Cable Vol. 2: The Newer Mutants offers a straightforward ’90s-flavored adventure with problematic art.
I typically don’t read collections unless I’ve read the volumes that came before them, fearing I’ve missed key story beats in the series. But having been impressed with the work writer Ed Brisson’s done on Old Man Logan, I had to give his take on Cable a chance.
That’s right, I’m here for the Brisson, and not artist Jon Malin–whose recent online antics have made him… a problematic figure in the comics landscape. But more on that later.
Now, as I said before, I haven’t read Cable Vol. 1: Conquest, but Nathan Summers’ new status quo seems to be protecting the timestream at all costs. In this volume, Cable’s on the trail of a time-traveling murderer, determined to wipe out the thought-to-be immortal Externals. Remember the Externals, classic X-Force fans? Then keep reading, because this book is for you!
In order to successfully track down and stop the mysterious killer, Cable must recruit a team… of Newer Mutants! While I’m not quite sure why Cable chose Longshot, Shatterstar, X-23, Armor and Doop out of all the mutants he could have plucked from Marvel history, they certainly make for an entertaining group. Then, in a playful nod to the Marvel Legacy initiative, Brisson literally brings one of the most iconic characters of the ’90s to the era that birthed him.
The Newer Mutants isn’t the Dark Phoenix Saga, but it does its job well–giving readers an entertaining Cable adventure that reminds them of the hero’s eXtreme glory days. Of course, whenever you’re playing with time travel, you risk losing readers. And I’ll admit, at times I was a bit confused as to when in time we were, as we jump around quite a bit (maybe? See, I’m still confused).But to Brisson’s credit, the unique mix of personalities managed to distract me from my confusion. The lightness of Longshot, Armor and Doop provides a nice balance to the warrior instincts of Cable, Shatterstar and X-23. And apparently, if Marvel ever wanted to have its own Fast and Furious franchise, they need look no further than Doop as the lead… this guy’s got one of the most colorful backstories in comics.
On this story arc’s first page, Longshot asks Cable what’s changed in the future, to which Cable replies, “Phones got smaller, then bigger again.” That’s funny, and the kind of humor only a time-traveling character like Cable can deliver. But… beyond that, I have to admit, Cable’s kind of a boring character, which is probably why I don’t have a lot of interest in running out and reading Cable Vol. 1. Well, maybe I’m being unfair to the son of Cyclops. He’s one of those tough-talking, all-action characters I personally just don’t find interesting as a reader. While he’s front and center throughout this collection, Cable just takes a backseat to far more charismatic characters like Longshot and Armor. It made me wonder if Cable’s ever been interesting, or if he’s always just been that big, pouch-loving, future soldier.
I’ve talked a lot about the writing so far, which means it’s time to revisit Mr. Malin. This is an artist who is very clearly influenced by those wicked cool styles readers remember digging in the ’90s. I started reading X-Men comics in that decade, so I remember it well. And I also remember looking back on that era after it ended and realizing how terrible so much of it was, so it’s odd to me that so many fans and creators seem to want to bring back the ’90s.
Especially those terrible parts, like images that are designed to look cool more than make sense. Like ridiculously long hair and pony tails (even tied back, it can’t be safe fighting with all that hair, Shatterstar). Speaking of ridiculous, there sure are a lot of butt shots in this book. Selene, X-23–even a female robot–whatever your taste is, there’s a butt shot for you! Joss Whedon’s teenaged Armor is also sexed up for this story (in her revealing American flag shirt). This is very much art for teenage boys. But since teenagers don’t read comics these days, I guess this art is just for grown men who want to make comics sexy again.
And you can’t really talk about this story without mentioning the controversy around Blink’s costume. You know Blink, the fan-favorite character who blew up thanks to her appearances in the Age of Apocalypse storyline. Well, Blink has a very… revealing costume this time around, courtesy of Malin. The artist was called out on Twitter for putting the beloved character in such a tacky costume in 2017 and he didn’t take too kindly to it. Here is the costume as it appeared in the original solicitation for Cable #153:And here’s how it appeared on the finished cover:Marvel clearly buckled to the backlash (not nearly enough, in my opinion), but the problem that is Malin remained.
This creator seems to have no problem offending readers with his nonsense thoughts on Twitter (“SJWs are not Nazis but Nazis are SJWs and X-MEN aren’t SJWs“) and pushing the toxic anti-SJW talking points currently poisoning the comics community. Does Marvel really want to give work to an artist who clearly supports a movement that has no problem harassing other Marvel talent? Does Marvel even want a guy like Malin working on the X-Men franchise which, I thought, was about encouraging tolerance?
Anyway, I’ve given this guy more attention than he deserves.
While I can’t recommend this volume’s visuals, I’d say you should pick it up if you’re an old-school Cable and X-Force fan that looks back on the ’90s with fondness. Or if you still have your Gideon and Krule action figures from the ToyBiz X-Force line. Because who would have ever thought those figures would still be relevant all these years later?