X of Swords rages on, and since the last time we checked in with everyone’s favorite time-tossed tactical teen…a whole lot of shit happened. Cable #6 is Chapter 19 of the event when Cable #5 was Chapter 8, so it might be more than a little jarring if you are a reader who, for whatever reason, is only reading Cable out of the entire X-Line. If you’re following along with X of Swords, however, you’ll be treated to one of the best issues of the event and the best issue of Cable so far.
Gerry Duggan (writer), Phil Noto (artist), Joe Sabino (letterer)
November 18th, 2020
The story is built around two fights, Cable vs. Bei of the Blood Moon and Gorgon vs. The White Sword. Unlike a lot of XoS challenges, both of these are straight-up sword fights, and it works beautifully. Whereas the previous chapters of X of Swords have had Krakoa and Arakko facing off in everything from drinking contests to arm-wrestling matches, now that the end is in sight, the games have grown grim and deadly serious.
Cable vs. Bei is not a long fight, lasting a handful of pages, but it excels as both a visual showcase and a testament to Cable’s growth as a character. Fueled by an inner monologue about making his dad proud, Cable gets the drop on the Arakii swordswoman, and…he can’t do it. Blade in hand, foe at his feet, and all Cable can think about is how killing Cypher’s new bride (a plot development that leads to an incredibly funny Jean Grey moment from Noto) will hurt him.
Bei, the trained warrior that she is, of course, takes advantage and snaps the boy’s arm in two before Cypher is able to plead for mercy. Cable loses the match but establishes something vital. He is no longer the same man he was. Sure, he has been a younger version of himself who has to deal with his mom and dad since he showed up in X-Force, but he was still Cable at his core. But this time, he had an enemy who was actively trying to kill him dead to rights, and couldn’t go through with the killing. That’s something new.
Cable’s vulnerability continues through a psychic conversation with Jean Grey and Cyclops, covered in muck and tears the entire time. Earlier in X of Swords, Saturnyne gave Cable the Fool card. I’m no expert in tarot, but between playing several Persona games and having much smarter friends, it’s now clear why that was the card chosen for him. The Fool represents a new beginning, someone with little experience embarking on a journey that changes them. Cable has been changed by X of Swords, but not how you might think. In the face of life-or-death consequences and bloodshed, he has turned away. The gun-toting grizzled champion of his people is gone, and the kid wearing his nametag is just figuring that out.
Duggan really makes a meal of this issue, as does Noto (with the final page as an uncharacteristically weak exception). Effortlessly juggling fantastic fight scenes, weighty personal drama, and just enough punches of humor to break the tension, it a creative team playing to each other’s strengths to great success. If Cable continues well beyond X of Swords, I hope both of them stick around for the length of its run as they’ve clearly found a winning formula.
I don’t want to go too much further in-depth, as the Gorgon vs. White Sword fight is both absolutely fantastic and full of surprises. Cable #6 is excellent, easily one of the best issues of the event thus far and the height of Cable’s series. It sets the stage for some severe self-evaluation from its lead and a thrilling climax to X of Swords and really shouldn’t be missed.