Wednesday, December 19, 2012

CABLE #74 - December 1999

Mind Games

: Joe Pruett (writer), Bernard Chang (penciler), Jon Holdredge (inker), Gloria Vasquez (colors), Comicraft’s Saida Temofonte (letters)

Summary: Caliban attacks the team, injuring Proudstar. He abruptly leaves, following the call of Apocalypse’s new Horseman of War, Deathbird. X-Force follows, only to be ambushed by Caliban’s new psionic pestilence powers. Cable enters the Astral Plane to rescue the team, not realizing that this was a trap designed to steal Cable’s physical body while his consciousness was distracted. Cable later awakens in Apocalypse’s custody. Meanwhile, Stacey and Irene reflect on Cable’s impact on their lives.

Continuity Notes: Apocalypse has given Caliban pestilence powers that somehow don’t work physically, but instead attack the mind. For unexplained reasons, Moonstar, Domino, Meltdown, and Jesse Bedlam aren’t affected by his powers.

Review: This is Joe Pruett’s strongest issue so far, and perhaps not coincidentally, it’s also another non-Liefeld issue (the second in four issues). Pruett’s awkward prose is paired back dramatically this time, and he actually manages to write adequate exchanges between the cast. It’s not perfect, of course, as he clumsily hammers home the idea that this is a “new” compassionate Cable, but this is much easier to read than his previous issues. Pruett, or perhaps someone in editorial, has seen fit to outright state that this warmer, fuzzier Cable will be rejoining X-Force in order to look after his former charges, which is likely a hint that no one working on the books had any idea what “Counter-X” was going to be at this point.

And while it’s easy to mock Liefeld for missing half of the issues of his run so far, at least we got Bernard Chang as a fill-in. Some of his facial expressions are still bizarre, but for the most part, he’s able to do a great action issue in that “chunky” post-manga style that was emerging during this time. His scenes in the Astral Plane, which cast the action as a montage within a film strip, are particularly nice.

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