Thursday, November 20, 2008

CABLE #31 – May 1996

…There is a Reaction!
Credits: Jeph Loeb (writer), Ian Churchill (penciler), Scott Hanna (inker), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (lettering), Mike Thomas & Graphic Color Works (colors)

Summary: Blaquesmith charges up his walking stick and prepares to kill X-Man. X-Man responds to the blast with a force of psionic energy, which weakens him and causes Blaquesmith to disappear. During the fight, psi-sensitives around the world, such as Holocaust, Psylocke, Phoenix, and Xavier have violent reactions to X-Man’s release of energy. Cable tries to reason with X-Man, but he refuses to give up. When Cable pushes X-Man’s powers to their limit, he falls unconscious. Blaquesmith reappears from his time-shift and tries again to convince Cable to kill him. Cable refuses and draws upon his last reserves of power to talk to X-Man telepathically. X-Man finally trusts him and allows Cable to repair the mental damage he sustained in the battle. Blaquesmith takes Cable away, as his techno-organic virus begins to grow again. Cable, who deduced that Blaquesmith’s method to kill X-Man was also his failsafe to kill him if he ever grew too powerful, tells him that too many dark secrets have emerged. Meanwhile, Post receives telepathic orders from Onslaught to kill Cable.

Review: Well, it’s another issue that relies on X-Man behaving irrationally to work, but it does at least have some redeeming elements. Revealing that Blaquesmith was more than a mentor to Cable, he was also supposed to be his assassin if things went wrong, is interesting. Realistically, if these characters were as powerful as the stories claim, there likely would be a terminal failsafe in place. The conflict between Cable and Blaquesmith works pretty well, as Cable sees himself in X-Man and Blaquesmith just sees a dangerous time anomaly that must be stopped. This is actually a case where X-Man’s psychotic behavior can work in the story’s favor, as Blaquesmith does have a legitimate argument to make. X-Man is apparently unable to respond to reason, and he presents a threat to the entire planet, so killing him could be just as a defensible as killing a rabid dog. Unfortunately, Blaquesmith disappears for most of the issue, leaving us with more scenes of X-Man’s powers exploding while he pointlessly fights Cable, so the argument doesn’t get enough play. So if you didn’t get enough large panels and splash pages of Cable and X-Man fighting in the last two chapters, I guess you’re in luck.

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

Summary: Blaquesmith continues to recap Cable’s history, explaining his conflicts with Stryfe and Tyler. He concludes by detailing his fight with X-Man, which might’ve placed Cable’s life in jeopardy.

Continuity Notes: Blaquesmith now says that he knows who stole his data on Cable in issue #21. He also says that he has a “disturbing conclusion as to his machinations, which we have all fallen prey to”. It seems like the thief is being retconned into being Onslaught, even though issue #21 heavily implied it was the X-Cutioner. This raises the same question X-Men #50 did…why would Onslaught go through all of this trouble to get information he already has access to?

Review: This is the second part of the back-up origin story. Oddly enough, it spends as much time recapping the main story in this issue as it does anything else. It also segues into more vague hints about an upcoming menace, which means it’s easily dismissed as more Onslaught nonsense.


x-man75 said...

I totally forgot about Blaquesmith also being there to kill Cable if need be! Wasn't Cable looked at as the savior to the Clan Askani? Why would they train an assassin to kill their savior?

It's been a while since I read the comics detailing Cable's past, but wouldn't killing your savior be very counter productive to your cause?

I take it that you REALLY hate Nate! Out of curiosity, do you hate Nate's actual character, the way the writers of "X-Man" portray Nate, or just the entire concept of Nate himself?

I kind of remember liking this crossover alot more then you did. I thought the 2nd crossover with these 2 characters was ALOT worse then this one. I'd love to read your review of that crossover just to see you really lambast it!

rob said...

For me, and I don't think I'm alone, I think Nate is disliked so much because I don't see much in the initial four issues of X-Men that warranted bringing the character to the Marvel U and continuing his ongoing. And when his ongoing spent the majority of its run meandering through pointless stories that followed the misunderstanding+explosion formula, that just reinforced that view.

Also, I disliked that he's one in a never-ending line of 'incredibly powerful mutants' on another level of power than most. The X-line already had enough of these.

As to his character itself, it just seemed too nondescript and whiny for me to overlook the weaknesses of his series and just like him as a character.

x-man75 said...

Cool, thanks for the explanation Rob. Usually when I proclaim that I am a fan of Nate, I'm asked either, Who's that? Or WHY?!?!

I agree that Nate's series was at times agonizingly bad, but usually when he was in comics other than his own, such as the Astonishing X-Men mini-series in the late 90's, or even Amazing Spider-Man, his character came across in a much better light. Nate always needed an older mentor to teach him or temper his bad attitude.

To me, Nate was/is an example of a character with such great potential, that was misused and wasted. Why he didn't eventually join a team, where his occasionally crazy antics could be played down is beyond me.

Sorry if I went off on a bit of a tangent there, but I could never understand the venom so many other X-Fans held for Nate.

wwk5d said...

Nate was made redundant (to me, anyway) since we already had Cable. I can see the premise of the idea; imagine a younger Cable, with full access to all his powers. But that was fine for AOA, and I think he should have stayed there. maybe if he was depowered a bit and added to X-force or another team, it could have worked. But otherwise, the quality of his title wasn't all the great (decent art from Skroce at this point), but otherwise, he was a forgettable character, a great example of 90's comic excess.

Fnord Serious said...

I'm one of those who is of the opinion that there are no bad characters. There are plenty, though, that are hard to write or that have a limited use. I was intrigued by Nate, but I felt that he was never used well. It felt more like they just wanted to be generating revenue from another X-Book than that they had a solid concept of what they wanted to do with the character. X-Man is symptomatic of the worst of the 90's X-bloat and thus receives a lot of venom. Venom caused more by weak execution of story than by a fundamental flaw in the character, IMO. If X-Man had launched with a strong creative team that had a plan for the character, I don't think Nate would catch the kind of flak that he does. I pretty much gave up on the X-books following Age of Apocalypse, and even if I had stuck with them, I think I would have seen X-Man as an empty cash-grab rather than a book with a story to tell. The X-books were already full of mysterious loners with unexplained backgrounds and X-Man just felt like another one thrown on the pile.

I know it's hard sometimes to be a fan of the b-list and below. My favorite character is Speedball, so I know what it's like to see your favorite guy get trashed on the internet :)

x-man75 said...

Oh man, I feel terribly for you Fnord Serious! I tend to gravitate more towards the b-list heroes, and HATED how terribly Marvel made Speedball and the New Warriors look during Civil War! I always liked the New Warriors, and hated to see them presented as weak amateurs, responsible for countless deaths.

As for Nate, I actually think I said something similar on my own blog about Nate's comic. It seemed nobody at Marvel really cared what was going on in his comic, and no matter how bad his comic became, nobody minded as long as it was producing money.

I always wondered what X-Man could have been if Jeph Loeb would have stayed on as writer, or if another high quality writer would have taken over after John Ostrander's run ended...

I personally will always be a fan of Nate, and hope that someday, Marvel will resurrect him, hopefully in a series written by Ed Brubaker... Hey, it could happen...

Arvin Bautista said...

My main beef with him was that he was yet another overly complicated wrinkle that the Summers/Grey family tree was becoming and dominating the entire timeline, while by this point whole other setups (like Rachel's character) had been completely written off without having been resolved. That Nate reintroduced Madelyne Pryor didn't help either.

x-man75 said...

Big families can be interesting. However, there is really no way I can defend Madelyne Pryor, or Nate's subsequent horrifying relationship with her. That was just plain bad! She was the clone of his mother!!!

wwk5d said...

I don't know if having Loeb or Ostrander stay on would have helped...the title was already repetitive and directionless when they were on the title. Maybe if they had stayed, it *might* have gone somewhere, but I doubt it.

x-man75 said...

I don't know wwk5d, Loeb only stayed on for 9 issues, and Ostrander was only there for 6 issues. If they were given a nice run of about 12-24 issues(1 or 2 years worth), I think they would have been talented enough to come up with a direction for Nate's character. Let's face it, Loeb was much more interested in Cable at the time, and Ostrander wasn't on the book long enough to really instill any kind of direction to it.

Terry Kavanagh was left with the comic for about 45 mostly bad issues. Kavanagh was given over three years to run "X-Man", and couldn't do anything with the character.

I really feel that if Loeb or Ostrander were given the same amount of time on Nate's book, they would have had a definitive idea as to what to do with the character. Of course, who really knows? Maybe they would have just made things even worse.

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