Written by Gerry Duggan
Art by Phil Noto
Lettering by Travis Lanham
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by David Pepose
‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
No need to look at your calendars, because Marvel is bringing back the spirit of the ‘90s in a most unexpected way in Cable #1. But instead of big muscles, big pouches, and even bigger guns, we’re instead treated to the engaging adventures of a cocky adolescent battling bad guys, flirting with girls, and sporting some powerful tactile telekinesis.
Yes, for ‘90s-era comic books fans of a certain age and demographic, we’re about one leather jacket and a fade from Cable being a stealth Superboy reboot, clad in Krakoan clothing rather than a Kryptonian “S.” The result is something surprisingly fun and energetic, something that lends a much-needed shot of charm in Nathan Summers’ tumultuous new status quo.
Given that Young Cable assassinated and replaced his older self in the pages of Extermination - yeah, it’s a lot, even for the Summers family - shortly before Jonathan Hickman’s complete renovation of the X-Men line in "Dawn of X," you’d expect Nathan Summers to be gruff, sullen, driven to save the future. But that’s not the song that writer Gerry Duggan is singing here, and honestly, it’s kind of refreshing - given that he’s the son of Captain Commander Cyclops and Quiet Council member Marvel Girl (and has a familial relationship with the legendary Wolverine), Nate is a teenage rock star on Krakoa, racking up wins battling in the Quarry and going on “double dates” that would make his polyamorous pops proud.
Given the comparatively blank slate Duggan has been handed with the character, readers might be taken aback seeing that this isn’t any Cable we’ve seen before. But even with his teenage confidence and bravado, it’s hard not to see this would-be soldier as an innocent kid, calling Wolverine “Uncle Logan” and fanboying out when he comes into possession of a gigantic Spaceknight sword. I also give Duggan some props for the supporting cast - while casting Cable as a Casanova juggling two women feels a little retro for the year 2020, Pixie and Armor feel like strong additions to the book, able to puncture some of Nathan’s swelling ego and helping save the days in ways the standard guns-and-TK combo might not.
But I think some of that likeability also comes from Phil Noto’s artwork. Noto is of course the antithesis of the ultrarendered and exaggerated physiques of the ‘90s heyday, but I think he’s a surprisingly effective fit on young Cable’s adventures. Because of the cleanliness of Noto’s faces, he really keys in on the innocence and youthful energy of these characters - Nathan and Armor in particular have a great beat with some really solid chemistry. That said, this isn’t a particularly tense read by any stretch of the imagination, which feels like it goes against the grain of Cable as a character - in particular, Noto’s fight choreography feels a little wonky, especially a panel where Nathan winds up tackling someone in the Quarry to pin them.
Admittedly, I do think this issue goes off the rails a bit, even with its extended page count - the last six pages feel like epilogues that are almost stapled onto the main storyline, and I do think Duggan might be pushing his luck with whether or not this fresh-faced new character will be able to graft characters from other parts of the Marvel Universe successfully into his narrative. That said, the second epilogue at least feels personal to Nathan as a character - and seeing the way that Noto portrays the return of this classic brings me some optimism for storylines to come.
For those looking for the kind of classic Cable comic from your youth, you might be disappointed with this new series - but for fans of some other ‘90s-era staples, you might find yourself pleasantly surprised. Young Nathan Summers feels almost like a blank slate in this bold new era, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing - while this comic won’t set the world on fire, it’s a fun and entertaining diversion that winds up working far better than you might expect.