I was an X-Men kid back in the 90’s, but my exposure to X-Force came later; first with Craig Kyle & Chris Yost’s post-’Messiah War’ run, and then Rick Remender’s incredible ‘Uncanny X-Force’. So it certainly wasn’t Cable’s return that intrigued me about ‘Cable and X-Force’. What interested me was Dennis Hopeless, whose work on ‘X-Men: Season One’ I was big fan of, and former ‘Invincible Iron Man’ artist Salvador Larroca.
‘Cable and X-Force’ picks up from the aftemath of last year’s ‘Avengers: X-Sanction’ miniseries with Cable now purged of the techno-organic virus that has plagued him his whole life (apart from when it didn’t, back around the end of his first solo book and the start of ‘Cable and Deadpool’), and he’s… Well, I can’t really tell. The book opens with Cable and his new X-Force, consisting of Colossus, Domino and Dr. Nemesis, resisting arrest and escaping Havok’s Uncanny Avengers at the scene of what is seemingly a terrorist attack on a residential area. The issue then flashes back to a few days earlier, where we see Cable listening in on his adopted daughter Hope, in a foster home and living a normal life in the wake of ‘Avengers Vs. X-Men’. As the issue continues Hope tracks Cable down and discovers that he is suffering from inexplicable headaches (hence bringing Dr Nemesis on board, the leading expert in freaky brain science) and strange visions, which appear to be coming true.
Now, I like Dennis Hopeless, he’s a great writer of characters. And that’s the best thing here. I like the voices he gives to Cable, Hope, Dr Nemesis and Domino, and there’s a nice tongue in cheek quality that acknowledges some of the more ridiculous aspects of Cable’s past. However, the problem I have is that I just don’t have a clear idea of what is going on. There’s a lot of fresh starts in Marvel NOW, and this no exception. However, by making the majority of the book a flashback which doesn’t meet up with the present-time opening it creates a sense of disconnection in the narrative. I’m not sure where this book is going, which creates a nice sense of unpredictability, but I’d like a little more solidity in the structure of the story. I have no doubt that Hopeless is going to bring us full circle nicely with this arc, but I just felt like we didn’t get enough pieces of the puzzle here.
I’ve always been a fan of Larocca’s art, so I wasn’t surprised that I found this to be a very pleasing issue visually. Frank D’Armata’s muted colours really work with Larroca’s naturalistic art. He renders action and stillness with equal verve, making a simple dialogue scene between Hope and her social worker as impressive as Hope preparing to telekinetically throw a whole airfield of plane wrecks at cable. Now, I know some people have an issue with Larroca’s photo referencing, and it is something that I have had an issue with in the past, but he’s no Greg Land. His style shines through, and he draws tech very well; Cable’s new arm prosthetic in particular is a great mass of panels, lights, piping and cables (of course). I can’t put my finger on it precisely, I just like the way he draws.
So, ‘Cable and X-Force’. A promising start, but I’d have liked to have seen a bit more of the big picture. But I guess you can’t have everything right away, right? Still, I liked it enough that’ll I’ll be checking out issue #2, and since it’s a relatively quiet week for Marvel, you could do much worse.