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Thursday, January 6, 2022

X-amining Cable #39

"All Things Great and Small"

January 1997

In a Nutshell

Cable and the Micronauts defeat Psycho Man!

Writer: Jeph Loeb

Penciler: Ian Churchill

Inker: Scott Hanna

Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft 

Colorist: Mike Thomas

Editor: Mark Powers

Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras


As Psycho Man presses his assault, Commander Rann orders a retreat, leaving Cable behind. But Cable musters enough telepathic strength to send his allies a message saying they need to sever Psycho Man's connection to Vanessa in order to free Kane and reduce Psycho Man's advantage. Domino and the Micronauts proceed to Psycho Man's lab, where the Micronauts destroy his equipment while Domino brings Vanessa back to her senses. After Vanessa rescues Kane, Cable is able to harness everyone's emotions and blast Psycho Man, shutting him down. With Psycho Man defeated, the Micronauts bid farewell to Cable, Domino, Kane and Vanessa, sending them back to Earth. There, Domino and Vanessa make peace with each other, after which Vanessa and Kane ride off in search of an ordinary life. Meanwhile, at the X-Mansion, Moira MacTaggert desperately tries to reach Cable, saying Renee Majcomb is in danger and needs his help! 

Firsts and Other Notables

This is the last issue of the Loeb/Churchill run, and the end of Jeph Loeb's tenure as the series' regular writer, a run which stretches back to issue #15

The final panel features Moira trying to contact Cable to get help for Genoshan ex-pat Renee Majcomb (and a goodbye note from Loeb), who last appeared in this series in issue #22. Her plotline will continue next issue. 

After fighting side-by-side towards the same goal, Vanessa and Domino are able to bury the hatchet this issue (with Vanessa reiterating that her power allows her to fool even telepaths when she copies someone, explaining how she fooled the we-now-know-he's-telepathic Cable back in X-Force). 

With Cable out of commission at the start of the issue, the Micronauts are more heavily featured here than in any previous issue; if you didn't know any better, you'd think Bug was the star of the series. 

A Work in Progress

The Micronauts learn about the recent death of the Fantastic Four. 

Austin's Analysis

Cable's adventures in the Microverse (and Jeph Loeb's tenure on the title) conclude, with an issue that is, oddly enough, the most Micronaut-heavy of the three, as the Micronauts Marvel still maintains publishing rights to do a lot to save the day and turn the tide against Psycho Man while the title character spend most of his time in captivity. That aside, it's perfectly cromulent ending to a pleasantly-routine three-parter, allowing for some closure between Vanessa and Domino while giving Kane and Vanessa something of a happy ending. 

More broadly, the ending of the story speaks to Jeph Loeb's run on the series. Rarely the flashiest of storytellers, Loeb's run (first with artist Steve Skroce, then with Ian Churchill) has a low ceiling, but also, a refreshingly high floor. After the rotating creative teams and slapdash plots that launched the book and lasted well through its first year, Loeb put in the work to make Cable stand on his own as a solo character. While not quite on the level of Wolverine's early Madripoorian adventures as Patch in his solo series, by giving Cable a functioning supporting cast as well as specific conflicts and relationships outside of those found in X-Force, Loeb enabled Cable to truly carry a series as a solo character, all the while providing him a narrative purpose and overall arc beyond "mysterious guy with guns" by driving him into a Campbellian Hero's Journey, with a defined and destined antagonist in Apocalypse. The resulting stories themselves weren't always the most memorable or groundbreaking, but they were reliably competent, structurally sound and relatively easy to follow, plot-wise. That may sound like damning with faint praise, but in this era and with this particular character, it is a genuine accomplishment. Without the work done by Loeb, it's doubtful the series would go on to outlast his run as long as it does (even in a commercial environment which sees X-Man trundle on as long as it does, just on the basis of being an X-book), or that Cable would remain a viable character to this day as something more than a 90s punchline. 

Next Issue

Next week: it's time for Thanksgiving in Generation X #23, while X-Force runs into some long-absent characters in X-Force #62!

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  1. Two years is a good run. Between this and the X-FORCE issues featuring Cable, Loeb has to be one of the more prolific Cable writers, I would think. Most of the later runs, I believe, were fairly short. Could Loeb be second only to Fabian Nicieza in number of Cable stories written (assuming Fabian is number one, which I have a hard time imagining is not the case)??

  2. I much enjoyed Loeb's time on Cable and having Churchill as his artist didn't hurt. I think that Jeph Loeb, more than any other writer, really humanized Cable. Later on Weinberg would write some compelling stories but this run really set the foundation for it.

    Loeb might not be the greatest writer but he took Cable from just being cool to actually compelling. Which meant that this went from being a book I bought because it was an X title to being one I bought because I actually liked the character.

  3. Yeah, I didn’t hate reading this.


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