11/12/2008

Cable #8 by Duane Swierczynski and Ariel Olivetti

This Cable series has probably been one of the most consistently satisfying comics that I pick up on a monthly basis. It's not really an instant classic like The Depths or All Star Superman, but it's always there and always good. Like Brandon wrote in his praises of issue 7, the series has a distinct Lone Wolf and Cub feel, especially how both Cable and Bishop are shown to both be these honorable guys but on opposite sides of the conflict.

Leading up to this issue, Cable has landed a wife and pretty much settled down to a quiet life, even burying his weapons under concrete. Meanwhile, Bishop has been captured by the X-men, now lead by uber-douche Cyclops. Some of the best moments in this issue are Bishop's response to the torture or Cyclops and the White Queen. These scenes are disturbing because Olivetti shows the pain to Bishop with drool coming out of his mouth, but also because this is the X-Men doing the torture. Only Beast is there to call Cyclops out on his dubious methods and even he's sort of lost the backbone to stand against him like a true X-Man would.

To me, this is clearly a metaphor for what's been going on with the U.S. and their policies towards torture. There's actually an interesting moment in Young X-Men #1 where the new X-Men question Cyclops' methods and he responds that everything has changed since M-day. I think Cable does a good job of showing how complex the issue is. Bishop is obviously this sicko messing with the time stream, ripping out peoples hearts and arms, and even causing global-scale catastrophes, but the comic still shows him as this guy who has honor by fighting for what he believes in.

The series has evolved each issue. It's hard now to think back to issue #1 where it had more of the tone of a 70s post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie. It's not that there have been many momentous events that have taken Cable from issue #1 to #8. The whole series can be summed up with Bishop chasing Cable through time. What has changed are the characters' personalty. Over the course of the series, you can see Bishop grow increasingly more desperate and insane, while Cable grows into the wise battle-weary father he is in this latest issue. This is what makes this series special. You can get action in any comic you pick up, but rarely do comics measure out suspense and character development like Cable.

8 comments:

david e. ford, jr said...

jesse-

i also love this series and enjoyed this issue. that said, i basically had a big problem with the whole bishop being tortured sequence in part because its topicality may have been relevant like a year ago, but also because i think it obscured the major issue of torture--its effectiveness. in my view, if you build your policy against torture solely on the notion that it is "wrong," there is going to come a point in time when that will be re-assessed (see u. s. history of last seven years). however, if you base such a policy on the evidence that torture is ineffective, it becomes infinitely more solid.

samuel rules said...

I'm going to go ahead and say Marvel is making Cyclops this awesome character. His mutant power is basically that he's this douche bag who is into tactics and shit, but now they're just making that this bad ass thing. In some recent issue the X-Men are fighting off a bunch of Sentinels and Cyc finally goes "Alright, you asked for it" and let's loose on all the robots, pulling off his visor and Wolverine is just like "That's why you're the leader." I was sold

Jesse Reese said...

david-
I liked the torture stuff in this issue because I thought it did a good job of being complex. I thought it showed tortures ineffectiveness pretty well. The White Queen has to sift through Bishop's head and can't tell which memories are real. But I don't necessarily think it's arguing against torture. Bishop is obviously this guy who's not entirely sympathetic. And Beast's argument is pretty pathetic. He's shown tinkering with that mechanical arm without any viable alternative. I don't think it sheds Cyclops in a terrible light either. He's comes off as more desperate than anything else. I thought the issue took multiple stances on torture and made it even better using those stances to help expand the characters personalities.

sammy-
I definitely agree. I think they are finally realizing cyclops is this character you love to hate. He makes these shitty choices but he's getting stuff done and you can at least respect that.

brandon said...

What makes the torture stuff in Cable not so obvious or terrible is we KNOW FOR A FACT that stopping Bishop will prevent catastrophe. But we still end up empathizing.

Is it just me or does it feel really cynical and played-out to be dealing with torture stuff now that Obama's president? I know that's silly but it's sort of my feeling now towards this or 'DMZ' or whatever else

david e. ford, jr said...

jesse-

i definitely see your point, and i think you are probably right about its allowing for the complexity. where it sort of got me to the point where i basically wasnt having it was the way that the debate between cyclops and beast was played out, like they cast beast as this nagging schoolmarm and cyclops as this stand-in for the bush administration circa 2006 complete with stock responses (beast: so in other words, you're TORTURING him now? cyclops: this is just an AGGRESSIVE INTERROGATION).

brandon-

i think that's like, another reason it irked me--obama's in, the argument is over, the pro-aggressiveinterrogation crowd lost this time. i mean, obviously this comic was penned months before the election took place, but still. and seriously, if DMZ doesn't declare itself irrelevant and wrap up, i'll never buy anther DC comic again!

david e. ford, jr said...

oh, and sammy, "his mutant power is basically that he is this douche bag . . . "

well put. HA!

Jonathan said...

I understand everyone's feelings about the election and that it should lay to rest a lot of the stories and quirks provided by the Bush Admin, but I think you're all jumping the gun here. To be honest, I dont read Cable, but I do follow DMZ closely. But I think on both fronts, there is going to be a lot that either might not happen, or will be a lot more difficult than our president elect would hope, through no fault of his own. The USS Empire is a HUGE ship (think of the military budget), and it is going to take a lot of force to redirect its momentum and change course.

I think writers will have a lot to draw from as far as political criticisms, even things (like torture) that will probably hobble, stagger, and limp into our new presidents term, until they are finally put out of commission (I hope).

david e. ford, jr said...

jonathan-

i think you are basically right, and i hope that you got a chance to read my later post and my comments on brian's live journal, in which i sort of fleshed out my thoughts. of course, part of the reason i focused so closely on DMZ in the later post was that i definitely think the shots that were taken at it here were ultimately too hasty and a little unfair.

there will always be room (and a need) for artists in whatever medium to reflect and comment upon events in our nation and the world. at the same time, the incoming president has an enormous amount of work ahead of him cleaning up even a portion of the mess that has been made of this country. one of the differences (just one) is that he appears to be legitimately as outraged as the rest of us in terms of the legacy of bush 43.

in any event, i do appreciate your taking the time to read and comment on what we are doing here.

-david