With X of Swords in the rearview, Cable has returned from a brief hiatus to check-in with its sword-wielding mutant teen lead. Cable’s spotlight moments in X of Swords proved to be some of the event’s most emotionally powerful, putting the cocky kid through the emotional wringer and leaving him with a newfound sense of duty and purpose, as well as a role in SWORD’s ensemble cast. While Cable #7 is a great issue, easily in line with the series’ standard of quality, it can’t help but feel a bit out of step with the rest of the X-Line.
Gerry Duggan (writer), Phil Noto (artist), Joe Sabino (letterer).
January 20, 2021
Picking up immediately after XoS with a beachside wake for Gorgon, the issue quickly dives back into the missing mutant baby plotline from earlier in the series. This time, however, Nate is joined by his favorite time-displaced sister, Rachel. Much like the previous issues, Cable #7 is at its best when dealing with Summers family dynamics. The entire sibling team-up is just delightful and so pleasant to see, given the massive age gap and general distance the two have shared for most of their history. Doubly so considering the Family Road Trip style bickering the pair engaged in recently in Hickman’s X-Men.
Cable 7 – Duggan, Noto and Sabino – Marvel Comics – 01/20/21Noto’s art is back in full force after a slight dip in #6, and it is just gorgeous. In particular, his rendition of Rachel is one of my favorite looks for her and stands up right alongside Baldeon’s downright definitive design over in X-Factor. The pink-purple filter applied to the scenes where we view the world via Rachel’s powers in particular really pops. Even Noto’s usual weak spot, a lack of kinetic energy to his art, is mostly absent as the significant action set piece of the issue is a blast to read.
Following the action, we get another Summers Family Dinner, which is always welcome. The heaviest emotional best of the issue, however, comes after Cable ducks out early. Frustrated with himself and the revelation that Stryfe, his alternate future self, is behind the baby abductions, Cable lashes out and punches his bedroom wall. It’s a simple but very grounded and all-too-real reaction for a big flashy superhero like Cable. The perfect cue for King of Repression Scott Summers to give some fatherly advice.
Rather than scold his son or punish him, Scott finds common ground with Nathan. Admitting it’s something he has done before, Cyclops tells his son to take a breath and let things settle for a moment, a simple bit of advice that I myself use whenever I’m particularly annoyed. It’s not a long scene, or treated with any sort of particular gravity, but after so many years of being an outright terrible father, it is nice to see Scott genuinely trying to connect with and help his children.
Now you may be asking yourself, “Zoe, it seems like you dug this issue a lot. What was that opening bit about it feeling out of step?” Well, reader, I’ve got to say…you’re right! I did dig this issue. It’s a lot of fun, home to some excellent character work while also being top-to-bottom gorgeous. But in a post-X of Swords world where books like New Mutants, X-Factor, and Excalibur feel like they are driving forward with the triumphant energy and wild ideas the event left for the X-Office, Cable feels like it’s still going through the pre-XoS paces. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the complete absence of any acknowledgment of SWORD.
For folks who, for some reason, are reading Cable but not the absolutely fantastic new SWORD ongoing from Al Ewing and Valerio Schitti: Why? Seriously, go read SWORD. Cable is in it! Building off his experiences in X of Swords, the book has him taking on the solemn responsibility as security director of the mutant space program. And yet, Cable #7 contains absolutely no references or nods to his new role. In the hyper-connected and coordinated Reign of X era, this absence is a glaring omission that hurts the title and makes it feel distant from the rest of the pack.
Cable #7 isn’t bad! And with Domino and Stryfe on the horizon and Teen Cable’s hilariously complicated relationship with both of them, I am sure the series will continue to be a fun ride. But, with the X-Line churning out some of the best and most boundary-pushing work the franchise has ever seen…just a fun ride with some emotional punches doesn’t go as far as it did a few months ago.