Monday, January 12, 2009

Cable #7-10

"Waiting for the End of the World"
Writer: Duane Swierczynski
Artist: Ariel Olivetti
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Editor: Axel Alonso

With its second arc, Cable remains a strangely off-kilter book. The series has already chosen an unusual direction: Cable has been entrusted with protecting the newborn mutant from "Messiah Complex", and to do that, he's taken her into the future. Unfortunately, with Bishop on his tail and with his time machine broken so that he can't go back, he's ended up heading further and further into what seems an increasingly unpromising future timeline.

Deliberately setting your series outside mainstream continuity is a somewhat risky move, and it's not altogether clear that it's paid off in commercial terms. But this arc goes for a parallel structure: half the story is devoted to Cable in the far future, and the other half has Bishop returning to the present and getting interrogated by the X-Men.

There are some rather nice ideas here. Bishop apparently believes that if he manages to kill the baby, then he'll hit the cosmic reset button - so his strategy is to gather up weapons of mass destruction and destroy the world. That's a nice little conceit, and a potentially fun idea. It also neatly plays on the idea that alternate futures don't "count", something that even Cable seemed to believe in the early issues.

But the resulting comic has a number of curious features. The cast is minimal and spartan - the child barely qualifies as a character at this stage - and for all the talk of world-destroying chaos and wars over North America, all we see is a few people in a farming community besieged by giant cockroaches. The epic scale suggested by the plot is singularly absent from the page. I assume this is a deliberate choice, partly reinforcing Bishop's argument that none of this really counts, but it makes for a rather unfulfilling read.

The story often seems contrived. The series is bending over backwards not to offer an explanation for why Bishop wants to kill the baby - which would be fine, if it didn't keep putting him in a position where he would logically want to explain himself. The attempts to gloss over this are cursory at best - of the "you wouldn't believe me anyway" variety - and it just doesn't fly. Making matters worse, Bishop's plan seems to involve crossing his fingers and hoping that the X-Men will open a box in another state at precisely the right moment for maximum dramatic effect. You can't help but roll your eyes at that.

Still... Cable is certainly trying something different, and it has its own unique, if somewhat desolate, feel. I do admire the effort, but something about the finished product doesn't engage me.

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