Thursday, January 17, 2008

Joe Casey Comics: Cable #51

[And so we finally get into Joe Casey's 20-issue run on Cable with his first Marvel work, issue 51. New posts Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.]

This comic pissed me off when I first saw it. At the time, I was subscribing to Cable and X-Force (Christmas and birthday gifts from my grandma) and had been doing so for a couple of years. I wasn't that enthused with Cable after Jeph Loeb left the book, but James Robinson coming aboard seemed like new life for the title and had me hoping for a Warren-Ellis-on-Thor sort of thing where a crappy book suddenly becomes awesome and blows my young mind. Instead of Mike Deodato, Cable had the wonder that is Ladronn and I was feeling it, people. Every new issue just hooked me and had me entranced.

And then issue 51 came out with some guy named Joe Casey as writer. What. The. FUCK? "Who is the hell is Joe Casey?" I must have thought, because who the hell was Joe Casey? Since I subscribed, I usually got my issue in the mail a couple of weeks after it appeared in comic shops--and since my dad is an obsessive X-book collector, I saw his copy of the issue and noticed "Casey" on the cover where "Robinson" should have been. Normally, I didn't read my dad's copies of Cable and X-Force as I didn't want to spoil it for when my sub copies arrived, but this time, I broke that rule (slightly) as I opened the book to the credits and noticed that, yeah, Joe Casey wrote the goddamn comic and where the fuck was James Robinson, assholes? I flipped through the issue and then put it back down, not wanting to break my rule too much.

When the issue finally arrived, it seemed typical enough, not all that different, but also lacking that certain something. I hoped that maybe Robinson suffered some terrible bout of the flu or some other minor illness that kept him from actually writing this issue, but would be back in action for issue 52. Robinson did get a special thanks credit, which meant he probably did the story and some editorial assistant finished the book for him because of deadline concerns. The lack of a letter page in the issue annoyed me, because that was clearly where this whole bungle would be explained.

And now I look back on that whole strange incident with ironic fondness as Cable #51 introduced me to Joe Casey, a guy who's writing I've followed almost obsessively since. Isn't it funny how things turn out?

But, what do I think of the issue ten years later? (Jesus Christ, it's only been ten years since Joe Casey's first comic!) To make things interesting, let's do it real time-style!

1:40: Read first ten pages and they flow well with Robinson's work. Irene narrates and recaps the story while Cable is all mysterious and "I want you to chronicle my life but you should sit at home and wait for me to tell you what happened even though I rarely do that." So, they go to Switzerland and are ambushed by a whole squardon (or whatever you'd call them) of the Hellfire Club's personal guard people. Cable kills many of them and is rescued by some elderly German man who offers them a place to stay.

Casey's narration is a little clunky and obvious, but not that much worse than Robinson's. Is that a sign that Casey started off pretty decent or that Robinson just wasn't that good?

1:46: Adam comes home and I talk to him a little before reading two more pages where we learn that Wilhelm (the old German guy) moved to Switzerland after the war and is a Believer--while Irene gets her first taste of Cable inside her mind.

2:47: I watch TV with Adam, including some Daily Show where the interview is edited up and just makes Stewart look like a idiotic douchebag.

2:55: I finish the comic. Only three scenes make up the second half of the issue. First, Ch'vayre, Shaw and Pierce are in the Alps, closing in on Apocalypse's lair so they can harness his power for their own uses. Of course, Ch'vayre is only doing this to get Cable off his ass--but he still wonders if he's doing the right thing. We get a pointless flashback to his first meeting with Shaw that just reveals that Ch'vayre is from the future, which we already knew because Sanctity sent him back in time (revealed in issue 50). The final scene has Cable using his powers to read Wilhelm's mind and discovers that he is the Master Man, the Nazis' answer to Captain America.

I actually like that Cable just invades Wilhelm's mind, it demonstrates a lot about his character and his difference from other characters. Where Professor X and Jean Grey respect the private rights of people, Cable reasons that it's his job to save the world, so if a few people's minds get read in the process, that's the price, deal with it. We've seen Cable willing to kill up until now, but this willingness to go against typical hero morals sets him apart further. It begins Casey's attempt to distinguish this book from every other title on the shelf, no longer relying on the '90s mentality of "It has a mutant, so you should read it just 'cause."

Ladronn's work is fantastic. As always. Yes, I'm going to say that every time.

Not quite a "bursting onto the scenes" beginning for Casey, but I've read far worse first comics.