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Sunday, 13 May 2018

Comics Explained: Cable

Deadpool 2 is out soon and its main antagonist is Cable. This will be Cable's first live action appearance despite the fact that he is a major figure in the X-Men universe. As time travel is intricately woven into Cable's backstory his history is extremely complicated - something in keeping with the history of his parents, Cyclops and Phoenix. As a result we won't go over everything in Cable's history and we'll instead look at some key aspects of Cable's life.

Cable has technically had two debuts: Uncanny X-Men #201 in 1986 and New Mutants #86 in 1990. X-Men writer Chris Claremont wanted Cyclops and his partner Madeline Pryor to become parents and after going into labor in X-Men #200 she gave birth to Nathan Summers the next issue. Through events which we'll explain later Nathan did not appear again under 1990 as the adult Cable. It took a while for Cable and Nathan to become the same person. Editor Rob Harris wanted to shake New Mutants up by introducing a new character to lead the group and writer Louise Simonson thought a military leader, as opposed to Professor X, would be a good fit. They charged artist Rob Liefeld, who also made Deadpool, to make the new character. He said: 
I was given a directive to create a new leader for the New Mutants. 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. After I named him Cable, Bob suggested Quinn and Louise had Commander X.
Cable would appear in New Mutants #86 in a brief cameo but he would make his full debut in the next issue. Meanwhile, in X-Factor it was decided to get rid of the baby Nathan and they decided to do this by sending him to the future which would open future possibilities for interesting stories. It was during Cable's own series, simply called Cable, starting in 1993 where it was decided to merge the two characters together: Cable was Nathan Summers from the future.
New Mutants #87, when Cable officially appeared

Cable's parenthood is confusing to say the least. Cable's father is Cyclops, Scott Summers, and his mother is Madeline Pryor who is confusing. One of the X-Men's main villains is Nathaniel Essex, Mr Sinister, who was a Victorian scientist obsessed with genetics. He became what he was thanks to Apocalypse, please see here, altering his biology and Sinister would later seek a way to destroy Apocalypse. Sinister became obsessed with Scott Summers and Jean Grey (Phoenix/Marvel Girl) and his eugenics inspired thinking made him believe that a child of Summers and Grey could destroy Apocalypse. However, Jean Grey was believed to have died (this later turned out to be false) so Sinister decided to clone Grey which led to the birth of Madeline Pryor. She eventually fell in love with Cyclops, married him, and became pregnant with who would become Nathan. However, the marriage was never strong due to Scott's withdrawn nature and longing for Jean, and this became worse when Jean turned out to be alive through the Phoenix force. Before Madeline could be discovered to be a clone Sinister had Nathan kidnapped in order to experiment on him. When Madeline succumbed to the darkness in her and caused a series of events leading to the opening of a gateway to a demonic dimension leading to her death Jean became Nathan's de facto mother. However, Apocalypse learnt of Sinister's plan to use Nathan so he had the infant kidnapped and infected him with the deadly Techno-Organic Virus - a virus which turns the host into a living machine. After they got Nathan back Cyclops was visited by Sister Askani from 2,000 years into the future when Apocalypse had taken power. Nathan would be their savior and they could cure him, but they were unable to return him to the past. Cyclops agreed to send Nathan to the future in order to cure him.
Baby Nathan infected with the virus
In the future Mother Askani feared that Nathan would succumb to the virus so she had him cloned just in case. Apocalypse then attacked and took the clone believing it to be the original Nathan. He raised the clone, calling him Stryfe, with the intention of using him as a vessel when his body failed. In The Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix we find out that Mother Askani had the minds of Cyclops and Phoenix sent to the future and placed in two bodies in order for them to raise Nathan. They trained him to use his powers. As the child of Cyclops and Phoenix he inherited both of their powers allowing him to be a powerful telepath and could use psionic blasts. Thanks to the Techno-Organic Virus parts of his body is basically a living machine giving him greater endurance and even regenerative abilities, his bionic eye also allows him to see on more parts of the electro-magnetic spectrum. As he grew up Nathan would fight Apocalypse and his forces, even going back in time to Ancient Egypt to infect Apocalypse with the Virus himself, and he adopted the name Cable.

New Mutants and X-Force
X-Force #1
Cable went back to our present when his clone Stryfe did. Stryfe had formed a mutant terrorist group named the Mutant Liberation Front (MLF) so he could become powerful. Cable went to fight Stryfe and the MLF but as they had kidnapped two members of the New Mutants Cable sought their help. The group brought in Cable and made him their leader, although it would be later that they found out that he was a time traveler. He was particularly interested in one member, Cannonball, whom he found out would survive until the twenty-third century. This led Cable to believe that Cannonball would later become a member of an ageless group called the Eternals so Cable hoped to shape him to be a force for good in the future. While in the New Mutants the team would fight Deadpool who was hired to take them out. With New Mutants #100 Cable decided to reshape the New Mutants into a more efficient fighting force leading to the formation of X-Force the next month in X-Force #1. It was in X-Force where we find out about Cable's time traveling backstory and constant battling against Stryfe and Apocalypse. In X-Force #18 Stryfe even impersonated Cable in order to try and kill Professor X. 

Cable and Deadpool, Messiah Complex and Cable Vol. 2
Deadpool and Cable were never the best of friends
In 2004 Cable teamed up with Deadpool in Cable & Deadpool until it was cancelled in 2008. Cable wanted to be a greater force for good in the world and turned his old spaceship into an island in the Pacific called Providence where the greatest minds in the world could come to plan how to make the world better. Meanwhile, Deadpool had been hired by 'The One-World Church' to get hold of a virus which could turn everyone in the world blue. Through a series of zany events they both get infected, turn the world pink, and then restore everything back to normal (while also accidentally merging their DNA together). After the initial story-arc Deadpool and Cable would square off against one another, or they would begrudgingly work together. It is quite likely that this comic would go on to inspire Deadpool 2. During the end of the run Cable detonated Providence seemingly killing him but he returned at the start of his own comic once more. This led up to the Messiah Complex story which started in 2007. Marvel did an event called House of M which led to most of Earth's mutants losing their powers in 'M-Day'. During Messiah Complex the X-Men find out that a new mutant has been born and when they go to the infant's town they find it destroyed by anti-mutant zealots. We find out that Cable has the baby girl whom he says will be the 'Mutant Messiah'. During this story and after Cable tries to protect the girl, whom he names Hope, from another time traveling member of the X-Men called Bishop. In Bishop's timeline mutants have been murdered systematically and the remainder are kept in concentration camps with 'M' tattooed on their faces as Hope would murder millions of humans. In contrast in Cable's timeline Hope was the one to unite mutants and humans. Hence, Cable wants to protect Hope, whom he adopts as a daughter, while Bishop wants to kill her. Throughout the years jumping through time Cable started succumbing to the Techno-Organic Virus as a teenaged Hope wanted to return to the present. In X-Force #28 Cable ends up sacrificing himself to keep a portal from the future open to allow the X-Force to go through which causes the Virus to overtake him.
Cable's death

Return and After
As always with comics Cable did not remain dead. In the lead up to Avengers vs. X-Men we find out that Cable was transported to the future. There he found out that the world fell apart because the Avengers killed Hope - Hope can harness the Phoenix force which has the potential to destroy the world. Cable returned to the present and beat several of the Avengers, including Captain America and Falcon, before being stopped by Cyclops. Hope does manage to use the Phoenix force to burn the Techno-Organic Virus to cure Cable who vows to protect her no matter what. Since then Cable reformed the X-Force and has fought alongside other superheroes, including having another comic with Deadpool. 
Cable in the Uncanny Avengers
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