After being blown away by Avengers: Infinity War and a marathon session of Deadpool 2 trailers, I’ve decided to put the focus on Cable this week. Why? Because of Josh Brolin, of course, whose outstanding portrayal of Thanos certainly deserves an encore, albeit as Cable in Deadpool 2!
With him playing two different Marvel characters from two different Marvel screen universes, it can be confusing at times. But that pales in comparison with the confusion surrounding Cable in the comics.
Created to overcome the holier than thou virtues of Professor X, the time traveller lives by an “ends justify the means” modus operandi, which has cemented his stature in X-Men mythos.
To prepare you for the movie and minimise some of the comics-based confusion, here are a few facts about the man himself.
Cable has one of the most convoluted origins in comic book history. Born Nathan Christopher Charles Summers – baby Cable made his first appearance in 1986’s Uncanny X-Men #201 – he is the son of Scott Summers a.k.a. Cyclops and Madelyne Pryor, who happened to be the evil clone of Jean Grey, and also the Goblin Queen who once tried to sacrifice her own son!
Clear so far? Here’s where it gets confusing. During Cable’s toddler years – let’s call him Nathan for now – Apocalypse infected him with a techno-organic virus (see X-Factor #67).
To save his life, Cyclops sent Nathan to the future together with a woman named Askani, to be raised under the care of Mother Askani, who turned out to be Nathan’s time-displaced sister Rachel Summers, daughter of Scott and Jean Grey! (Besides his half-sister Rachel, Nathan also has an alternate reality “brother” in Nate Summers a.k.a. X-Man.)
Despite being Cyclops’ son, Nathan doesn’t possess the ability to fire optic blasts from his eyes, with most of his abilities akin to the bona fide Jean Grey’s – i.e. telepathy, telekinesis and technopathy.
What makes him the perfect soldier is his combat training and the cybernetic enhancements, which has enabled him to go head on against Wolverine, Captain America, and even the Silver Surfer! His ability to travel through time also comes in handy at times.
The Chosen One
Conveniently, to ensure that Scott and Jean did not miss out on Nathan’s growing years, Rachel pulled their respective psyches into the future, where they raised him for the next 12 years (Adventures Of Cyclops And Phoenix #1-#4, 1994), under the guises of Slym and Redd Dayspring,
Slym and Redd taught Nathan how to use his mutant powers (telekinesis and psychic) to keep the techno-organic virus at bay. Consequently, he even defeated Apocalypse, which earned him the monicker Askani’Son aka “the Chosen One”.
Anyway, Nathan wasn’t just the leader of the Askani Clan, he had a family of his own too – his wife Aliya Jenskot and their son Tyler. He also has an adopted daughter, Hope Summers, the first mutant born after the House Of M event where all but 198 mutants were depowered by the Scarlet Witch.
In the Messiah Complex event, Hope was rescued by Cable and brought to the future and raised as his own daughter.
Attack of the clone
When she first brought him to the future, Rachel also cloned Nathan just in case she couldn’t cure the virus. However, the clone was mistakenly abducted by Apocalypse’s minions and raised as Apocalypse’s heir a.k.a. Stryfe, who became Cable’s biggest arch nemesis.
This initially raised confusion as to who the original Nathan was – but it was resolved after Cable grew up and returned to the 21st century (in 1993’s Cable #6-#9).
Cable’s world was shattered when Stryfe killed Aliya and abducted Tyler – who was brainwashed to be used against Nathan in future encounters. Stryfe‘s escape into the past (circa late 20th century) is what led Cable to return to his original timeline, which led to his involvement with the New Mutants.
When Cable became Nathan
As it turns out, Cable wasn’t even supposed to be Nathan Summers in the first place. Cable actually made his first appearance in New Mutants #86 (cameo) and #87 (full) in 1990 – a full four years AFTER Nathan’s birth, and a year before he was sent to the future!
While Chris Claremont and Rick Leonardi are the people responsible for Nathan’s existence (see Uncanny # 201), the man who created Cable was none other than Rob Liefeld, who also created Deadpool.
Cable was originally conceived in 1990 when New Mutants’ editor Bob Harras wanted to “shake things up”, and felt a new leader was needed for the New Mutants to distinguish it from the X-Men’s original leader, Professor X.
“I was given a directive to create a new leader for the New Mutants,” Liefeld said in a 2009 interview with Comics Bulletin. “There was no name, no description besides a “man of action”, the opposite of Xavier. I created the look, the name, much of the history of the character.
Later, Harras and the other X-Men creators at the time (namely Jim Lee and Whilce Portacio) decided that Nathan would be sent into the future and grow up to become Cable, effectively making Cable and Nathan Summers the same character.
What’s in a name?
Liefeld was also the one who named the character Cable, despite suggestions by New Mutants scribe, Louise Simonson and Harras to call him Quinn or Commander X. The in-comic reason behind the name, however, came from Nathan himself.
After pursuing Stryfe from the future, Nathan arrived in Scotland (years before his birth) and sought refuge with Moira MacTaggert, who also taught him English. Nathan adopted the name Cable, as a metaphor for being a link between the present and the future.
For the record, Cable isn’t Nathan’s only codename, as he also answers to Soldier X, Nathan Winters, Nathan Dayspring, Chosen One, Traveler and Askani’son.
Fashion in action
Had Cable been introduced in present times, I seriously doubt that he could have enjoyed the same acceptance and success levels he garnered in the 90s.
Back then, Cable’s design was the personification of “extreme”, from his cybernetic arm and bionic eye, to his hilariously huge shoulder pads and leg pouches. He was also fully armed with weaponry from his head all the way down to his, er, tiny feet (which only appeared when Liefeld drew him)!
Armed with enough firepower to obliterate a city, how he could even move in that get up without having any major wardrobe malfunctions remains one of of comics’ biggest mysteries.
The Deadpool connection
After Cable’s regular solo series ended, he shared a title with Deadpool (who, as mentioned before, has the same creator, Liefeld). Cable & Deadpool lasted 50 issues from 2004 to 2008, in which they shared a buddy-cop relationship which sometimes transcended to extreme goofy humor.
Case in point, in the first story arc, If Looks Could Kill, Deadpool and Cable end up at the “The One World Church”, and are infected by a virus that turns everyone on Earth blue.
To save them both, Cable absorbs and then, er, throws up Deadpool (Ew, gross), which results in their DNA being mixed up. Cable later takes control of the virus and uses it to turn everyone pink (don’t ask).
Despite their opposing personas, the series did evoke some seriousness in the form of Cable’s efforts to make the world more peaceful! However his methods were questionable, forcing the intervention of the X-Men, Six Pack, S.H.I.E.L.D. and even the Silver Surfer.
The confrontations took a huge toll on Cable, resulting in his “death” and subsequent resurrection later, but the experience did help establish the character beyond the mutant arena.
While Deadpool 2 has the Merc with a Mouth forming X-Force, in the comics, Cable is the one who forms the team (in New Mutants #100), which is meant to be a “force for good”, and a more aggressive team of mutants compared to the regular X-Men.
Besides X-Force, Cable has also been involved in other teams, namely Askani, Wild/Six Pack, The Twelve, X-Men, Avengers Unity Division and The Underground. Of these, The Twelve is particularly intriguing, as it refers to a group of 12 mutants (Cable #74 and #75) sought by Apocalypse to combine their powers and channel into himself in order to obtain Godhood over the entire cosmos.
The 12 mutants are Cable, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Iceman, Bishop, Living Monolith, Magneto, Polaris, Prof X, Storm, Sunfire and Mikhail Rasputin. Sounds like a potential angle for a solo movie to us!