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Tuesday, November 15, 2022

X-amining Cable #41

"Depths of Time"

March 1997

In a Nutshell
Cable & Bishop battle Sinsear!

Writer: Todd DeZago

Penciler: Steve Crespo

Inker: Scott Hana

Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft

Colorist: Mike Thomas

Separations: GCW

Editor: Mark Powers

Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Responding to an intruder alert, Cable and Bishop arrive at the remains of Cable's former space station Graymalkin, now residing on the ocean floor. Inside, they discover Sinsear. Angry at having lost his humanity in favor of his cybernetic parts, he hopes to use the station to return to his and Cable's future timeline and reclaim his humanity. But Cable and Bishop tell him he needs to earn back his lost humanity, and in the ensuing fight, the time displacement core is damaged. As it starts absorbing energy, Cable worries that it will overload and wipe out all of reality. He devises a means to shut it down, but to do so, someone must go inside the core, giving up their life to do so. Cable intends to do it himself, but Sinsear steps in, willing to sacrifice himself since he started the problem. Inside the core, Sinsear shuts down the overload, saving reality but scattering his atoms throughout the universe in the process. As they return home, Cable and Bishop discuss their respective dark futures. Upon arriving at the X-Mansion, Cable seeks out Storm, and asks her to tell him more about his sister, Rachel. 

Firsts and Other Notables

Sinsear, the cybernetic soldier from Cable's future who was a recurring antagonist in the series' earliest issues, returns in this issue (he was last seen in Cable #5). He also dies in this issue, sacrificing himself to repair Cable's time displacement core before it can destroy reality, and this marks his last appearance to date. To DeZago's credit, the whole "angry that he became a cyborg and lost his humanity" beat was established in his last appearance. 

Bishop, Cable's fellow time-traveler from a dystopic future with a penchant for big guns and a bad attitude, guest stars in this issue. It is more or less the first time the characters have interacted with one another directly since teaming up (along with Wolverine) in "X-Cutioner's Song" (part of which also took place on Graymalkin, not that either of them acknowledge that here). 

The setting of this story is the part of Graymalkin in which the time displacement core (the thing that allowed Cable to travel through time) was housed, which Cannonball jettisoned to ocean floor in X-Force #21. 

While discussing their respective futures (during which Bishop name drops the Summers Rebellion), Cable reveals that in his future, the end of the second millennium was considered a crux point upon which human history turns. He also despairs that in light of recent events, it seems like nothing he is doing in the past will help prevent his future from coming to pass. 

This seemingly prompts Cable to ask Storm about Rachel Summers (currently still lost in the timestream as of Excalibur #75). While this seems like setup for a future story and Rachel will play a role in the series later in its run, I don't recall that this goes anywhere in the near future. 

Bullpen Bulletins

Generation X #25 is previewed in the Bullpen Bulletins page. 

Austin's Analysis

Pairing up Bishop and Cable — two time-travelers who are emblematic, at least in their earliest appearances, of the aesthetic of a certain time in superhero comics — is a no brainer. Yet while that connection likely was at least part of the motivation behind pairing them up in the second act and third acts of "X-Cutioner's Song", they've never really shared a story together, just the pair of them, until now. Unfortunately, after all that time, the end result isn't all that memorable. Bringing back Sinsear to serve as the villain of this story is appreciated, both from a "tap into the continuity of the series" perspective and because he, like the two protagonists, is a time-traveler. 

But Sinsear isn't the most compelling of villains, and while DeZago does his best to imbue the character with some gravitas as he makes his sacrifice, it's hard to muster much concern for this barely-more-than-a-one-off character who goes from "wants to kill Cable" to "willing to sacrifice himself" in the span of twenty odd pages. Worse, Bishop's presence is largely superfluous: we know there's connections between the characters, in-universe, thematically, and in the circumstances and influences informing their respective creations, but the story doesn't do anything with that knowledge. The guest star of this issue could be anyone, and it wouldn't really change. It wouldn't even be that hard to do this story without a guest star at all. Ultimately, Bishop is just there to give Cable someone to talk to, which really isn't the best execution of what is otherwise a team-up with some promising potential.

Next Issue

Black Tom attacks and Chris Bachalo goes nuts in Generation X #25!

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  1. It's always fun to see Dezago on a title, even if it usually is for a short run or a one-off. This could have been a really interesting exploration of possible timelines if given the room to do so. Unfortunately, Operation: Zero Tolerance has to happen so there isn't room for that story.

    I'm not familiar with the interior artist and it's competent but strangely "blocky." It's not an artist I would have followed elsewhere.

  2. I really like this art. It's like Churchill but a little more Animated Series like and not as super muscular and Image-y. I'll have to go re read this issue.

  3. It’s amazing how much younger Cable’s gotten since New Mutants #100.

  4. "But Cable and Bishop tell him he needs to earn back his lost humanity, and in the ensuing fight, the time displacement core is damaged. As it starts absorbing energy, Cable worries that it will overload and wipe out all of reality."

    Oh god, so many questions. What does "earn back your humanity" mean? And stopping him from trying to help himself (how is that harmful to anyone?) seems like kind of a dick move. Also, why is it okay for Cable to keep a time displacement core if it has the potential to WIPE OUT ALL OF REALITY?!?!

    I feel like this wasn't very well thought out.

  5. Storm's assessment of her relationship with Rachel is interesting. Were they ever seen on-panel together once Rachel was written out of Uncanny X-men back in the day?

    1. I mean, they attended Cyclops and Phoenix wedding, but not interacted with each other.


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