterer: RS/Comicraft/AD

Colorist: Mike Thomas

Separations: Graphic Color Works

Editor: Bob Harras


G.W. Bridge leads a SHIELD contingent into the Weapon X facility in Canada, which has been abandoned and its files ransacked, which Bridge worries may mean someone is targeting former Weapon X subjects, including his former colleague Kane. Meanwhile, Cable and Domino arrive in San Francisco and head to an old theater where they find Kane and Vanessa. Kane explains how the pair tried to live a normal life, but someone found out they were mutants and targeted them, burning the theater. Now, Kane wants Cable to use his telepathic abilities to find whomever did it. However, all four begin acting strangely towards one another: Domino & Vanessa begin to feel intense rage towards each other, while Kane becomes wracked with doubt and Cable with fear. Just then, the cause of their heightened emotions emerges: the villain Psycho Man, who is seeking Kane's bionic parts in the hopes that the future technology will help him conquer a universe. He then disappears with Kane, and shortly thereafter, a massive ship suddenly appears in the theater announcing it's programmed to find Kane. As Cable & Domino debate boarding it, Kane appears, revealing the "Kane" with whom Psycho Man absconded was Vanessa in disguise. Vowing not to abandon her, he enters the ship, followed by Cable & Domino. 

Firsts and Other Notables

Kane and Vanessa, both of whom appeared earlier in the series, return in this issue; they were last seen in Wolverine #88, working out the theater which is (presumably) the same one as the setting of this issue. 

The villain of this story is Psycho Man, a Fantastic Four villain who uses a computer tablet to manipulate people's emotions (specifically anger, fear and doubt). He hails from the Microverse, the sub-atomic realm which is the home of the Micronauts (Psycho Man is actually a really little guy in a big Psycho Man suit); this issue kicks off a three part story that will find Cable and Domino journeying to the Microverse and teaming up with the Micronauts (at least, the original ones to whom Marvel still has publishing rights), which also represents Jeph Loeb's final arc on the book. 

A Work in Progress

Bridge turns up in this issue investigating a disturbance at the Weapon X facility (the issue doesn't make it clear, but the idea is, Psycho Man ransacked Weapon X before he found Kane in San Fran), though he's operating as their "Mutant Affairs" agent and not the director like he was in the "Onslaught" tie-in issue of Punisher

Narration states that when Vanessa is impersonating someone, not even telepaths can tell the difference, which seems like a way to retroactively explain how Cable didn't detect the ruse all the time she was posing as Domino early in X-Force (now that we know Cable has telepathic abilities, something that wasn't the case when the stories were first published). 

The Grim 'n' Gritty 90s

Domino carries a big sci-fi 90s gun in a duffle bag. 

Human/Mutant Relations

Graydon Creed's campaign slogan is eerily prescient, but a bit long-winded. 

Austin's Analysis

Jeph Loeb's efforts to make Cable function more like a traditional solo series, and not just a spin-off of X-Force/the larger X-universe, continues with this issue. In Kane & Vanessa, he brings back characters who were essentially supporting characters earlier in the series (especially Kane, who opened the book as its de facto second lead), characters who have a rich and complicated history with Cable and Domino. And with Psycho Man, he breaks the series out of the X-Book cul-de-sac, featuring a classic Marvel villain with stronger ties to the Fantastic Four than anyone within the X-Men universe, while setting the whole thing against the backdrop of Graydon Creed's campaign and the rising tide of anti-mutant sentiment that functions as the connective tissue of the X-books at this time keeps it from being entirely removed from that larger narrative (which isn't a bad thing). Ultimately, the focus on Kane and Vanessa as Cable and Domino battle a villain whose connection to the larger X-world is more thematic than plot-based is more about telling a story relevant to Cable the series rather than contributing a chapter to the latest X-plot du jour, which for the time being at least, is a welcome change.  

Next Issue

Next week: Excalibur #103 and the Pryde and Wisdom miniseries!

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  1. There seemed to be an effort around this time to get the X-books interacting with the larger Marvel Universe a lot more often. You had stuff like Psycho-Man here, Shang-Chi and the Kingpin coming up in X-MEN in a few months, Howard the Duck in GENERATION X, and, in X-MAN, Nate teaming up with Spider-Man (also shown in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN once or twice) and fighting the Abomination.

    One or two of these, and I would think it was coincidence -- but all of them happening around the same time reads like a real, concerted effort -- which I loved. The X-Men had been way, way too insular, even going back to the later Claremont days, for way too long. It was great to see them branch out like this. Not all the stories were great ones, but I appreciated that they tried.

    1. It definitely seems intentional, and I too appreciate the effort. Part of me wonders if it's a Heroes Reborn thing - with the Avengers and FF "away", their villains are up for grabs, so to speak. Not that appearances by Howard the Duck and Spider-Man have anything to do with that, but maybe there was a general sense that there was more "room" for the X-Books in the wider Marvel Universe at this point in time that was facilitated by Heroes Reborn.

    2. Y'know, I hadn't thought about it, but that makes sense. I also wonder if Marvel's implosion had something to do with it. With a bunch of books cancelled due to the bubble burst, there were suddenly a lot of characters -- heroes and villains -- floating around with no homes.

      Certainly that's part of what made THUNDERBOLTS possible! And HEROES FOR HIRE too, I guess, as a team of "leftover" heroes.

    3. If Onslaught happened in the late oughts there would have been an epilogue one-shot explaining the new status quo and the following 616 comics would have had that banner on the top for a few months, i. "The Initiative" or "Dark Reign". Which, during that time, could have been really interesting. I would love to have seen the MU struggling with the lack of the big teams and how heavily that would have weighed on the remaining heroes. Granted, Thunderbolts cover that to some degree but it always feels like a missed opportunity. I think ivI' said that before.

    4. Drew, I do agree THUNDERBOLTS was a bit of a missed opportunity, but for me that's because it didn't begin until six months after ONSLAUGHT: MARVEL UNIVERSE! "Heroes Reborn" was already about halfway through its run when T-BOLTS debuted. So you only got nine issues of the group "covering" for the Avengers before the heroes returned and the T-Bolts were unmasked in #10.

      Mind you, THUNDERBOLTS was my favorite Marvel title for that first year, and it remains one of my all-time favorite series, at least for the first 50 or so issues, so I don't have many complaints -- but I do wish the initial premise could've lasted longer. I think I mentioned in another comment, probably on ONSLAUGHT: MARVEL UNIVERSE, that purely for story reasons, I wish "Heroes Reborn" had been extended for another year. I think two years of the Marvel Universe functioning without its greatest heroes would've given us a lot of great material.

      But if that had happened, the stars might not have lined up to give us Busiek and Perez on AVENGERS, so again -- I can't complain much!

  2. I can’t believe Creed’s slogan is “Make America Safe Again.” The connections to present day have been crazy but that is just eery.


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