Thursday, June 1, 2017

Timely Traditions: Cable #1

The following is my review of Cable #1, which was posted on PopMatters.com.


When it comes to time travel, there aren't many superheroes these days that can do it without making fans roll their eyes. As a concept, time travel is overdone, burned out, and utterly devoid of shock value. The days of "Back To The Future" and the lovable eccentricities of Doc Brown are long gone. Stories that involve time travel are about as inane as a stories that involve Superman telling kids to eat their vegetables.

However, there is still one character who can build their story around time travel and make it work. It's not Doc Brown either. It's Cable. He's part Terminator, part Marty McFly, and part Rocky Balboa. He's also friends with Deadpool and willingly works with him on a regular basis. That alone is a testament to his grit and determination.

With a major role in the next Deadpool movie, as well as the star power of Josh Brolin, the time traveling mutant has a lot going for him. With Cable #1, another title in Marvel's ongoing RessurXion effort, James Robinson and Carlos Pacheco try to put Cable on the same wave that Deadpool rode to a wave of popularity. He may never inspire as many Funko figures or cos-play costumes, but he still has so many factors going for him.

The story in Cable #1 takes the core of his character and runs with it. There's no elaborate exposition. There's no major build-up to the plot. It just puts Cable in the middle of a time travel plot and lets him do his thing. Anyone who knows anything about Cable won't be too surprised. They won't be disappointed either. There's time travel, there's big guns, and there's large-scale violence both on and off-panel. By every measure, this is a typical Tuesday for Cable.


In terms of getting back to the core of a particular character, Cable #1 checks the necessary boxes. It doesn't check every box, but it checks the ones that are most important to the core of Cable's character. Robinson doesn't try to reinvent Cable or twist his story in some elaborate way. He sticks to the basics of time travel and big guns, which are the meat and potatoes of every great Cable story.

In terms of the contents of that story, it itself doesn't try to be too iconic. It has Cable doing some time-hopping to find someone who has been sharing futuristic weapons with people and time periods that haven't even mastered indoor plumbing. Anyone who deals with Marvel's twisted timeline is right to be concerned about that sort of thing. Given the absence of the Fantastic Four and the ineptitude of those such as Hank McCoy, Cable is the only one qualified to handle this issue. The substance is there. It's only the portion size that's lacking.

The core concept is there in Cable #1. There's someone screwing with the timeline by giving high-tech guns and swords to cowboys and samurai. That makes for plenty of gun-fights and gratuitous violence, as only Cable can inspire, but there's little context to the story. There's no real clue as to who Cable is after. The only detail revealed is that they think giving people who still see bathing as a luxury is a good idea. Beyond that, there's little else to go on.

That doesn't make Cable's battles any less entertaining. Compared to the plots of a typical Terminator movie, Cable #1 is refreshingly straightforward. There's just too little drama and too little setup to intrigue those who aren't already fans of Cable's time-hopping narratives. Robinson doesn't try to push the envelope and that's understandable. At a time when many other X-men characters are returning to their roots in wake of Inhumans vs. X-men, his efforts in Cable #1 fit the larger narrative. It just doesn't try to push it any further.

For those who don't know much about Cable or his convoluted backstory, complete with clones and techno-organic viruses, they won't see anything too overwhelming. They won't see anything too shocking either. They'll just see a character that specializes in traveling through time, shooting big guns, and getting into big fights. That alone has plenty of entertainment value. However, in a world that still has Deadpool and multiple Wolverine knock-offs, that only goes so far.

There aren't many details of the story in Cable #1 that are clear from the beginning or even the end, for that matter. That's not to say the story is messy or convoluted, though. It is the beginning of a larger story. The ending teases a much larger conflict at hand, one that will require more time travel and more big guns.

That has plenty of appeal to long-time Cable fans, but new readers won't find anything that they can't find in other comics that deal with big guns and gratuitous violence. Given the number of characters that rely on big guns and gratuitous violence, Cable #1 doesn't do much to set itself apart. However, there is still something to be said about a story that can involve cowboys and samurais in the same story.


In the end, the greatest success of Cable #1 is how sticks to the basics and doesn't complicate the narrative. In any story that involves time travel, that in and of itself is an accomplishment. Robinson maintains the core of Cable's character and Pacheco's art ensures that it's visually appealing. The story has the necessary foundation on which to build upon Cable's story. There's nothing in that story that precludes a narrative that becomes an iconic moment in his history. It's a long way towards achieving that level of quality, but it's on the right path.

With a promising future in Deadpool 2, courtesy of Josh Brolin, Cable is one of those characters whose profile is on the rise. Cable #1 puts him at the front of the batting order and shows off the potential of what he can bring to the table. With big guns, a bad attitude, and a blatant disregard for time paradoxes, he has all the tools he needs to be a major player for the X-men. At a time when Hugh Jackman has retired and Deadpool is the new adamantium standard, the timing couldn't be better.

Final Score: 6 out of 10

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