The Killing Field: In Humanity
Credits: Fabian Nicieza (writer), M. C. Wyman (penciler), Jason Gorder (inker), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer), Marie Javins (colorist)
Cable goes to Muir Island to investigate his mental link with the current Phoenix, Rachel Summers. They discuss their relationship as siblings, while the Acolytes search for Omega Red in London. The Acolytes offer to show Omega Red a way to “retard the flow of the Death Spore Virus” inside his body. On Muir Island, Moira McTaggert is examining Cable’s techno-organic body parts when Omega Red arrives. He knocks her out with a limited exposure to his virus and steals a device from her lab. Cable tries to stop him but Omega Red activates the lab’s “cybernetic damper”, crippling Cable. Later, he’s revived by Phoenix and Kitty Pryde. Pryde tells Cable about Omega Red’s plan to steal the various items he needs to cure the spores that ravage his body. If he cures himself, his virus will then be released into the environment. Kitty reveals to Cable that she got this information from the Acolytes, who also want to stop him.
Cable and Moira McTaggert have already met in the past. She says that when she previously examined him, his mechanics were “standard bionics”, but they now appear to be techno-organic. Cable tells her that he was masking the “synthetic-organic components” of his body from people of this timeline. When Moira asks why half of his body looks like a machine if he can cover all of it in synthetic flesh, he tells her that “it never hurts to remember where you’ve been.”
Rachel Summers is inferred to be Mother Askani when Cable recognizes her as he regains consciousness.
After three months of flashbacks and origin stories, Cable tries to tell a straightforward action story. It’s not particularly interesting, but it’s easier to follow and not as cluttered as the previous issues. Omega Red and the Acolytes are brought in, rather than introducing another new villain for Cable to fight. This early in his series, Cable should have been developing his own rogues gallery, but using established villains fits in with Marvel’s apparent attempts to make the X-books more homogeneous during this time. Nicieza uses Cable’s fight with Omega Red to offer some insight into the character, basically reiterating the idea that Cable fights for peace and not just mindless violence. Wyman’s art fits into the house style of the early ‘90s X-books. The first few pages remind me of Andy Kubert’s early X-Men issues, but the art gets sloppier and uglier towards the end of the issue.
Cable meets Rachel Summers, his sister from another timeline, again. Nicieza has the characters point out the fact that both of them have traumatic childhoods, which is a logical way to build a connection, but it also reminds me of how redundant Cable really is. In terms of personality, he doesn’t really resemble Rachel, but he’s another Summers child from a dystopian future sent to our time to prevent his timeline from happening. When Cable’s origin was finally hashed out, did anyone at Marvel notice that the other Summers child had a virtually identical origin?
There’s another attempt to clear up some of Cable’s continuity during his conversation with Moira McTaggert. The final Liefeld issues of X-Force had Cable with a half-robotic face fixing his mechanical arm with a torque wrench. This left two unanswered questions – if half of his face was covered with synthetic flesh, why doesn’t he cover all of his body with it? And if his arm is actually infected with a techno-organic virus, how can he fix it with tools? Nicieza offers passable answers, but introduces another mystery by giving Cable and Moira a shared backstory. I really have no idea what this was supposed to accomplish. I can understand the commercial reasons for tying a popular character like Wolverine to Cable’s past…but Moira McTaggert? Really? It seems like every X-character had to have some hidden history with at least one other X-character during this era (even Omega Red is revealed to be the killer of one of the Acolytes’ family in this issue).