Born from Scott Summers (Cyclops) and a clone of Jean Grey, Nathan Summers’ life was a series of trials and tribulations from the moment he took his first breath. Infected with the techno-organic virus by the villain Apocalypse, Cable’s parents sent him to the future in hopes a cure would be available there. First appearing in New Mutants #87, Cable quickly became fan favorite character. He was a mysterious character and nobody was quite sure where and when he came from. Over the years, Cable was developed more fully and came to take front and center in multiple comics; Cable’s popularity grew amongst comic book readers. Now that Deadpool 2 is just over the horizon, it’s nearly time for mainstream audiences to see what makes Nathan Summers so darn cool.
Constantly popping in and out of time, what with being a time traveller and all, few people are unsure of Cable’s motivations. Rest assured that Cable, who’s also one of the most powerful mutants in the world, fights for the good guys. Fighting to keep time and space safe, Cable’s life is one of awesomeness and many paradoxes. Today at CBR we’re looking at 20 different things you may (or may not) know about Cable.
20 HE NEARLY DEFEATED THE AVENGERS BY HIMSELF
On account of all his time traveling, Cable doesn’t always experience things in the correct order. This leaves him to getting extremely confused; it doesn’t help matters that he sometimes ends up travelling to alternate timelines. This has never stopped him from doing whatever he thinks is in the best interest of mutants, even if it involves coming into direct conflict with fellow superheroes.
In the mini-series Avengers X-Sanction, Cable tries to off the Avengers. It’s all thanks to a bizarre future prophecy from a dark timeline, that may or may not come to pass, that the Avengers are seemingly responsible for. Cable doesn’t want to take any chances and systematically captures the Avengers one by one. He beats Falcon, Captain America, Iron Man, and Red Hulk, only to then get taken side-blinded by Cyclops, and a couple other heroes, who free the Avengers and dog-pile on Cable.
19 HE WAS FRAMED
Despite being the son of Cyclops, Cable’s relationship with the X-Men is tenuous at best. It’s partly because he keeps time jumping in and out of their lives, trying to exterminate threats, and they take his actions as malevolent. Of course it didn’t help when he was framed for killing Professor Charles Xavier with the techno-organic virus. Considering Cable didn’t agree with Xavier’s nonviolent methods in dealing with mutant and human relations, it made sense to a great many X-Men that he was the culprit.
It wasn’t Cable (because even he’s not that insane), but it was his evil clone, Stryfe. This kicked off "The X-Cutioner’s Song" saga, which revolved around Cable and the X-Men trying to hunt Stryfe down. Though Cable launched both himself and Stryfe into a time vortex, they each survived.
18 HIS "BROTHER" IS HIMSELF
Because alternate timelines are a thing Cable has to periodically deal with, there are multiple versions of him running around. Introducing Nate Grey. Coming from the "Age of Apocalypse" timeline, Nate and Cable are technically the same person. If it sounds confusing, it is, as the two have difficult deciding which of them is the real Nathan. Mr. Sinister, whose intentions were slightly nobler this time around, artificially created Nate Grey from genetic material from Cyclops and Jean Grey.
In this timeline, Sinister was hoping to end the constant threat of Apocalypse. He aged Nate’s body rapidly to the point of being a teenager. Nate got shunted to Marvel’s main timeline after some dealings with the M’Kraan Crystal and he’s been there ever since. Now going by the moniker X-Man, since Cable and he can’t decide who’s the original, they each consider the other their “brother”.
17 HE DATED THE SAME WOMAN AS HIS DAD
The men in the Summers family don’t have a very good track record when it comes to dating. Usually the woman they’re with either tries to kill them, ends up dying, or the guys end up cheating. So the idea of Cable romancing the same woman as his father, while unsettling for a number of reasons, is not terribly surprising.
In Cable #13, Nathaniel Summers wooed the sea captain Lee Forrester. Although she’s a relatively obscure character in X-Men history, Forrester has attempted to date not only Cable, but first went for Cyclops and Magneto. This isn’t the first time Cable has dated someone who reminds him of his parents. When he was in the future, Nate’s marries a woman conveniently named Jenskot; it’s a pretty purposeful homage to a Jean-Scott hybrid.
16 HE'S BEEN A MEMBER OF THE AVENGERS
In spite of his oftentimes-adversarial nature with the Avengers (and trying to destroy them that one time), it’s easy to gloss over the fact that Cable has been a card-carrying member of the illustrious super team. In the 2015 series Uncanny Avengers, Steve Rogers has put together a new team of heroes. Calling them the Unity Squad Avengers, the first problem they have to deal with is stopping the Shredded Man, an Inhuman who makes deadly plants (it’s worse than it sounds).
Flash-forward to the year 2087 where the world is in complete shambles, thanks to the Unity Squad failing to stop the Shredded Man. Cable, who is in this nightmarish landscape, figures out the Unity Squad was the center of the disaster. He learns the date to go to, goes back in time, helps them win, and in so doing becomes an Avenger for a good many issues.
15 HIS MOTHER TRIED TO SACRIFICE HIM
Like many superheroes, Cable has loads of family issues. Unlike many superheroes, his own mother tried to sacrifice him in order to unleash demons upon the planet Earth. It’s the kind of thing that makes for an awkward Thanksgiving. Madelyne Pryor, the clone of Jean Grey, ended up working alongside the demon lord N’astirh during the Inferno storyline. This delightful demon went so far as to unleash her Jean Grey powers, which turned her into the Goblin Queen.
In order to bring demons into the earthly plane, N’astirh needed 13 babies to be sacrificed for a portal and Madelyne thought, what the heck, and tossed baby Nathan into the sky to complete the magical rite. Cable survived the experience, obviously, but it was a pretty good indicator as to what the rest of his life was going to be like.
14 WOLVERINE ROBBED HIM OF HIS SON
If you haven’t figure it out by now, Cable’s life is fraught with tragedy. However, it’s possible to argue that the saddest tragedy in Cable’s life is directly correlated to his son, Tyler Dayspring. Yes, Cable had a son, albeit in the future, with the boy’s mother, Aliya, Unfortunately she was killed in battle with Apocalypse’s forces and Cable’s evil clone Stryfe abducted his son. Because Cable can’t have a normal life, Tyler was brainwashed by Stryfe and Cable had to shoot his son to save one of his teammates.
Not dead, Tyler went back in time and took on a different identity where he sought to get revenge on his dad. At one point, he tried to draft Wolverine into his fight by brainwashing Logan. The plan backfired spectacularly, as Wolverine went into a berserker range and killed him.
13 APOCALYPSE INFECTED HIM WITH THE TECHNO-ORGANIC VIRUS
Part of Cable’s whole deal is that he lives his life on a day-to day basis trying to deal with the techno-organic virus that ravages his body. When he was a wee lad, Cable was infected with the virus, thanks to the mutant Apocalypse, and uses the majority of his psychic powers to ensure it doesn’t take over his body. This is why, despite his immense power, it often appears like he doesn’t possess many abilities at all.
The virus is also the reason Cable was sent to live in the future. Had he not been shunted to a world he didn’t recognize, Cable would have died in the present. Things took a weirder turn, when later in his personal future, Cable travels back in time and gives a younger version of Apocalypse the virus needed to infect him so that Cable can become the warrior he’s supposed to be.
12 HE HAS AN EVIL CLONE
These days, it seems like you can’t go about your business as a genuine superhero if someone isn’t trying to clone you. In Cable’s case, a mad scientist didn’t take his DNA illicitly, so that’s something positive. In the future, his guardian, Akani (who might’ve been his older sister, Rachel), clones Cable to ensure that even if the techno-organic virus killed him, the legacy of Cable would continue on in some way. Her plan sort of worked, as Cable’s clone served as a decoy when Apocalypse came knocking and tried to destroy Cable.
All the meanwhile, Cable remained oblivious to that fact that he had a clone and that his clone nearly died in his name. Naturally, Styfe, the clone didn’t forgive Cable’s ignorance. Fueled by rage and actually ending up getting raised by Apocalypse, he did everything he could to cause Cable and friends endless…strife.
11 HAD A COMIC SERIES WITH DEADPOOL
If you’ve seen the trailer for the upcoming Deadpool 2 movie, then you’re aware that Cable is a big part of the film. Having Cable and Deadpool on-screen together might seem like an odd pairing for the average moviegoer. On the other hand, comic book fans are very well acquainted with their history as seen in the comic Cable & Deadpool. The series lasted for almost four years, and Marvel put the pair in their official top 10 "Best Buddy Teams" list.
While Cable is normally known for his attempts to rid the world of Apocalypse, Cable & Deadpool served as a reprieve for the mutant. It was more like a buddy cop series, involving plenty of outlandish hijinks and constant jabs and one-liners from Deadpool. It was a super fun book, as Deadpool’s wacky behavior made for a perfect foil to Cable’s grittiness.
10 HE WAS RAISED BY MR. SINISTER
Out of all the villains the X-Men have fought over the years, one of the most sinister is, well, Mr. Sinister. In issue #17 of Cable & Deadpool, Deadpool has to save Cable, who’s a baby at this point, from the clutches of the supervillain. Teaming up with the X-Men Cannonball and Siren, they take the fight to Sinister.
When they encounter the baddie, Sinister says he only wants to raise Cable so that he can save the world, but of course he doesn’t mean it. Instead, he drugs Cable’s would-be rescuers and uses Deadpool’s healing factor to rapidly grow Cable into an adult. Now fully-grown Nate Summers defeats Sinister with ease and then escapes with Deadpool. It was definitely a strange moment in Cable’s history and was one for the history books.
9 HE WAS BETRAYED BY COPYCAT
While in the movies, Vanessa Carlysle might be the love of Deadpool’s life, the comic book version of her is incredibly more sinister. A shapeshifter who went by the name Copycat, this Vanessa was cruel. She once seduced Deadpool while disguised as Siren, the woman he loved, only to reveal her true identity an issue later, throwing Deadpool into an emotional tailspin.
When it comes to X-Force, for a while Cable and Domino were very close, with her serving as his second-in-command, but like Deadpool, Nathan Summers eventually discovered that Domino wasn’t who she said she was. Copycat had impersonated Domino in New Mutants when Deadpool’s employer Tolliver hired her to kill Cable. It wasn’t until a year later when everyone learned of the subterfuge and Cable rescued Domino. During it all, Copycat grew so fond of Cable and his team, that she didn’t follow her original orders.
8 HE FOUNDED X-FORCE
Cable is a warrior. His life has demanded that he fight nearly every day of his existence. Dissimilar to figures like Professor Charles Xavier, Cable does not believe that nonviolence is the answer. Rather, his no-nonsense attitude practically necessitates the need to make lethal, preemptive strikes against potential threats. A natural born leader, despite being rough around the edges, Cable convinced numerous students of Xavier to follow him on his mission(s).
At first the X-Men didn’t take the New Mutants seriously, but Cable reshaped the team into X-Force. Training them in all manner of deadly warfare, this ensured that team members like Cannonball weren’t allowed back into the X-Mansion. Still, they formed camaraderie as outlaws and did the deeds no one else would. Year later, Cyclops would take his son’s approach and form his own, violent version, of X-Force.
7 HE'S AN OMEGA-LEVEL MUTANT
After Cable returned from the future to the present day, he was years older than either his father or his mother. Don’t let his age fool you. Far stronger than his dad, and definitely on par with Jean, Cable is the host to tremendous psychic power. Classified as an Omega-Level telekinetic, Cable has boosted his powers to the point where he could battle the Silver Surfer and then enforced a state of utopia on the entire planet
Cable’s actual list of powers is lengthy and darn impressive. Aside from the super strength, stamina, and mastery of weapons and unarmed combat, Cable can teleport, make force fields, use astral projection, and travel through time. Additionally, he has telepathy, telekinesis, and precognition. If Cable isn’t using his maximum power, it’s because he’s using his psychic energies to keep the techno-organic virus in his body from killing him.
6 HE WAS CREATED TO STOP APOCALYPSE
With a penchant for tormenting Scott Summers and his genealogy, Mr. Sinister has been a thorn in X-Men’s side for years. Yet as bad as Sinister is, even he realized that the Apocalypse was infinitely worse. Granted, Sinister also had more selfish reasons to stop Apocalypse, but go figure. The geneticist wanted to defeat Apocalypse by creating the most powerful mutant. To that end, he manipulated Scott and Jean into falling in love so they could have a super powerful offspring. Alas, Jean died, but that didn’t top Sinister.
He took Jean’s clone and implanted it with the name and memories of Madelyne Pryor. Afterwards, Sinister kidnapped baby Cable and experimented on him for several months before Cyclops rescued him. Sinister maintained his plans for baby Nathan, but Nathan was so powerful his birth awoke Apocalypse, who then injected Nathan with the techno-organic virus, ruining Sinister’s schemes.
5 HE'S THE SON OF CYCLOPS AND JEAN GREY'S CLONE
Cable’s history is long, convoluted, and downright confusing at times. An Omega-Level mutant, Cable was the son of Scott Summers and Madelyne Pryor, who just so happened to be the clone of Jean Grey. To make Cable/Nathan Summers’ life extra hectic, he was the brainchild of Mister Sinister who wanted to use Cable as a weapon against the mutant Apocalypse.
Along the way, Cable got infected by the techno-organic virus and was sent to the future, where he was raised until he was 12 by people who’d had their consciousness replaced with his real parents, Cyclops and Jean. When Cable time travelled to the 20th century he encountered Cyclops, but at this point in the timeline, Scott and Jean hadn’t yet married or had their consciousness sent to the future, so Scott has no idea what Cable was talking about.
4 HE'S A TIME TRAVELING SUPER COP
There are numerous X-Men and heroes who consider Cable nothing more than a suspected terrorist who time travels. It’s difficult enough for Cable to keep track of his adventures, much less anyone else trying to figure out where and when Cable’s escapades have taken him.
Regardless, Cable’s taken it upon himself to protect all of time and those who inhabit it. Without even realizing it, this has turned Cable into sort of a time traveling super cop. Yet he’s not doing it because he wants to do it, he’s doing it because no one else can and someone has to. There are a whole host of villains that seek to control time and space. Such affairs fall in Cable’s wheelhouse and he does everything to ensure the timestream remains intact and isn’t tampered with.
3 HE THREATENED THE ENTIRE WORLD
Cable believes he knows best for mutants and the world. Combined with his incredible powers, this once gave him a god complex. Early on in Cable & Deadpool, Cable thinks he’s the best thing since sliced bread and wants to show the world governments how to properly run a planet. Figuring the world leaders aren’t doing enough to foster peace, he threatens to throw every nuke into the sun.
At Cyclops’s request, Deadpool confronts Cable and tries to calm him down. Nathan admits his goal was to force the world powers to find a common cause so they would have to work together. If that cause involved rallying together to destroy Cable, then so be it. Cable continues his insane bender, until even he realizes he’s gone too far. To stop him, Cable orders Deadpool to lobotomize him and the merc does just that.
2 DEADPOOL'S ENDED HIM MULTIPLE TIMES
Ever since they met in New Mutants #98, Cable and Deadpool have been friends, enemies, and nearly everything in between. Because of the violence that surrounds both characters, sometimes things get out of hand and one kills the other. In particular, Deadpool has killed Cable at least twice. In the early issues of The Despicable Deadpool, Stryfe is effectively holding Deadpool’s family for ransom and orders Deadpool to eliminate Cable.
Nathan Summers is not amused. Still, they reach an understanding. Deadpool doesn’t have to eliminate present day to kill Cable; they go into the future, meet Old Man Cable, and Deadpool puts a bullet in his head. In Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe Again, Deadpool, under the sway of the Red Skull, has been put inside an Ultron body. When a bunch of superheroes, Cable included, face him down, the mind-controlled Deadpool destroys them all, even Nathan Summers.
1 HE'S THE FUTURE WOLVERINE
Cable gets along with Wolverine the least from all the X-Men. Though they are both warriors by nature, their bitter rivalry likely stems from that very reason. They are too similar and are both as introverted as they are deadly and ruthless. It was then both ironic, and pretty shocking, when Cable was revealed to be Wolverine from the future in the Ultimate X-Men comics line.
In this particular universe, Cable, who also goes by James Howlett, possesses Wolverine’s trademark healing factor along with some nifty claws that come out of his human arm. His acquired his metal arm in the future after a fight with Apocalypse, when the evil mutant absorbed most of his healing factor and ripped off his arm. Travelling back in time, he defeated the X-Men in an effort to capture Xavier and bring him to the future to battle Apocalypse.