Monday, November 17, 2008

CABLE #30 – April 1996

For Every Action…
Credits: Jeph Loeb (writer), Ian Churchill (penciler), Scott Hanna (inker), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (lettering), Mike Thomas & Malibu’s Hues (colors)

Summary: Eight hundred years in the past, a time-displaced Dane Whitman (the Avengers’ Black Knight), takes a group of crusaders to a “wicked” tomb in the Swiss Alps. In the present, Exodus returns to the tomb to recuperate. Nearby, Cable flies overhead, searching for X-Man. He’s suddenly assaulted with X-Man’s memories. Below, X-Man and Threnody travel through the snowstorm. X-Man is suddenly overcome with memories of Cable’s childhood. Cable follows their trail, and discovers that Blaquesmith has been secretly following him. X-Man leads Threnody inside Cable’s Swiss cabin, claiming that he feels psychically drawn to it. Cable enters, and tries to explain to X-Man that coexisting so close together is hurting both of them. Suspicious, X-Man lashes out against him. He sees Cable’s face and realizes that they are the same person, but he refuses to stop his attack. Blaquesmith enters, and the presence of another telepath makes X-Man even angrier. When Cable tries to calm him down, X-Man’s powers explode, destroying the cabin. Later, as X-Man awakens in the snow, he’s greeted by Exodus.

Continuity Notes: Exodus is presumably recovering from his fight with Holocaust, from X-Men #42 and #43. According to the narration, the tomb is where “a portion of the power that created him remains.” I’ve heard some people claim before that placing the Black Knight eight hundred years ago is a continuity error, but I’m not familiar enough with his character to really know. Uncanny X-Men #307 revealed that Black Knight recognized Exodus from somewhere, so at least some of this story must’ve been worked out in advance.

Review: If X-Man hadn’t already reached the point of self-parody as a character, surely this issue would’ve put him over the top. Like every other X-Man story, we see him reacting irrationally and lashing out in anger at people who aren’t threatening him, as the story climaxes with his powers exploding. Didn’t anyone at Marvel notice that the same thing happens in every X-Man story? I guess this one is supposed to be a bigger deal since he’s meeting his counterpart from this reality, but that certainly doesn’t make the story less predictable. It’s almost as if Jeph Loeb had an X-Man drinking game worked out in his head, and he felt an obligation to make sure all of the standard X-Man plot elements made it into each story. Adding Exodus and Black Knight does at least create the potential for something interesting to happen later, but so far it’s all setup. The rest of the story consists of a lot of large images of Cable and X-Man wandering in the snow, which strangely enough limits the amount of space that’s used for the later fight scene between the pair. X-Man’s powers exploding just get a large panel, instead of the standard full splash page, which is surely a shame. This isn't very engaging on its own merits, but the knowledge that X-Man is behaving in exactly the same irrational manner he always does almost makes it comically bad.

Mapping the Mission

Credits: Jeph Loeb (writer), Eric Battle (penciler), Art Thibert (inker), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (lettering)

Summary: Blaquesmith recaps Cable’s life, from the time of his birth to his childhood in the future, to his return to this timeline as a mercenary.

Review: This is just a partial recap of Cable’s origin (at three pages, it actually pushes this issue’s page count to twenty-three pages). The art’s atrocious, but I did appreciate this backup at the time since I had lost track of the various aspects of Cable’s heavily retconned past when this issue was released. It’s interesting that even a backup story that tries to piece together Cable’s past has no explanation for why exactly he was working as a mercenary before he mentored the New Mutants. The idea that Cable came to this time to train the new External, Cannonball, is also skipped over, which amuses me.


x-man75 said...

I think the main point you're missing with X-Man is that he is always going to be suspicious of everyone, thanks to his upbringing in the AOA world, as well as his betrayal by Mr. Sinister, which cost him his father figure(Forge). I always felt that Nate had plenty of reason to attack first and then ask questions later, thanks to his messed up days in the AOA.

Then again, being a devout fan of Nate, regardless of how poorly his comics began to get, I'm kind of obligated to defend his actions. Nate Grey, the idea always had so much potential, but his writers never seemed to know what to do with him, especially Terry Kavanagh.

Granted, Nate always seemed to act irrationally, but like I said, if you consider his past, his actions aren't exactly that unwarrented.

Take Wolverine for example. Wolvie to this day still goes feral on occasion, but it is accepted as a character flaw, thanks to all the crap he's put up with throughout his life. Like Wolvie, Nate also has rage issues thanks to his upbringing, or lack there of.

Seangreyson said...

I do have to agree on X-man. It makes sense that he'd be suspicious of everyone. Also doesn't help that in general, almost everyone he meets does end up trying to attack him (heck Blaquesmith is about to attack in the next issue).

Of course the real problem for the comic is that there doesn't seem to be any direction for him. Through a lot of these early issues he comes off more like a fanfic character (super powerful, every issue he gets to meet a new popular character from the rest of the X-universe, hooks up with beautiful characters, etc).

Anonymous said...

i wouldn't necessarily call wolverine's feral rages a product of what he's put up with throughout his life. the circumstances are a bit different, and it's not the only thing driving his solo book.

i think the problem with a returning character trait like this for nate is that it seems to be the only thing his book had going for it. i only have scattered issues, but from the summaries here, it seems like every issue is nate meets someone, there is an irrational misunderstanding, and then an explosion due to his powers. over and over.

Paul said...

The Black Knight/Exodus material gets fleshed out in a one-shot that came out sometime later than this story.

x-man75 said...

I'd have to agree with you %100 Seangreyson when it comes to the utter lack of direction in Nate's comic book. When Terry Kavanagh takes over the X-Man book, Nate basically wanders around the world aimlessly, getting involved with one idiotic occurrence after another.

To me, it was just lazy writing that hurt Nate's comic, as opposed to Nate's actions themselves. I always felt Nate would have been much better served joining one of the fringe X-groups, like X-Force, as opposed doing practically nothing in his own comic.

G. Kendall said...

Anonymous -- exactly.
Labeling a character "suspicious" doesn't justify recycling the same story in every appearance. Even if he were horribly suspicious of everyone he meets, he's still supposed to be the most powerful telepath on Earth. He could easily mindscan all of the people he's met so far and see their true motives. The continuing gimmick that he's reacting to "surface scans" and getting the wrong idea from everyone is just silly.

Jeff said...

From what I've read the continuity issue caused by the Black Knight scene is that Dane Whitman recognized Exodus in the Blood Ties crossover, but the time travel storyline where he meets him actually occurred after. So technically, Dane had not "met" Exodus yet when he recognized him. I think Paul O'Brien elaborates on this.

Fnord Serious said...

The Black Knight one shot that Paul refers to looks to be this:

Black Knight: Exodus #1, cover date of December 1996 and featuring some early work by Jim Cheung.

x-man75 said...

G. Kendall, while I can understand what you're saying, and sure, Nate should thoroughly mind scan everyone he comes into contact with in order to learn their intentions towards him, he does come from a world where violence was usually used before logic.

On top of that, Nate is supposed to be around 16 years old at this point, which would also indicate, like a lot of 16 year olds, that he would probably lash out at people first before actually thinking.

I personally had no problem with Nate's attitude problems in his comic, what annoyed me most was the utter lack of direction in his comics.

Sorry if I seem to really harp on these things, but it's nice to find a blog where people are actually talking about Nate, even if it's negatively!

The Den of Mystery said...

Is it wrong that I like this - and the follow-up issue - solely because it gave more exposure to Exodus, who I thought a criminally underused character? Sigh. God bless you, 1990s.


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