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Wednesday, August 16, 2023

X-amining Cable #42


April 1997

In a Nutshell
Cable & Storm fight Callisto & Marrow at a Lila Cheney concert. 

Writer: Todd Dezago 

Penciler: Randy Green

Inker: Scott Hana

Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft

Colorist: Mike Thomas

Editor: Bob Harras

In the Swiss Alps, Ch'vayre is visited by Sanctity, who urges him to track down Cable and make him realize it's time for him realize his true destiny. But Ch'vayre doesn't believe Cable is ready yet. Sanctity reminds Ch'vayre of his place. Meanwhile, Cable & Storm are attending a Lila Cheney concert on a tip that Callisto and Marrow are planning on attacking it in the hopes of triggering a mutant uprising. When Callisto and Marrow attack, they cause a panic, but Lila manages to calm the crowd while Cable and Storm move the fight outside. Callisto and Marrow escape, and Cable heads back inside to find the bomb they said they planted while Storm continues to search for their foes. Cable finds the bomb and Storm finds Callisto, who reveals the bomb will detonate once Lila is done singing. Cable telepathically alerts Lila, and she teleports the bomb to the other side of the galaxy. Cable and Storm are happy they prevented a disaster, but Cable remains certain a genetic war is on its way. 

Firsts and Other Notables

This marks the beginning of the short run of Randy Green, another artist doing a semi-manga Joe Mad riff at this time, as the series regular penciler; he will stick around through issue #47. 

Ch'vayre, the servant of Apocalypse/nanny to Stryfe from the Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix and Askani'son miniseries, appears in the opening of this issue (though it's not really explicitly made clear that's who it is). This is the beginning of a subplot that will run through the series, culminating in issue #53, in which Ch'vayre tries to goad Cable into a final battle with Apocalypse. Confusingly, this Ch'vayre is from earlier in his own personal timeline than the one we've seen previously (who was killed by Stryfe in Askani'son #4). Eventually it's revealed that this younger Ch'vayre was sent back in time by Madame Sanctity to try and prevent Apocalypse's rise. He will ultimately fail, and get locked into hibernation which will re-indoctrinate him to Apocalypse's ways by the time he emerges in the future once again for his role in Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix. 

Sanctity herself, making the rounds of late, appears in Cable #42 as well. 

Ch'vayre indirectly refers to Cable as the "Gatherer of the Twelve", which is presumably a reference to the long gestating Twelve subplot and which, like most references to the Twelve subplot, doesn't really matchup with what we get when we eventually get the story of the Twelve told

Marrow was revealed to have survived her apparent death at Storm's hands in the final issue of Storm's '96 limited series, but in this issue, Storm (and Cable) learns of her survival. Here, she is working with Callisto to attack humans for vague pro-mutant reasons. She'll next appear in Uncanny X-Men #346, the beginning of a slow transition in her character which will ultimately lead to her joining the X-Men. 

A Work in Progress

In a nice use of continuity, Cable & Storm are at Lila's concert thanks to a tip from Thornn, the sister of former X-Force/MLF member Feral, who pops up by the end of the issue to help stop the attack from Marrow and Callisto. 

The Grim 'n' Gritty 90s

Cable opens the issue doing what he describes as "moshing" (look it up, kids!), but seems more like simple crowd-surfing.  

Storm says that her duel with Callisto occurred many months ago, while it's been "only weeks" since she seemingly killed Marrow and that's...a lot of story to have crammed into a period of time less than one year.  

Bullpen Bulletins

Here's a shot of the Marvel Online blurb from the Bullpen Bulletins page, including instructions on how to find them on AOL (look it up, kids!). 

Austin's Analysis

On the one hand, Todd Dezago is doing some interesting things here. Despite being an ostensible fill-in writer, with the scene between Ch'vayre and Sanctity which opens the issue, he's introducing a new arc for Cable, something which helps Cable's "genetic war" comments at the end sound more like a specific (if cryptic) reference than a more generic "things are always bad" cliffhanger. With the benefit of hindsight, we know that the return of Marrow is relatively important — in a few months' time, she'll have a spotlight issue in Uncanny X-Men before moving into a larger role in the series next year — and Dezago seems to have done his homework regarding her last appearances. His use of Lila Cheney is also smart, tapping into her history as someone attempting to use shared experience (music) to build a bridge between humans and mutants, while also deploying her mutant power to good effect. 

On the other hand, good lord is Cable #42 a generic comic. Bits of X-lore and future setup aside, nothing that happens in it is germane to the title character. Storm's connection to Callisto & Marrow explains her presence in the story, but Cable is essentially piggybacking on her relevance (drawing on their recently-burgeoning relationship in this title, grated). Worse, none of the dialogue spouted by the characters is in any way unique, just the usual tough guy platitudes, "I can't/but I must" internal conflicts, and villainous clich├ęs that could be lifted and placed into dozens of other characters' speech bubbles. Their "bomb that goes off when the singing stops" aside, there's no twists or turns to Callisto and Marrow's scheme (and really, the bomb's gimmick inspires more questions than anything, like "how does that work, exactly?"). Plus, while Callisto has never exactly been friendly towards humanity, her villainy has always been more about protecting mutants than attacking humans and born of her own self-loathing; here, she's ranting & raving like a Silver Age Magneto. All in all, it makes for a fairly bland reading experience. While Dezago has clearly done his homework, and I can appreciate that, the meat and potatoes of the story is ultimately too generic to get past.  

Next Issue

Jubilee: captive of Bastion in Generation X #26!

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  1. Due in part I suppose to the relative minimalism of the faces, Callisto seems to be going back and forth during the issue between her original look and the result of having been “prettified” by Masque.

  2. I still type in Notblogx all the time and it autofills and I check his site to see if anything new is there related to the X-men just out of habit since I went there for so many years and I'm always a bit sad that it isn't what it used to be. I'm finding myself doing the same here. I can't believe the last post was August. So many great memories here but life, the scope of all the books, etc. get in the way of so many comic related things.

    1. I can't believe it, either, and I hate that it's true. I'm planning on getting back in some kind of groove after the first of the year, and have made some workload changes to that effect that I hope will help me keep it up. So keep typing us into that browser every once in awhile!


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