The end is nigh for Cable, friends. Well, in a few months at least. Cable #9 is the first issue since official word got out that Cable would be ending with June’s #12, and the issue is, somehow, improved with this knowledge. Cable #9 is a quiet issue, a pseudo-farewell tour for Kid Cable as he nears the inevitable return of his older, grizzled counterpart, and while not a thrilling masterclass in character work, it only proves how well this era has done by the improbably charming teenage time traveler.
Gerry Duggan (writer), Phil Noto (artist), Joe Sabino (lecturer)
March 24, 2021
Opening with a, frankly, adorable super-date between Nathan and Esme Cuckoo, the issue establishes the tone right out the gate. The pair sabotage an AIM spy submarine off the coast of Krakoa in a comedic riff that echoes both James Bond and Looney Tunes in equal measure. While the slapstick superheroics are a delight, the real winner is getting another glimpse of Superhero Super-Dad Scott Summers and Disapproving Mother Emma Frost. The pair are as entertaining as they’ve ever been in this series, and I truly hope once Cable has ended, we still get a spotlight for the two’s more domestic moments somewhere on Krakoa.
Next up on Cable’s guest list are Log–sorry, Patch, and Rachel Summers. Honestly, there isn’t a ton of meat in these two encounters. Logan is operating incognito as Patch is always good for a laugh, and I do love to see Rachel and Nathan get some more sibling time, but they feel closer to page-fillers than actual substantive scenes or character beats. Noto’s art is, of course, as gorgeous and expressive as ever, but even he can’t make these scenes fully click. The next guest star, Magik, is pure comedy which I generally have a fun time with for Ilyana, but I can’t help but feel Duggan slams the “Jokes Jokes Jokes” button too hard, as he has with Ilyana in the past. Bully-Teaching young mutants and giving fistbumps to demons in Limbo is fun, but punchlines like N’Astirh’s torture being a kazoo-filled rendition of “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” on loop just felt like it was trying too hard to be wacky for my tastes.
Thankfully, the final guest is one that is long overdue and provides the issue’s much-needed dramatic weight: Cable’s adopted daughter, Hope. The two have pointedly avoided seeing each other since the start of the Krakoan era and for a good reason. Cable killed his older self, who raised Hope but is still Cable, meaning Hope’s father is his own murderer while being younger than she is. The Summers Family, everybody! The awkward tension is palpable thanks to Noto’s mastery of expression work. It helps end the otherwise comedy-heavy issue on an impactful note as Nathan realizes he may not be the Cable Krakoa needs right now. The added bonus of clarification on Resurrection Protocol rules for duplicates of the same person is a nice touch and contributes to the simmering wider plot in other series like Hellions and New Mutants.
As one of the first ongoing X-Books to officially end in the Krakoan era (we don’t talk about Fallen Angels), it seems like an easy leap to assume it is getting cancelled and is going to have to rush to wrap up its story. Thankfully, Cable #9 proves this has been in the cards all along. With Nathan coming to terms with his being in over his head and touching base with everyone important in his life, things aren’t boring well for Kid Cable. I love the kid, and I hope he doesn’t go away for good, but Duggan and Noto are setting the stage for his curtain call, and it seems like it’s going to be a hell of a farewell.