Cable #7

Duane Swierczynski's Cable series might be the weirdest comic book out there right now. It's full of more insane tone changes and shifts in time and style more than your favorite avant-garde indie. Dunno how conscious it was, but everything about the comic is directed towards being nothing like a comic book starring Cable should be. It started with the plot, which stuck an adorable baby girl in Cable's arm, making it fairly impossible for him to look cool or bad-ass, and it's just sort of spiralled out from there.

In this issue, Cable's living sometime in the future in some weird middle-of-nowhere future town, with a wife and kid. Obviously, this domestic scene's going to be interrupted, but from the minute we see Cable in the situation, it's a little absurd and it's more the place he's ended up than the place he wants to be. It follows the "Lone Wolf & Cub"/"Man With No Name" genre conventions Swierczynski's been playing with: This is the gunslinger or samurai in old-age, trying to get away from it all, but inevitably pulled back in, in part because he wants to pulled back in.

The first time we see Cable in his new setting, it's through a jarring cut away from the issue-opening scene of classic "X-Men" action where Bishop's just got his arm lopped off, to the baby (also aged a few years) racing into Cable's bedroom screaming and leaping onto the bed to wake him (and wife?!). A clever close-up by Olivetti reveals a wedding-ring on one of his metal fingers (itself a sort of absurd image) and it's followed by a woken-up-too-early and grumbling Cable.
The whole thing is sort of intended to be a surprise after the fairly conventional--although slower-paced--X-action we've seen in the series so far. Each frame reveals a small piece of information, the girl running into the room (she's much older now), Cable waking up (why isn't he protecting her closely?), Cable's wife next to him (he's got a wife), Cable grumbling like an angry dad (Cable's like a real dad at this point?). There's also a quick joke that interrupts Cable's thoughts--which are written in a kind of Hemingway hard-ass direct-ness--as he's observing the little girl he says, "I wonder how much you remember", and she's drawing a stick figure with a star on one of its eyes and a belt with a big "X" on it, a smiling little girl next to the figure, and burning buildings all around. Apparently, she remembers a lot.

At the same time of course, what's at stake in this series is very serious and dire. Cable has "the mutant messiah" and is going to great odds to protect it from Bishop who intends to kill it. There's all kinds of interesting but sorta obvious stuff about how and what this "messiah" will do when she grows up and ethical debates of what killing her "now" will and won't do, but other people can discuss that. It's awesome but normal comic book stuff, and what makes Cable so weird is that it mixes this comic book stuff with a kind of weird distance and comfort with absurdity that's somehow not mocking comics and continuity. It has neither the irony of the new Deadpool series and it isn't dead-serious like the "Messiah Complex" arch that Cable feeds into, it's awkwardly working some ground between the two, where it's all pretty serious and pretty silly too.

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