As a new era of the X-Men gets underway, writers Lonnie Nadler and Zac Thompson and artist Neil Edwards will close the book on another mutant tale – that of the recently deceased Cable.
In this week’s X-Men: The Exterminated #1, Nadler and Thompson craft a lead story that examines the impact the now dead Cable had on the lives of other mutants, particularly his daughter Hope and mother Jean Grey.
With the full ramifications of Extermination still to come and a new world about to be birthed in the upcoming reality-altering tale “Age of X-Man,” Newsarama spoke to Thompson and Nadler about bridging the gap between Extermination and “Age of X-Man” and about what’s in store for Hope, Cable, and the rest of the X-Men.
Newsarama: Lonnie and Zac, obviously you can’t spill the beans about the conclusion of Extermination, but what can you tell us to set the stage for X-Men: The Exterminated #1?
Zac Thompson: Well, if you haven’t been keeping up on Extermination I’m terribly sorry to tell you that Cable died in issue 1. X-Men: The Exterminated looks at the aftermath of that tragic loss through the two people affected most: Hope Summers and Jean Grey. While the Summers family tree is complicated, we wanted to explore what it means to lose both a father and a son while sowing the seeds of Jean and Hope’s future as family. It’s a heartbreaking look at how to move forward after loss.
Lonnie Nadler: Zac pretty much nailed it. This is us giving a proper send off to a beloved character through the eyes of two people who care about him the most. While it functions 1.as a sort of epilogue to Ed Brisson’s event, it also works as a nice postscript to the run Zac and I did on Cable earlier this year with German Peralta. So people who read that series will also see a lot of familiar themes, faces, and throughlines in the pages of X-Men: The Exterminated #1.
Nrama: The Exterminated examines a relationship that’s been on the backburner for a bit: Cable and Hope. What’s going on with Hope going into this one-shot?
Nadler: Cable and Hope’s relationship is something Zac and I started to explore in our run on Cable and it felt like there was a lot left to unpack. Hope is very similar to her dad and for the past little while she was living sort of in isolation, away from the other X-Men, doing her brooding and deciding who she wants to become. It’s not easy to be told you’re the mutant messiah as a little girl and I think she’s still coming to terms with that. More recently she’s showed face with the X-Men again and come to the X-Mansion to make an effort to fit in with the larger group. I think she’s learned that she doesn’t have to be a hermit or lone wolf like Cable in order to be an individual. Going into The Exterminated, Hope is obviously pretty devastated at the loss of her father. It’s not the first time she’s lost him either, so there’s melancholy mixed with confusion and rage.
Thompson: We’ve been drawn to Hope ever since we entered the X-Universe as writers. She’s an incredibly complex woman raised by one of the most complex mutants to ever walk the earth. As The Exterminated begins we wanted to show that Cable was pretty much Hope’s tether to a normal life. In many ways, he always showed Hope the path forward. Without him here, it puts into question what Hope’s larger purpose is. Now she has to look to the future without Cable and that idea terrifies her.
Nrama: The solicitation for The Exterminated mentions Hope going down a “dark path.” What’s at stake for her here?
Thompson: When a time traveller like Cable dies, there’s bound to be a lot of questions about what could have happened and what should have happened. These questions eat away at Hope and compel her to make choices that she may never be able to take back.
Nadler: Building on that idea, it’s also an attempt to ground some of the headier ideas in the Marvel Universe like time travel and to make them relatable for us mere humans. When you lose a loved one, you’re put in a place of vulnerability and frustration, which can sometimes lead to rash actions and then to regret. While we may not be able to time travel, there’s always these “what ifs” that gnaw away at our minds when you experience a tragedy on this scale, and here Hope is dealing with those very questions. She wants her dad back. Badly. So we’re asking the question, “How far would you go to get your family back?”
Nrama. What does the loss of Cable mean for the X-Men in general? For Hope?
Nadler: Losing a senior member of any community stings. It always feels sort of like the world just stops for a moment, especially when the individual lost is a legend like Nathan Summers. He’s the sort of person who you think can handle themselves, he’s almost invincible, and so when they die everyone has to come to terms with their own mortality. It’s not unlike when a big celebrity dies and that shockwave reverberates around the world because they touched so many lives. Cable is a huge part of the X-Men family at large and I think more people than just Hope see him as a father figure or as an icon. Having a decorated soldier like Cable gone from their ranks is something most of them are trying to take in stride, but for some, it’s harder than others to let go of the past.
Thompson: Cable has always been a leader. He’s always seen the path forward, and his name is meant to be taken literally as a connection between the past and future. Cable is the one member of the X-Men who’s able to see anomalies in the time stream before they happen. In many ways, it seems like his life doesn’t move linearly and he could never die. So his loss comes as a gut punch. It leaves the X-Men reeling. And for Hope it leaves her without an aspirational figure, without a role model, and forces her to question her larger purpose as she continues to fight for mutantkind.
Nrama: You’re working with artist Neil Edwards on this story. What’s he bring to the table?
Thompson: Neil is a fantastic storyteller whose art elevates everything we throw at him. His work is incredibly fluid and action packed. Neil’s work in action scenes in unparalleled and he’s killed every bananas thing we threw at him in the script. We couldn’t be more thrilled to be working with an artist of his caliber.
Nadler: Neil is a real veteran and we’ve admired his work from afar for a while now. For younger writers like ourselves to be afforded the opportunity to work with someone of his stature is a wonderful experience and it will never get old. The script demanded a big mix of action and more delicate, emotive character moments and Neil is the kind of guy who can switch between those two with ease.
Nrama: Can we expect to see Hope taking a bigger role in the X-Men once again?
Nadler: Like Zac said before, we fell in love with Hope’s character when we were writing her in Cable and so we want to see as much of her as possible going forward. However, it’s not entirely up to us. Maybe we can bug Matt Rosenberg about writing her in Uncanny...
Thompson: Unfortunately, Hope isn’t one of the characters we’re dragging along with us into the Age of X-Man. But, we do have a concept for her that we’d both kill to do. Hopefully we can make it happen someday.
Nrama: You’ve both been working in the X-Men corner of the Marvel Universe for a while now. What’s coming up for you after The Exterminated?
Thompson: As I just mentioned, we’re about to launch a big X-Men event in 2019 that picks up immediately after the events of Uncanny X-Men’s “Disassembled” storyline. It’s called “Age of X-Man.” We’ve been lucky enough to build out an entire world with the incredible folks in the X-Office and a whole slew of talented writers and artists. Although, we can’t say much about it just yet… I think it’s going to blow people away and it’s certainly not what people think it is. What I can say is, that within the context of the event, we’re writing a series called Marvelous X-Men. It’s a team comprised of Jean Grey, Magneto (with one eye!), X-Man, Nightcrawler, Nature Girl, Colossus (who’s missing an arm?!), Storm, and X-23. They are loved and revered around the world.
Nadler: “Age of X-Man” has taken up our lives for the past several months. We want this to be an event that feels special, that pays homage to X-Men history while also bringing something new to the table. We were given a huge toy box to play with and our editor Jordan White really let us run wild and trusted us to create a unique experience for readers. I think people are really expecting “Age of X-Man” to be one thing, but they’re going to get something completely different. While I don’t want to spill the beans too much, I will say this: “Age of X-Man” is not simply an updated “Age of Apocalypse” riff. While it’s a spiritual successor, it’s another beast altogether.
Nrama: Bottom line, what’s in store for X-Fans in the pages of X-Men: The Exterminated #1?
Nadler: There’s a lot of big fun action happening in a lot of the X-Men books right now and so this was our chance to slow things down a bit and explore the more emotional side with a handful of mutants. This one is a requiem. It’s for readers looking to get some closure regarding Cable’s death. It’s for readers who love seeing the interpersonal relationships develop between X-Men. It’s a touching story that bids a proper farewell to one of the most beloved mutants out there.
Thompson: If you’re looking for some sweet Summers family emotions then this issue is the place. We managed to throw some great action in there too, along with a few surprises. I couldn’t be more excited for people to check it out!