Back to the Future: Swierczynski Talks "Cable"

Being a single parent is difficult enough, but imagine trying to raise a child who just might be the savior of an entire race while dodging ceaseless assassination attempts by one of your own friends! That's currently the status quo for Nathan Summers -- AKA Cable -- who stars in his own monthly series from Marvel Comics. CBR News spoke with "Cable" writer Duane Swierczynski about the title, issue #6 of which is in stores now.

The first five issues of "Cable" detailed how the titular character ended up in a dystopian future world with the first mutant baby born since M-Day, the mass de-powering of many of the Marvel Universe's mutants. Cable and his fellow X-Men see the baby as the possible savior of the mutant race, but hot on the heels of Cable and the child is former X-Man Bishop, who has very different ideas about the child. It appears that Bishop believes the infant to be the cause of the nightmarish future world he comes from, so he wants to kill the baby in order to prevent that future from ever happening -- which also means he's out to kill anyone who stands his way, like Cable.

While Cable has to deal with Bishop's relentless pursuit and repeated assassination attempts, there doesn't seem to be any personal animosity between hunter and hunted. "Both are stone professionals -- one a solider, the other a cop -- and neither would admit to this whole messiah business being personal," Swierczynski told CBR news. "They're just doing their jobs. But as their war wages on, it's going to be increasingly difficult to claim otherwise. How can you not take it personally when someone uses a truck to smash you into the ground floor of the Empire State Building?"

At the end of issue #5, Cable escaped Bishop by using his time travel device to jump forward in time. Cable had previously thought the device inoperable, but discovered he could program it to take him to any point forward in time -- he just can't use it to go back into the past. The issue ended with Cable and the mutant baby on a desolate stretch of road in America in the year 2128, a world which Swierczynski described as just a weigh station in Cable's current plan. "Cable has a specific place (and time) in mind, and he's making his way there in short jumps, just to make sure he's covering his tracks," said the writer.

"Cable" #5 also saw the character realizing his mission to protect the mutant child has more parameter than he originally thought. "I think he's realized that his mission isn't simply keeping a football-sized life form alive in the timestream; he's going to have to raise her, too. And I like to think that Sophie had a little to do with cracking his techno-organic exterior a little," Swierczynski explained.

Sophie is Sophie Petit, a waitress Cable met when arriving in the dark future world of New Jersey circa 2043. Sophie assisted Cable in dealing with both Bishop and the ruthless Turnpike Authority, a corrupt local militia which had taken control of New Jersey. Issue #5 ended with her machine-gunning the Authority's masters, the New Jersey Assembly. "That's it for Sophie -- for a while, anyway," Swierczynski remarked. "Though you never know when she might pop back up. Note to self: pitch Axel on 'Sophie Pettit: The Last X-Man' mini."

As Cable makes his way to his specific destination in the time stream, this week's issue #6 shifts the focus to the present and on the man who tasked Cable with protecting the mutant baby, his own father, Cyclops. "We've seen what Cable's been up to -- but what about those he left behind? Specifically Cyclops, who made a huge leap of faith by allowing his son to take the mutant messiah out into the timestream," Swierczynski stated. "And in a lot of ways, Cyclops' story is the most heart-wrenching. Bishop is dead certain in his beliefs; so is Cable. But Cyclops? Well . . ."

"Cable" #6 sees regular artist Ariel Olivetti taking a break and reunites Swierczynski with Michel Lacombe, his artistic collaborator on the "Punisher: Force of Nature" one-shot. "He's awesome -- wait until you see his X-Men," Swierczynski remarked. "We've also been working together on a story arc of 'Punisher Max' that will debut next January, so Michel's probably getting really sick of me by now."

September sees the release of "King-Size Cable Spectacular" a special one-shot issue that features art by Ken Lashley. In it, readers will see things from Bishop's perspective. "This is one of the mysteries running through the series: why the hell is Bishop doing this? You'll see bits of this in 'King-Size Cable,' but you'll also see much more in issues to come," Swierczynski explained. "Bishop, though, is not a ruthless killer. I swear. Not if you knew what he knows."

Swierczynski continued, "'King-Size' kicks off with Bishop hot on Cable's trail, and you'll see exactly how he tracks his quarry through time. It's not what you saw in the first arc; Bishop has a trick up his sleeve."

Time travel is still a very important story element in October's "Cable" #7, which kicks off a new story arc titled, "Waiting for the End of the World." "You're going to be seeing things change radically starting with #7. Both Cable and Bishop have a clear idea on how to use time travel to definitively win this war, and they couldn't be more different," Swierczynski explained. "To say anything else would make me Mr. McSpoilerpants."

"Cable" #7 also marks the arrival of some guest star characters that'll play reoccurring roles in the series. "You're going to see a little X-Force action in #7--and even more down the road," Swierczynski teased. "After all, they were Cable's team at one point."

Swierczynski couldn't say much about the plot of "Waiting for the End of the World" but could reveal that upcoming issues of "Cable" would shed some more light on the book's other ongoing mystery of who the mutant baby girl in Cable's care actually is, and what she can do. Swierczynski was also able to drop a hint about some of the opponents he's planning on throwing Cable's way in the future. "Cable will be squaring off against adversaries that are ridiculously hard to kill," he said. "They're famous for it, in fact."

The tone of the first "Cable" arc, "War Baby" was dark, dystopian science fiction, and "Waiting for the End of the World" will have both a similar yet different feel. "'Cable' will always have that sci-fi, spaghetti western tone imprinted on its DNA," Swierczynski stated. "I wouldn't say dystopian, though; in fact, the next story arc runs in the opposite direction. For a while."

One of the reasons life might not be so bleak for Cable is because issue #7 will reveal something has happened to the title character, something that's generally cause for celebration. Said Swierczynski, "Did I mention that Cable's married at the beginning of #7?"

Now discuss this story in CBR's X-Men forum.

Marvel Just Teased the Return of Its Strongest. Hulk. Ever.

More in Comics