Saturday, February 09, 2008

Joe Casey Comics: Cable #59

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

"The Nemesis Contract" begins here, a four-part storyline that resolves some of Cable's difficulties, introduces SHIELD agent Jack Truman (who will star in Casey Deathlok series) and gives us Ladronn's most Kirby-esque work.

First off, this is probably the best-looking issue of Casey's run so far. I don't know if Marvel changed printers or paper or what, but the colours look amazing. As well, the lettering has been changed and works well, although there are a few problem spots--nothing major, but any time a bolded word follows an unbolded word, they tend to run together.

Cable is going to die very soon because of his techno-organic virus and lack of telekinetic abilities. The psimitar isn't helping as expected. But, he carries on nonetheless.

Much of the issue is devoted to Truman, a SHIELD headhunter so buried in the system that were he ever caught doing his very illegal activities, no one would be able to trace him back to SHIELD... except for the fact that he often walks around in a SHIELD uniform. Am I the only one who finds that odd? No one is supposed to know Truman exists and his activities in Hell's Kitchen in capturing Cable are to be top-secret as well, yet, on the final page, he's in full SHIELD uniform.

The fact that Truman wears the uniform when facing Cable references the fact that Truman labels Cable a "hero" when SHIELD calls him a "terrorist." Truman recognises how Cable views himself and, in order to fight Cable, he enters that reality. He draws Cable out by using Zzzax, an energy-based "supervillain" (albeit mindless)--one that immediately goes after Cable when it sees him as he is in costume and is the hero. Once Zzzax is defeated, Truman replaces him as the villain in Cable's superhero narrative and the best way to do that is to also garb himself in bright colours. His uniform reflects Cable's in colour and style, as well--and Truman carries a big gun, again mirroring Cable in many ways. Truman and Cable are foils for one another, two very similar men that, because of circumstance, find themselves on opposite sides in a completely non-personal fight. I don't think it's a coincidence that Truman's appearance is opposite Cable's as well--with his short, black hair, he looks the part completely. Appropriately, it's only when Cable adopts a similar appearance to Truman in later issues when he's able to defeat him.

Note how this issue furthers Casey's goal of having Cable integrate with the larger Marvel universe by having his enemies in this issue be Zzzax (whose last appearance was over a decade previously in an issue of The Incredible Hulk and SHIELD, and the battleground is Hell's Kitchen rather than space or Westchester or somewhere global. I'm almost surprised Daredevil didn't make an appearance, actually.

As well, this issue contains another scene with Stacey the waitress as Casey furthers that romantic subplot by introducing Stacey's little brother, Kenny. Casey adds an interesting twist by giving Kenny down syndrome, giving Cable more reason to feel empathy for Stacey as well as demonstrate how being a mutant gives Cable a different perspective on something like that. I notice that it also pushes Cable into falling into his natural "savior" role as he sees Stacey as someone who needs help. It's not overt yet (and I'm not sure it ever becomes so, actually), but she's working as a waitress in a bad part of town to put herself through nursing school while raising her kid brother with down syndrome--she doesn't actually need saving, but it puts Cable in a position where he can try to do so nonetheless, mirroring his larger mission.

Ladronn's art here is crisp and clean. Lots of panels per usual, all very rectangular and in an easy-to-follow grid appearance. His layouts are very basic, but work well with a book that is in the process of becoming a more traditional superhero book and fitting into the Marvel universe.

Next issue, Cable fights Jack Truman and loses.