Although playing the regressed Cable off against the new X-Force is an obvious move, the concept of a full crossover still seems an odd idea, with Kyle & Yost’s fast paced drama an uncomfortable fit for Duane Swierczynski’s meandering solo book. Judging by this issue of Cable, the approach taken seems to have been the obvious one, with Swierczynski providing a calm stocktaking after the other authors have established the setting. The guest stars are largely used as plot devices here, keeping the focus on the regular characters. Deadpool’s appearance is used as a source of flashbacks establishing the ground rules, while the short sequence featuring the villains confirms that at this point in the story, Stryfe is simply a gun for Bishop to aim at Cable. The issue largely serves to cement the story before its three-week hiatus, tidying up a number of aspects.
The problem in the story comes from weakness of characterisation. It’s possible that Cable has hidden reasons for not wanting to return Hope to the present day, but there’s no hint of them in the writing, and he simply comes across as being irrational for the sake of the plot. While the relationship between Cable and Deadpool is initially spot on, Nathan’s later insistence that Wade be executed is rather odd. After co-staring in their previous book for forty issues, both men developed an understanding of each other’s worth. The book’s other legacy problem also persists into this crossover, in the form of Ariel Olivetti’s curiously static art. As usual, Olivetti’s characters appear to come from a planet where the gravity is significantly stronger than on Earth, with the contrast of Mike Choi’s beautiful work in the first instalment accentuating the problem.
You can’t fault Swierczynski’s setting of mood, but you can fault his priorities. This is the writer who has just devoted a three-issue spin-off to establishing the motivation of his villain, while leaving the title character almost entirely one-dimensional. Here, he devotes five pages to explaining how Deadpool came to be alive in the 3000 A.D. setting, while leaving readers who haven’t knowledge of a four-year-old limited series none the wiser on the reasons for X23’s attitude to Hope. Part Two of the story succeeds in flashing out the situation, but there’s surprisingly little forward movement.