X of Swords is here! The sprawling 22-part epic has arrived and, surprising no one, Krakoa’s favorite psychic teenager with a big space-sword is joining the party. As it is with most event tie-in comics, the question is how well it succeeds as both a piece of the XoS event and an issue of Cable itself. The answer? Pretty dang well.
Gerry Duggan (writer), Phil Noto (artist), and Joe Sabino (letterer).
October 14th, 2020
Picking up after the events of X of Swords: Creation, Cable #5 has our lead exploring the eerily empty Peak, the abandoned orbital HQ of S.W.O.R.D. While potentially a bit jarring for anyone who is just reading Cable and not the rest of the X of Swords tapestry (you shouldn’t do this, X of Swords has been great so far), Duggan goes out of his way to provide just enough expository dialogue to let readers get their bearings. While there are a few moments that might leave Swords-less folks scratching their heads, none of these bits of synergy are intrusive enough to derail the main story.
That story — Cable and his parents Cyclops and Jean Grey creeping their way through the echoing halls of The Peak — is a decently thrilling one. An engaging balance of light sci-fi horror and family superheroics pulls back on the teen comedy-heavy tone from the series’ first arc to let the unsettling atmosphere settle in. The humor isn’t absent, of course, Cable is still Cable, and it leads to some of the issue’s best moments.
If nothing else in this volume of Cable lasts, I can only hope Gerry Duggan’s pitch-perfect grasp of Cyclops as The Ultimate Dad sticks around. From chiding Nathan about not practicing his telepathy as often as he should to commenting on the sloppiness of a weld, Cable’s Cyclops would be at home equally on the battlefield as well as a weekend excursion to Lowe’s for a new grill. Unfortunately, Duggan’s Jean suffers a bit in comparison but does feature in the most unsettling scene in the issue, and it’s a delight, as always, to see her drawn by Phil Noto.
Where the issue falters is, oddly, its big action beats. When the Summers family is working their way through the cosmic haunted house or touching base with the X of Swords goings-on with Magik back on Krakoa, it is a lot of fun and comes together as a cohesive whole. Noto’s art has always been at its best when dealing with very human moments and emotion-heavy exchanges, and between the familial banter and creeping horror, he has plenty to work with here.
Once the threat that wiped out most of S.W.O.R.D., an interdimensional scourge known as the Vescora, is revealed, however, the title reverts to a rushed and unsatisfying clash. While the Vescora seem to be a threat that will show up again sooner rather than later (whether that will be in the pages of Cable or in the recently announced SWORD ongoing that he also appears in is unclear), it is the most blatant example of clearing room for the requisite Event Synergy pages in the tie-in. Thankfully, they’re good enough to keep the whole thing afloat.
Crossover event tie-ins are always a toss-up. Sometimes a creative team is able to use whatever world-ending disaster is shaking the universe to their advantage and strengthen both their title and the event itself. Others end up feeling like a passionless waste of time that interrupts an otherwise enjoyable series. Cable #5 isn’t the best tie-in I’ve ever read, but it is a rock-solid one and absolutely worth reading. Whether you’re in it for Kid Cable dealing with his super-parents or picking up the latest chapter of X of Swords, Cable #5 is a good time.