Credits: James Robinson (writer), Ladronn (penciler), Juan Vlasco w/Scott Hanna (inkers), Comicraft (letters), Gloria Vasquez (colors)
Summary: In 1859, Apocalypse places a man, his “harbinger,” into an embryogenic tank. In 1915, Union Jack stops the Hellfire Club’s Harry Manners from releasing the Harbinger in London. Today, Cable visits Cyclops and Phoenix before leaving on his mission to stop the Hellfire Club. From Madelyne Pryor, Cable learns of Shaw’s plan to free the Harbinger in London. Cable arrives as Ch’vayre, Pierce, and Shaw are releasing the Harbinger from his cocoon. The Harbinger easily defeats Cable and the Hellfire Club before making his escape. Cable telepathically tracks the Harbinger, and learns that he has no violent motives, but instead wishes to study humanity. Soon, Cable and Irene Merryweather investigate the debris of the Hellfire Club’s operation. They discover the Club has tracked the frequency transmitted to Apocalypse when the Harbinger was released.
Continuity Notes: Ch’vayre is an Askani refugee living in this era. He’s helping the Hellfire Club release the Harbinger because Sanctity believes this will force Cable into following his destiny. Madelyne Pryor tells Cable about Shaw’s plan because she fears he’s unleashing a genocidal monster.
“Huh?” Moment: As Cable runs towards the Harbinger, there’s a panel devoted to an inexplicable shot of his foot. The editor’s footnote reads, “We’re not really sure why Ladronn put this panel here, but it was too fun & wacky to take out.”
Review: It’s a big anniversary issue, and Robinson crams enough material in to make the story appropriate for its double-sized format. Aside from Cable’s visit with Cyclops and Phoenix (which takes place right before they move to Alaska), Robinson also diverges from the main plot with two flashback scenes. We don’t really need to see a lot of space dedicated to Apocalypse placing an anonymous man into the “embryogenic tank,” or Union Jack’s battle with an earlier incarnation of the Hellfire Club, but both scenes take advantage of Ladronn’s art. Along with the care he takes in drawing Apocalypse’s convoluted technology, it’s a blast to see Ladronn’s interpretation of the Marvel Universe. The 1915 Union Jack fighting Hellfire goons in an issue of Cable? Why not? Robinson could’ve wasted these pages on a pointless brawl between Cable and the Harbinger, but I’m glad the story doesn’t lead up to an extended fight scene. If Apocalypse really did keep someone in a forced evolution for over a hundred years, what would he be like? Who’s to say he’d automatically come out violent?
Oddly enough, even though this is the double-sized 50th issue, it’s not the end of the storyline. The Hellfire Club is still looking to steal Apocalypse’s power, which is fair enough since Robinson’s already established that as their goal, but the overall structure feels wonky. Who makes the middle chapter of their storyline the double-sized anniversary issue?