Tuesday, April 15, 2008

X-FORCE #36 – July 1994

Genocidal Tendencies
Credits: Fabian Nicieza (writer), Tony Daniel (penciler), Kevin Conrad/Joe Rubinstein/Harry Candelario (inkers), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer), Marie Javins (colorist)

Cable and Domino attempt to fight Nimrod, but have little luck until the rest of X-Force arrives. After Shatterstar and Domino detonate a plasma charge, Siryn uses her sonic scream to temporarily disrupt Nimrod’s programming. While Nimrod repairs himself, Cable uses his techno-organic arm to enter the military complex’s computer system. He connects his mind with the scientists working there and enters Nimrod’s consciousness. The scientists are shocked to discover that Nimrod has sentient awareness. Nimrod explains that when he first came to this era, he downloaded a self-awareness program into the military’s database. His sleeper virus was activated when Project Wideawake began developing new Sentinel bodies, and he began developing the future technology needed to revive himself. Cable and the scientists ask Nimrod to consider the role he plays in defending humans if he exists sixty years before his time. Convinced that he will actually lead to more human deaths if he escalates a human/mutant war early, Nimrod shuts down his own programming. The scientists keep Nimrod’s body and give Cable his internal network as a compromise. Meanwhile, in Kentucky, the Externals visit Cannonball and Boomer.

Continuity Notes
Cable is shown morphing his arm and using it to plug into a computer network. It’s the first time his arm has been shown doing something like this.

For the most part, this is a satisfying conclusion to the two-parter. After reading the first few pages, I was afraid that this would just be an issue-long fight scene, but Nicieza comes up with a clever resolution for the story. If you stay true to Nimrod’s premise that he’s a self-repairing, unstoppable killing machine, there’s no way brute force can convincingly be used to stop him. Having the characters appeal to him logically and trick him into shutting down only works if you have a clever reason for him to do it, and I think Nicieza pulls that off here. Nimrod’s method for reviving himself is also handled well, and it works without stepping over his previous appearances. The scientists in this issue are thankfully treated as three-dimensional characters, and not as psychotic mutant-haters.

Just a few issues after his telepathic abilities were hinted at, Cable is now proficient enough with the powers to link to other people’s minds, enter the Astral Plane, and connect to an artificial intelligence. It’s pretty ridiculous, and it’s an early sign of the major power-up Cable will receive in the mid-90s. I don’t understand the reasoning behind this, since Cable was already an enormously popular character before any of his powers were revealed. The fact that he was a “tough guy” mutant who didn’t even need to use powers was a part of his early appeal, I think. Giving him new powers doesn’t really add anything to the character, and it’s lead to countless attempts to power-down and then re-power him, making Cable’s continuity even more confusing. I wonder if Cable would have maintained more of his popularity if Marvel had left his powers alone during this era.

1 comment:

Teebore said...

I was always partial to the notion that Cable that was extremely powerful, but unable to use it much because so much of his power was always used keeping the TO virus at bay.

(of course, this just left the door open for writers to have him demonstrate extreme power anyways, or ramp him up to the point where he's so powerful, he can fight the virus AND do all this other cool stuff. But at the core, I thought the idea worked).

But then again, I have an acknowledged unnatural affection for the character

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