Wednesday, February 6, 2013

NEW MUTANTS #93 – September 1990




Madripoor
Credits:  Louise Simonson (writer), Rob Liefeld (penciler), Hilary Barta (inker), Joe Rosen (letters), Brad Vancata (colors)

Summary:  Sunfire meets Cable and the New Mutants in Madripoor, where the Japanese government has traced the manufacture of Sleet, a new drug that was used to poison the water supply of a Japanese town.  Cable’s convinced that the Mutant Liberation Front is behind Sleet.  With the aid of portable Cerebro units, the mutants split up and search Madripoor.  Cannonball, Boom-Boom, Warlock, and Sunfire are soon captured by MLF operatives.  Meanwhile, Cable tracks a mutant signature that turns out to be Wolverine.  They immediately fight, much to Sunspot’s horror.

Continuity Notes
  • Rob Liefeld is still drawing Cable with that giant knife on covers and pin-ups, but I don’t think it’s ever used in any story.
  • Cable knew Sunfire’s father, Suburo Yashida, and apparently has a deep respect for him.  Whether or not he’s already met Sunfire is ambiguous, but Sunfire does tell Cable it’s a shame his son met such an “untimely fate.”  This is another early reference to Cable’s son, a mystery that flounders around for years before it’s finally decided that Tyler, a.k.a. Mr. Tolliver, a.k.a. Genesis, is Cable’s son.  (More accurately, his adopted son from his wife’s previous relationship.)  Since Tyler exists in the future, it’s unclear how Sunfire knows about him.  
  • More of Cable’s advanced technology appears, as he rides through the sky with Sunspot and Boom-Boom on a flying motorcycle.  He still hasn’t been identified as a time traveler at this point, however.
  • This issue marks the first appearances of three MLF members:  Dragoness, Kamikaze, and Sumo.  As you might’ve discerned, they’re all from Japan (Dragoness even links her mutantcy to the “twisted genetics” created by Hiroshima’s bombing).  This is the first indication that the MLF is a global organization, an idea that’s quietly ignored over the years.
  • Stryfe meets the New Mutants for the first time, teleporting into the battle with Zero after Cannonball’s team defeats Dragoness, Kamikaze, and Sumo.  He uses a “paralysis ray” (rather than his massive telekinetic powers, oddly enough) to incapacitate the team.

Creative Differences:  Numerous lettering corrections this issue.  One is during Stryfe’s introduction of the Japanese MLF members to General Coy (who’s aiding the team in Madripoor).  Another correction has Sunfire lecturing Cable on the futility of revenge when Cable talks about killing the man who killed his son.  Later, Stryfe’s dialogue has been altered as he congratulates Zero for teleporting them into the battle just in time.  An entire page of Cable and Wolverine’s fight scene has also been re-lettered, and judging by the shift in coloring techniques, I’m assuming the original page from New Mutants #93 has been altered somehow in the initial Cable and the New Mutants trade paperback (page 146 in case you’re curious).

“Huh?” Moment:  Boom-Boom is able to identify Kamikaze’s power as the ability to “explode on impact” even though this is the first time they’ve met and he hasn’t used his powers yet.

Review:  As the cover says, we just knew a Wolverine/Cable fight “had to happen,” so here we are. https://annihilusssl.sslcs.cdngc.net/i/7438/18579/613d31bc39e6961e9ece4ec024752885.jpg?h=23582f7f388e2facc09e09ca5e63f0ca Before the story reaches that point, there’s a totally unrelated plot involving the MLF that must be addressed.  I actually like this incarnation of the MLF, a global group of terrorists with a masked leader and a different set of mutants operating all across the globe.  They’re a lot like Cobra, but since Cable is essentially a G. I. Joe character thrust onto a mutant team at this point, it works.  If the MLF were ever allowed to develop as a concept, there’s a lot of potential here.  Unfortunately, the team’s destined to become background players in Cable’s war against Stryfe, and once Stryfe is revealed as an insincere believer in his own cause, the rest of the MLF are just cast off as forgotten cannon fodder.  I don’t think anyone’s ever cared enough about them to even use them as cheap shock value deaths.

At the time this was published, of course, no one knew any of this was coming.  I’m sure the target audience was thrilled to see Stryfe finally confront the team face-to-face, and to receive even more vague clues about Cable’s past.  And throwing in Sunfire is a nice nod to longtime readers, as well.  (I guess it could be argued that linking Japan and Madripoor creates the impression that Asia is much smaller than it truly is, but I think it helps to establish just how extensively the MLF has infiltrated the continent.)  And because this book hasn’t totally left the Bronze Age yet, many of the ongoing character subplots are still advanced, even in the midst of an all-action issue.  Cable has an internal monologue revealing how much he does care about his students, Wolfsbane’s relationship with Rictor continues, against the team’s objections, Cannonball is annoyed by Sunfire’s attitude and the revelation that Cable has a son, and Sunspot reflects on how much more respect he has for Cable than Professor Xavier.  This leads into the final scene, as Sunspot witnesses Cable fighting another one of his idols, Wolverine, and is heartbroken.  It’s melodramatic, yes (and I’m not sure if it’s ever been established that Sunspot has strong feelings either way about Wolverine), but you need these character moments, especially in a teenage superhero title.

And, yes, I’ve skipped New Mutants #92.  It was apparently an inventory issue involving the Skrulls, one that Marvel didn’t bother reprinting in the original Cable and the New Mutants trade, or in the newer editions.  There might’ve been a one-page scene establishing why the characters are flying to Madripoor at the end of the issue, but I don’t feel like I’m really missing anything to be honest. 

11 comments:

Mela said...

I don't have the highest opinion of Louise Simonson's run on New Mutants overall (putting it politely), but you make a good point about how she took some of the hastily dashed off ideas from Liefeld & tried to mold them into something usable. I agree that the MLF as an international group would've been way more interesting than what we got, since many of them at least had distinctive designs & powers.

One question, though - who can we blame for the supposedly Japanese Dragoness the given name of Tamara Kurtz?

Anonymous said...

I've always liked Stryfe and his MLF, I thought they were much more interesting than the Acolytes; for one, they have distinct powers. I always saw them as a larger, global yet more grassroots version of the Brotherhood. It's a shame Mike Carey didn't stay on Legacy; he did a lot for the Acolytes, if he stuck asround longer he might've been able to breath some life back into the MLF concept.

wwk5d said...

"Sunspot reflects on how much more respect he has for Cable than Professor Xavier"

Oh God, the man-crush the male characters were developing for Cable is hitting Mary-Sue levels here. Yikes.

I don't think Sunpsot and Wolverine were ever that close, or even usually on good terms, they tended to clash, personality wise, more than they got along. Having Wolverine be one of his idols is a but much.

"You Knew it Had to Happen!"

Stuff like that on covers always made me crack up. Why were we supposed to know, exactly? 2 hard-core bad-ass characters eventually had to meet up and fight for no apparent reason, I guess...

The original plans for Cable (such as they were) were pretty all over the place. Looks like they were making it up as they went along, since it would be another 3 or 4 years before they settled on an "origin" for him. And none of what we learn about Cable in this New Mutants issues can be reconciled with what his origin ended up being...

Dan Lichtenberg said...

I honestly didn't know Cable's early details were this random. Even when the dust (mostly) settled on his origins years later, I think he's still one of the most complicated characters Marvel has ever produced. Can someone think of another character who had this many conflicting background hints coming so quickly?

Also, if anyone can, please clear some things up. How far along was it before Cable was tied to Apocalypse? When was the first time (in terms of publishing) that he and Xavier interacted, and did they seem to know each other? And what about his original "searching for and protecting Cannonball" mission, how was that reconciled with what became his "destroy Apocalypse" mission?

The many wiki sources are surprisingly useless in figuring out exactly how and when these elements came together and which ones didn't stick. It's easy to blur this stuff in retrospect, and I'm interested in seeing how the character involved and how many forgotten contradictions there were (it looks like a whole hell of a lot). This makes my head hurt, yeesh.

G. Kendall said...

"How far along was it before Cable was tied to Apocalypse? "

I believe it was X-FORCE #17, the middle chapter during X-Cutioner's Song. That's the issue that established Cable fought the Canaanites in the future, which are Apocalypse's men. Stryfe already had an established feud with Apocalypse at this point, so Cable kind of inherited it.


"When was the first time (in terms of publishing) that he and Xavier interacted, and did they seem to know each other? "

It might have been Scott and Jean's wedding. I don't think there were any hints that they shared a past together until James Robinson's CABLE run. Cable certainly doesn't talk about Xavier as if he's an old ally during X-Tinction Agenda.




"And what about his original "searching for and protecting Cannonball" mission, how was that reconciled with what became his "destroy Apocalypse" mission?"

It wasn't.

Dan Lichtenberg said...

@G. Kendall
I believe it was X-FORCE #17, the middle chapter during X-Cutioner's Song. That's the issue that established Cable fought the Canaanites in the future, which are Apocalypse's men. Stryfe already had an established feud with Apocalypse at this point, so Cable kind of inherited it.


I guess that works. Not really. It's strange to think that Cable's (retconned) primary mission was to destroy Apocalypse, and the two didn't even meet in 616 until Onslaught, years after his first appearance. They did NOT meet during X-Cutioner's song which is bizarre in retrospect.

It might have been Scott and Jean's wedding. I don't think there were any hints that they shared a past together until James Robinson's CABLE run. Cable certainly doesn't talk about Xavier as if he's an old ally during X-Tinction Agenda.

Again, so weird to think about now. In the Flashback Cable issue, one of the first things on Cable's mind upon arrival in 616 was finding Xavier. I'm not sure when the two actually did meet chronologically, but it makes one wonder why Cable was farting around instead of doing what he was supposed to do.

And what is it about that wedding? I think that's technically the first time Gambit and Kitty Pryde were in the same place (although later issues would try to deny this). Just strange to think that two major characters like that took so long to interact.

It wasn't.

Oh. Well that's... special. Heh.

It's funny because all of the damage control they tried to do on Cable's retconned past only half worked. They eventually got around to explaining his past with Wolverine, but it didn't really line up with their earlier dialogue. Same with Xavier and Moira. And like you say, certain danglers were just ignored. I understand that these things happen with a new character (Onslaught, etc.) but Cable's back story is absolutely swarming with them. I really think making him a time traveler and Scott and Maddy's kid was a mistake. It's accepted now, sure, but it was obviously the furthest thing from the creators' minds for years. And really, did it make him more interesting?

wwk5d said...

Actually, the Cable: Blood & Metal mini came out before X-Cutioner's Song, so I think that was when Apocalypse became drawn into the Cable/Stryfe background.

G. Kendall said...

Cable: Blood & Metal, and a subplot scene in X-Men #12 or #13, hinted at a connection between Stryfe and Apocalypse, but I'm pretty sure X-Force #17 is when we learn Cable ever fought Apocalypse. Blood & Metal is the miniseries that has Cable unable to recognize a drawing of Apocalypse on an ancient sword, which always amuses me.

Teebore said...

They immediately fight, much to Sunspot’s horror.

And to absolutely no one else's surprise. :)

and I’m not sure if it’s ever been established that Sunspot has strong feelings either way about Wolverine

I'm pretty sure that was established during the Asgardian New Mutants/X-Men crossover in the annuals circa Uncanny #200. Something about Sunspot trying to be a tough guy like Wolverine and Wolverine giving him the usual "it takes more than being tough" speech.

It was apparently an inventory issue involving the Skrulls, one that Marvel didn’t bother reprinting in the original Cable and the New Mutants trade, or in the newer editions.

Ah yeah, I'd forgotten about that. My first experience with these issues was that Cable trade paperback, so I was always confused (and angry) that issue #92 wasn't reprinted. When I finally got ahold of it, I realized why...

@Dan:They did NOT meet during X-Cutioner's song which is bizarre in retrospect.

A little bit, yeah, though it probably works better in hindsight in terms of reconciling the Cable of that time with the "my mission is to stop Apocalypse" Cable.

Considering Apocalypse was allied with the X-Men by the end of "X-Cutioner's Song", Cable probably would have had to work alongside him if they'd interacted at all, which would have seemed even more bizarre when we later learned about his initial mission.

As it is, we can just assume Cable was aware of Apocalypse's involvement but never had an opportunity to try and take him out.

Anonymous said...

I always assumed that the reason Cable came back to "train" Cannonball during his ascension into a highlord was so that he would be an eternal on the side of the X-Men that could go toe-to-toe with Apocalypse (who is also a highlord). But then Cannonball's highlord plot got dropped. We still don't have an explanation for how he came back from the dead fully healed after being impaled by Sauron; I still say he's a highlord, and a future writer should take advantage of it. I'd basically make him a Super Saiyan based off that Mad! issue where he fought Gladiator, but that might just be my manga sensibilities.

Harry Sewalski said...

Is... is Cable thrusting his nipples at Wolverine on that cover?

I'd also like to point out that I like when Sunfire randomly appears in X-Men comics. Love me a bit of Sunfire.

He still hasn’t been identified as a time traveler at this point, however.

Speaking as someone who got into comics circa 2007, it's incredibly weird to think of a time when absolutely no one knew anything about Cable. Okay, so I get that you have to start somewhere, but I take all of the techno-organic/time traveller/Scott's son stuff for granted, I guess.

@Anonymous:We still don't have an explanation for how he came back from the dead fully healed after being impaled by Sauron

My headcanon is that Liefeld's art is so XTREME that it can resurrect the dead.

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