Credits: Joe Casey (writer), José Ladronn (penciler), Juan Vlasco (inker), Gloria Vasquez (colors), Comicraft (letters)
Summary: Cable gives Irene an interview, revealing his past and telling the story of his recent Christmas shopping trip with Stacey. They encountered a sidewalk Santa that had been mugged, which led Cable to question if dark times are approaching. After hearing Cable’s origin, Irene rejects the Daily Bugle’s job offer, declaring that it isn’t her destiny. Meanwhile, Apocalypse “tests” Mexico City with an earthquake, while Ozymandias contacts Blaquesmith with an urgent message. Finally, a mystery figure destroys a building in Hell’s Kitchen.
Review: Cable’s origin was already considered something of a joke by this point, so this is Joe Casey’s attempt to streamline all of the “shocking revelations” of the past and give Cable a clear direction. (He even avoids too many obvious meta-jokes, using the word “continuity” just once, and describing the story as “convoluted” only twice). Casey comes to the reasonable conclusion that Cable’s entire life has been dominated by Apocalypse in some way or another, so his true goal is to kill the monster before he can ever come to power. Cable’s previous motives -- mentoring Cannonball, the “ascendant High-Lord,” and targeting Stryfe for revenge following his wife’s death and son’s brainwashing -- don’t directly contradict this, so it’s easy for a continuity purist to buy the premise. I am a little surprised that Stryfe isn’t even mentioned in the issue, though, considering that all of Cable’s early appearances seemed to center around the shiny villain. I understand the need to simplify, but I don’t think a reference to Cable’s evil clone, warped by Apocalypse as a youth, would’ve been too hard to work in.
Although most of the issue is a recap, quite a few story threads are continued. Apocalypse returns, signaling an “epic” confrontation with Cable that never really panned out (the end-of-the-millennium Apocalypse story Casey planned for Cable was later co-opted by “The Twelve” crossover). Ozymandias and Blaquesmith get a subplot page, no doubt tied in with the developing Apocalypse story. A Kirby-style silhouette destroys a building in Hell’s Kitchen, which I’m assuming will lead into next issue’s action story. The character subplots focus on Cable’s burgeoning friendship with Stacey and her brother Kenny. Stacey wants Cable to use his telepathy to cure Kenny of Down syndrome, but he doesn’t have the heart to tell her that a) his powers can’t cure a genetic condition, and b) he’s lost his telepathy anyway. It would be easy for this scene to make Stacey look like a fool, but Casey goes out of his way to emphasize that she knows she’s asking for the impossible and is really speaking out of desperation. Irene’s scenes don’t work as well; basically, she’s giving up her dream job at the Daily Bugle in order to follow Cable around, which doesn’t exactly seem like the best career move. The story presents this as a grand gesture, signifying the important work Cable’s going to be doing in the next year, but that’s a hard sell to make. Regardless, there’s a lot going for this issue, even if it is mostly a clip show.