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Cable #156 Review

by Charles Martin on April 18, 2018

Cable #156 Review
Writers: Lonnie Nadler & Zac Thompson
Artist: Germán Peralta
Colourist: Jesus Aburtov
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Cable's storytellers downshift hard and throw us into a full-issue flashback. The intent is to further illuminate the danger of Metus and anchor the monster more firmly in Cable's history, and those goals are pretty well achieved.

This Wastelands flashback doesn't quite live up to the full potential of the last issue, though. That's partly because Cable #155 was an absolute tour-de-force and therefore set a ridiculously high standard. Strong as this new installment is, it doesn't make forward progress in the fight against Metus, and that feels just a little disappointing. 

The flow of the story through the first few scenes is a little hard to follow, mainly - but not entirely - because our heads are spinning after the jump from "Cable and grownup Hope fighting Metus" to "Cable and kid Hope fighting cannibals and Bishop."

I'm afraid Lonnie Nadler & Zac Thompson bit themselves off a big chunk of Catch-22 here. Giving this flashback all the attention it deserves makes it feel like the contemporary story has stalled. But if the authors had squeezed in a little forward motion on the main story, I'm sure the early Wasteland scenes would become even more disjointed.

The other elements that fall into the minus column are the rather cardboard treatments of the Wastelands and of Bishop, who's marking time here in the role of "Generic Antagonist 12B." For me, the setting whiffed undeniably of "Fallout 4 starring Cable and Hope," and I'm sure other readers will recognize similarities to other post-apocalyptic stories in the look and feel of the Wastelands.

That's it for the bad news! What's good here?

This story presents some pretty big moments in Summers family history. Cable gives Hope her first shooting lesson! It's pushed beyond Post-Apocalyptic Parenting 101 by a rather brilliant flashback-in-a-flashback to Slym and Redd training a young Nathan. The parallels are powerful and they serve to keep the parental responsibility theme front and centre in the minds of Cable and us readers.

The arrival of Metus is just as horrifying this time around as it was in the last issue. One of the reasons Bishop comes off so poorly here is that Metus completely eclipses him in the "nemesis" department, and the monster explicitly, mockingly announces it as it happens.

The psychological impact of Metus is even bigger than the physical threat he poses. Cable closes the book with a superb monologue that nails down the meaning of this whole flashback and prepares us to return to the contemporary story with a sense of heightened stakes - which, again, was the whole point of this exercise.

If Lonnie Nadler & Zac Thompson are grinding their gears slightly in pacing the script, Germán Peralta and Jesus Aburtov are certainly firing on all cylinders on the artistic front. Metus adds some scary X-Men impersonations to its horrifying repertoire, but Mr. Peralta makes the story visually fascinating even before the boogeyman du jour arrives. 

Young Hope races toward an inhabited house that is magnificently framed on an aerial splash page so that she can't see the pile of corpses behind the building while our eyes are drawn inevitably to the carnage. Though I whined above about the Wastelands feeling a little generic, they're certainly drawn big and dramatic and detailed. "Looks like a cool Fallout 4 mod" is actually a damned high bar for a man to leap with pen and paper, and Mr. Peralta sails over it easily.

Jesus Aburtov's colour work remains impeccable. This is mostly a blue book, but Mr. Aburtov modulates that hue to create a huge difference between creepy midnight blue and the shiny happy blue of clear morning skies. He also neatly differentiates the two big nighttime fight scenes by accenting the blues with warm natural firelight in the first and cold purple neon in the second.

There are also a few shining moments of humour tucked into this grim story. Kid Hope is incredibly adorable. And keep your eyes peeled in that first fight scene for some honest-to-God "El Kabong" action.

Cable #156 delivers a surprising full-issue flashback and throws the main story into a bit of a holding pattern. It's initially disconcerting, but the points that are made by the end of the issue are both insightful and scary. Top-notch visuals throughout help sell a tricky script. If the start is shaky, the end is notably powerful, and the larger story is evolving in fascinating ways.
 

Our Score:

8/10

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Charles Martin's picture
 Cable! Another settlement needs your help!