Thursday, January 31, 2008

Joe Casey Comics: Cable #55

[Continuing my look at Joe Casey's run on Cable. New posts Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.]

Joe Casey's run on Cable is marked by tensions between the character's past and future, as well as his role in the X-universe and the larger Marvel universe--tensions this issue highlights.

Firstly, Casey sets Cable up in Hell's Kitchen, putting him on par with Daredevil specifically, but also with Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and the Avengers. While the X-Men have operated everywhere in the world except for New York, basically (although there were exceptions, obviously), Cable is breaking from that tradition and joining the ranks of the other heroes, in a sense. Casey places Cable within the tradition of these heroes and does his best in this issue to expand upon that by having Cable confront/meet three women--one a past love interest, one a current companion of sorts and the other a future love interest. This is Peter Parker-esque melodrama, not the typical type of story found in the pages of Cable.

Cable has returned to New York and stops in at Babel's, a diner in Hell's Kitchen where he flirts with the waitress, Stacey. This flirtation is interrupted by Irene, Cable's "chronicler," who is pissed off about being left in Switzerland in a telepathically-induced sleep while Cable went on to Apocalypse's hibernation chamber to combat Sebastian Shaw and Donald Pierce. The confrontation between Irene and Cable is interrupted by Stacey and then put on hold while Cable goes home and finds Domino waiting for him. They exchange words and she leaves, their relationship at an end.

Casey is pushing Cable in a direction that moves away from his past while, at the same time, enforcing it. While elements like Domino no longer fit in, Blaquesmith does. The issue begins with a beautiful splash by Ladronn that features this giant creature that's partly machine standing in a fiery wasteland over the bodies of Cyclops, Marvel Girl (Jean Grey is in a more classic costume for some reason), Cannonball, Professor X and Magneto. This turns out to be all in Blaquesmith's head and he doesn't know if it's a hallucination or a vision of the future. He's trapped somewhere and needs Cable to rescue him. As Blaquesmith ties into Cable's role as savior and slayer of Apocalypse, he fits into Casey's new direction, while Domino is more an element of the best-left-forgotten Liefeld roots of the character (that's my phrasing as Casey doesn't seem as anti-Liefeld as most considering his rescripting the original Youngblood series and writing the newest version of the book).

At the same time, someone has hired a superpowered assassin to hunt down and kill Domino. Casey roots him in the Marvel universe by having him stay with Speed Demon, who appears out of costume and mocks his former group, including the Beetle for going straight (a reference to Thunderbolts--an interesting one, too, as it suggests that other supervillains knew the true identities of the group, perhaps).

It's worth noting that the guest stars or villains in most future issues are not from the X-books, but people like Rama-Tut, SHIELD, Nick Fury and the Avengers--along with the Black Panther in last issue.

Despite this, Casey sees that Cable is able to fit into the larger Marvel universe because he has unique attributes and is different from the rest of the heroes. These differences aren't explored in this issue, but the next will demonstrate a key difference--although his mission puts him in a different class of hero, that of the hero on a quest, which is different from most Marvel heroes who live the much more realistic day-to-day lifestyle. Although, by having Cable get a cup of coffee and a bagel burger, Casey introduces an element of the mundane not found in the book previously.

Ladronn's art with its Kirby influences helps place Cable within the Marvel universe as well. And it's gorgeous. Sadly, this issue suffers from printing errors that blur/smudge the art and lettering on six pages (three at the beginning, three at the end). Not the last time this happens, either.

Until next time.