Credits: James Robinson (writer), Ladronn (penciler), Juan Vlasco (inker), Glynis Oliver (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters)
Summary: In the past, Moira MacTaggert travels with Rahne Sinclair to Stornoway. Cable has just arrived in this timeline and cannot speak English. Moira defends him, as Rev. Craig declares him the Devil’s herald. Cable uses his telepathic powers to calm the crowd. At Muir Island, Moira examines Cable, whose powers inadvertently destroy her equipment. He saves her from falling debris; then uses his powers to learn English from her mind. Cable explains that he’s on a mission and asks if she can contact Charles Xavier. Meanwhile in Switzerland, Apocalypse senses Cable’s arrival and awakes.
Continuity Notes: Since Cable learns English in this issue, it has to take place before his mercenary days with the Six Pack. This is also another instance of Cable using telepathic/telekinetic powers before he should have them in-continuity (he developed them after founding X-Force). I don’t know if Cable and Xavier actually did meet during this era, but I do know that Jeph Loeb wanted to establish that Cable helped Xavier build the Danger Room, as vaguely hinted during his X-Force run.
James Robinson gives Cable a bizarre speech pattern during a flashback to his time in the future. I assume this is supposed to be an English translation of Askani, leading Cable to say things like, “Forward fight then…and quarter to none!” and “Worry gone, friend-fighters.” He’s never spoken like this in any of his previous flashbacks, though.
The presence of Wolfsbane, Rahne Sinclair, causes a lot of problems. Rahne is described as Moira’s ward, which isn’t accurate. Moira recognized Rahne in her first appearance in the New Mutants GN as a child she delivered years earlier. Chris Claremont later established that Moira spent time with Rahne as a girl during an added page in Classic X-Men #2, but the scene made it clear that Rev. Craig was her guardian. There’s also the question of Rahne’s age. If the story takes place before Fantastic Four#1, which was the intent of Flashback Month, it should be ten years ago. Rahne was established as fourteen in her early appearances, meaning she should be around four in this issue and not the junior high student she appears to be. To prove I can be even more pedantic, I’ll point out that a narrative caption describes Rahne as a future member of X-Force, which wasn’t true in 1997 (although I guess it’s become true in recent years). Finally, Stan Lee claims during his final page that Cable erased Rahne’s memory (but not Moira’s) of the events, since Cable apparently knew they would meet later on.
Review: What’s that you say? A Cable Flashback issue is a continuity mess? James Robinson was still very new to this title, so I’m sure having to keep Cable continuity straight and figure out where it relates to the start of the Marvel Universe wasn’t easy. This actually does answer the question of how Moira knew Cable (as established in one of his early appearances), leaving Rahne’s appearance as the major continuity offender. Robinson does seem comfortable with Cable’s makeover as a new age warrior from the future, giving the story an “epic” feel. I personally think this direction never fit Cable, but Robinson can handle it well enough. Making Cable inadvertently responsible for Apocalypse’s reawaking isn’t a bad idea; one that Fabian Nicieza took a step further a few years ago in Cable and Deadpool.
The issue’s true significance is the debut of Ladronn as artist. His Kirby-influenced art is obviously a perfect fit for Flashback Month, and he’s aided by Glynis Oliver’s colors, which even go back to the “tiny dots” look of the Silver Age. Ladronn’s depiction of Cable’s future, Muir Island’s technology, and the surroundings of Scotland are amazing. Each page is filled with intricate details that clearly required a real effort on Ladronn’s part. This might’ve seemed like an odd title to assign Ladronn, but he made it work.