Comic Box: The Convoluted Case of Cable, Part IV

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When we first started this look at the history of Nathan Summers AKA Cable, I never expected it would take an entire month for us to cover all the juicy bits. And that's exactly what it was, just the juicy bits. I refrained from getting into details except when necessary and it still took us this long to reach the 'end' of our journey.

Last week we ended with ‘The Death of Cable’, which obviously means the best is yet to come. Actually, it rarely means that, but in this case it is totally accurate. We are just about to enter the event ridden last few years of the X-Men mythology, which feature Cable pretty heavily and bring us some of the best stories that Nathan has been in during his 20 year span as a Marvel mainstay. I say some of the best meaning they really pushed the limits of the character, and brought an entirely new dimension to Cable’s adventures. While I loved the Cable & Deadpool era, these coming events really made me love Cable even more than I already did.

And clearly I do, because I just spent a month talking about him. I have family I don’t talk about as much. I may need to reflect on that. Anyways…

Here’s what I pulled out of the Comic Box:

Messiah Complex

This event needs a little bit of an explanation, which takes us back to another Marvel event that changed the course of the X-Men stories. It was called House of M, and you can read more about it here. The important thing to take away from it is that reality altering mutant Wanda Maximoff AKA The Scarlet Witch went crazy and decimated the mutant population, effectively turning them into an endangered species. So when the first mutant birth since the event happened and registered to every mutant tracking device on the planet, it was clearly a big deal.

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Now as we know, Cable is presumed dead after an attack on Providence by Sunfire & Gambit (make sure to read the previous editions of Comic Box for more on that). So imagine the X-Men’s surprise, when after heading to the town the first new mutant was born in and finding it utterly destroyed with no survivors, and all signs seemingly point to Cable. While the worse scenario is automatically assumed, Cyclops puts together a new incarnation of X-Force to hunt down Cable and the baby, who most believe to be the mutant messiah. There is a bit of irony here as the first team of X-Force was put together by Cable, and now he is being hunted by the group’s successor.comic box the convoluted case of cable part iv cyclops cable Comic Box: The Convoluted Case of Cable, Part IV

Cable successfully protects the baby, even with pretty much every factor that was relevant in the X-world at the time against him. Eventually the only way to truly keep the baby safe was for Nathan to bodyslide into the future, effectively removing the mutant messiah from the very crisis that was threatening her life. The decision was left to Cyclops, who places the hope for the mutant race in to the arms of his only son, and set the mutant race in a war for survival. It was a move that didn’t sit well with some of the X-Men, one in particular.


Bishop, another time lost mutant who traveled back to the present in order to fix the future, was none too happy about the birth of the mutant messiah. Bishop believed that this mutant birth was the catalyst for his hellish future, and pretty much lost his mind, adding to the growing threat to the baby mutant. He effectively hounded Cable, and in the moments before Cyclops entrusted the baby into Nathan’s care, he lost his arm in battle. He disappeared amidst the confusion, stole a robotic arm from mutant machinesmith Forge along with a time machine, and headed after Nathan to finish his mad goal of destroying the mutant baby.

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This was a big change for Bishop’s status quo, as he had always been an ally of the X-Men, and even of Cable at various times in their career. He faithfully followed the teachings of Professor Xavier and dedicated his life to the dream, fighting alongside mutants for the benefit of his future. When he snapped, he went full bore and became such a threat to Cable that it was hard to remember him ever being an ally. Bishop’s betrayal was one of the most memorable moments of Messiah Complex, and certainly wouldn’t be the last time we heard from him.

Hope Summers

With Cable once again back in the timestream, he spent some time acclimating to his new role as protector of the mutant race/ babysitter. He figured that simply by moving into the future he would be safe, but unknown to him Bishop was following him through the timestream. During one of their first battles, Cable’s time device was damaged, leaving him only able to travel further into the future. Each time he bodyslides into the future, he gets further and further away from the X-Men and the reason he left with the child in the first place. He eventually settles down in the future and marries a woman named Hope, who helps him raise the young child who is still nameless.

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When the young mutant is about seven, their home is attacked and their safe haven ruined, leaving Cable’s wife Hope murdered by a race of insectoid creatures. Since Bishop was unable to find Cable, he set about destroying every part of the world in the past, leaving North America as the only habitable place for Cable and the child to hide. Cable names the child Hope, in memory of his fallen wife. Their strenuous lifestyle would continue for years, and even involve encounters with Stryfe (Cable’s evil clone) and Cyclops’ X-Force, who were tasked with bringing Hope back to the present. Bishop remained a constant threat to Cable and Hope, who continued to move forward in time as the need arose.

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Eventually Cable was able to fix his time travel tech, and left the decision to Hope (now a teenager) as to whether she wanted to return to the past and the X-Men or remain where they were. Hope decided she was ready, and father and daughter headed back to the present day to fulfill Hope’s destiny. This series was easily one of my favorite Cable series because it gave us something we had only seen parts of before. Cable the soldier, the warrior, the general, was now the father. And watching Hope grow up at the knee of the man who had been through so much in his life was rewarding for any fan of the character.

Second Coming

Second Coming is the culmination of all the various storylines started since Messiah Complex, and is set into motion with the arrival of Cable and Hope in the present day. Attacked immediately by members of The Right, Cable and Hope once again go to ground, continuing their life on the run. Eventually they meet up with the X-Men, as they prepare to wage what could very well be their final war. Cable agrees to join X-Force on what could only be considered a suicide mission, while Hope remains behind.

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He says his goodbyes to his daughter and leaves her in the care of his father, Cyclops. Hope begins to settle into her uncomfortable role as the mutant messiah and soon begins to work alongside the team, becoming a key player in the final battle between the X-Men and Bastion (the orchestrator of the events of Second Coming). Cable’s love and pride for his daughter permeates every part of Second Coming, and really ties in perfectly with the previous series. It also brings a sense of closure to Cable’s new mission as Hope’s protector, which leads to his ultimate sacrifice for his daughter.

The Death of Cable… Again

On his mission with X-Force, Cable and the team travel to an alternate future that is supplying Bastion with his army of mutant hunting robots known as Nimrods. It is a heated and bloody battle, but eventually the team succeeds in its mission, with a few complications. The time portal back to the present will only allow inorganic material through the portal, effectively stranding the team in the apocalyptic future. Cable is forced to make a tough decision and allows the techno-organic virus he has been fighting his entire life to take over his body.

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With this future tech replacing his organic components, Cable is able to hold open the closing time portal long enough for the members of X-Force to make it through the portal, shielded by Cable’s TO virus. They arrive at the scene of the X-Men’s battle, where Hope has discovered her mutant ability to mimic other mutant’s powers in her vicinity and has destroyed Bastion. Cable leaves Hope with one final loving glance as the time portal closes, ripping his techno-organic body to shreds.

And once again, Cable is dead.

The Return of Cable

Or not. Turns out the time portal shunted him into the future once again, where he encounters his old friend and mentor Blaquesmith. Blaquesmith informs Cable that Hope doesn’t survive into the future due to an accident with the Avengers, which sets Cable on a new mission. With the TO virus once again threatening to take over his body, leaving him with only 24 hours to live, Cable heads back to the past to take on the Avengers with the intention of saving his adopted daughter, now a member of the X-Men and leader of her own team of mutants.

As the TO virus consumes Cable’s body, he takes the fight to the Avengers, and nearly succeeds in his mission to destroy them. Only the timely intervention of Blaquesmith, Hope, and Cyclops stop his plan to deal with the Avengers, and Cable is left dying as the TO virus takes over. At this point Hope, who has been absorbing the energy of the Phoenix Force since her time back in the present, reacts to seeing her father die in front of her again. She takes the TO virus into her own body and burns it away with the power of the Phoenix. This leaves Nathan cured of the virus and alive, but with the future still in question and Hope’s safety uncertain.

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Here is where Cable’s tale ends, but this ending is really yet another beginning for the soldier who has literally lived his entire life fighting a battle that he was born for. Hope, the daughter he raised in his image, deals with her role in the destiny of mutant kind, and her ascension as the Phoenix leads to all out war between the Avengers and the X-Men. In the aftermath of this event, which led to the restoration of the mutant race because of Hope and the Scarlet Witch (who had ironically been the one to destroy it in the first place), Cable will lead a new team of X-Force in the upcoming Cable & X-Force series. This is a part of the Marvel NOW! event across the whole Marvel Universe and will focus primarily on a fugitive Cable, while featuring his relationship with his daughter.

So while we have now finished our look at the history of the man called Cable, his future is still wide open. And for a man who knows just a little bit too much about the future, that might be the best thing for him.

That’s it for this edition of Comic Box! Are there any teams/characters you want to see us take a look at? Let us know in the comments section below!

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