Dusting Off: Cable & Deadpool #40 (May 2007)

10th December 2008 | by | No Comments

hillside cannibals dvd Every Wednesday we take turns to delve into our trusty longboxes, pluck out a dusty back issue, and give you our thoughts. We’ll also try and place it in the context of the time it was originally published.

At the time of publication, this the plotline for the first issue of Fabian Nicieza’s crossover with Mike Carey’s X-Men seemed a rather odd choice. With Cable’s utopian island state being ripped apart by a rampaging bio-weapon, the stage seemed set for an action-packed arc to win over visiting readers from the more popular title. Instead, the writer delivered a reflective and strangely mournful piece, largely set within Nathan Summers’ own mind. With hindsight, however, Nicieza’s preoccupations are all-too apparent.

The end of Carey’s most recent issue had seen Cable agreeing to merge with a psionic parasite, restoring his telepathy and enabling him to fight Hecatomb, with the visiting team’s physical powers obviously no match for the creature. Nicieza rewinds matters slightly, moving back to show Summers musing whether to go through with the deal. His thoughts follows a rather unexpected path, musing that all his recent triumphs, establishing democracy in a fictional eastern European state, starting his Providence think-tank to encourage a new form of society and outwitting that US government’s bids to discredit him, were only possible because he had abandoned his telepathy and oversized guns. It’s a slightly far-fetched hypothesis, reliant on the notion that his psychic “cheating” worked against him, but the writer’s real thesis soon emerges. Nicieza later described Cable’s removal from his own book to participate in the Messiah Complex plotline as “faintly hysterical”, but there’s a tone of real wistfulness here, as the author know ledges that his more complex take on the character he helped define will soon be abandoned.

What seals the deal is the moment where Cable begins to reflect on whether some outside force is governing his life, manipulating into playing the “grizzled, gun-totting tough guy” every time he tries to grow out of his niche in the X-universe. There’s no fourth-wall break here, as Summers’ reflections are clearly crouched in sci-fi language, and such elemental beings showed up fairly regularly in Cable’s solo title. For all that, the attack on Marvel’s editorial policy is unmistakable, with the writer clearly irked by the dismissal of the mix of geopolitics, espionage and super heroics that had become the character’s modus operandi. Nicieza had clearly received his own glimpse of his time-traveller’s future, reduced to a plot device in his own book and forced to regress into a Leifield-esque terminator analogue. Cable & Deadpool #40 is an unexpectedly sobering read, and leaves a striking glimpse of the cost of investing creative energy in a character whose destiny is in the hands of others.