At the end of the "House of M" mini-series, the Scarlet Witch used her reality-warping powers to drastically decrease the Marvel Universe's mutant population. Now, there are less than 200 mutants worldwide, and since the Witch used her powers, only one new mutant has been born. This baby girl is known as Hope, because the X-Men and many other mutants see her as a possible messiah that could save the mutant race from extinction.

Unfortunately, not everyone sees Hope as a savior. The former X-Man, Bishop, believes that Hope will grow up and cause a disaster that will in turn give birth to the nightmarish future world he originally hails from. In order to prevent that future from occurring, Bishop will do whatever he must, including the solution he's settled on: killing Hope. When the X-Men discovered Bishop's intentions, Cyclops tasked his son, the time traveling mutant soldier Cable, to protect Hope. Armed with a malfunctioning time machine that can only move forward in time, Cable escaped with Hope into the future. Unfortunately for them, Bishop procured a time machine of his own and set off in hot pursuit of Cable and Hope.

This has been the premise of writer Duane Swierczynski's ongoing "Cable" series since it launched, but that's about to change. From the X-Men's perspective, Cable and Hope have only been gone a few months, but for the fugitives,13 years have passed. "Cable's" current arc finds the titular character, a teenaged Hope, Bishop, and a young boy named Emil trapped aboard a spaceship that's been invaded by the monstrous alien race known as the Brood. CBR News spoke with Swierczynski about the current story line and the following arc, "Homecoming," where Cable and Hope decide that they're tired of running and return to the present.

CBR News: Duane, I noticed in "Cable" #19 that Hope points out to her young friend and first love, Emil, that Cable is not her father. What does Hope know about her real parents? How does she feel about them, and has knowing that Cable isn't her biological father affected her feelings for him?

Duane Swierczynski: Hope knows nothing about her parents - all she knows is that this gruff old dude named Nathan has been taking care of her since birth, and that she's destined for something in the past (our present). As for her feelings about Cable, well, you learn by mimicking your parents, and he's not exactly the most "Aw, come over here and give your ol' dad a hug" kind of guy.

Hope also openly wished that Wolverine and X-23 were there to help out. Would the assumption that she still has fond memories of the X-Force members she met during the "Messiah War" crossover, which saw the X-team traveling to the future where they interacted with Cable and Hope, be correct?

She does. It was her first glimpse of others like her. Aside from Cable, of course.

Let's talk a little bit about Cable. In recent issues, Hope met Emil, which means that in addition to keeping his surrogate daughter alive, Cable now has to deal with the pressures of teenage romance. Is Cable ready to handle this added emotional drama? How important is protecting Hope's emotional well-being to Cable's overall mission?

Cable's number one mission is, and always has been, keeping Hope alive. (Which is kind of every parents' number one mission, you know?) But at the risk of Rickrolling this interview, Cable's no stranger to love. There's actually a tender moment - well, tender for Cable, anyway - in #20, where he seems to understand how important Emil is to Hope.

How would you describe the dynamic between Cable and Emil?

Cable treats Emil the same way I intend to treat any of my daughter's suitors one day: they need to know they can be killed in an instant if they step out of line

Bishop obviously has a strong amount of faith that Hope will grow up and become a monster. So much so that he's sacrificed his convictions, and several body parts, in his quest to kill her. How much harder can this get on the character?

It gets even worse for Bishop. In the next arc, you'll see Bishop realize that he's had a big part in "raising" Hope, too, turning her into the young woman she is today. A young woman who knows 47 ways to gut you with a rusty knife.

What can you tell us about the remaining chapters of the current arc featuring the Brood?

There's just one more - #20, in stores this week - and then we launch into our big "Homecoming" arc.

After issue #20, does the action in "Cable" move directly into issue #21 or into the four part "Girl Called Hope" back-up story, which kicked off last week in the pages of "Psylocke" #1?

The story rolls right into #21. The backup stories are little glimpses of Cable and Hope's lives on the run over the years.

What can you tell us about "Homecoming?"

Cable #21 is the first chapter of "Homecoming," and it's all about Hope realizing that she's had enough of this life on the run. She wants to return to the present and join the rest of the X-Men. That's easier said than done, considering the only working time machine is embedded in Bishop's arm.

In the months ahead, will things be moving at the same brutal, relentless pace, or are things going to move even faster?

Even faster. Marvel should package the issues with whiplash collars!

You're working with artists Paul Gulacy and Gabriel Guzman on upcoming "Cable" stories. What do these guys bring to the book?

I'm so glad Paul Gulacy came back to do more "Cable!" His versions of Bishop and Cable are so intense; I swear you can hear them grunting, sweating and bleeding.

And Gabriel Guzman's been absolutely tearing it up with the Brood arc. He'll be doing the art for issues #22 and #23, which, not to spoil anything, require an amazing amount of versatility. Gabriel didn't even flinch.

For the "Girl Called Hope" back-up stories, you're working with artist Steve Dillon. What's it like working with the acclaimed "Preacher" and "Punisher" artist?

If I were to tell the younger version of myself that I'd be working on something with Steve Dillon someday, I'd assume the older version of me was smoking some incredibly potent form of crack. I hope readers will pick up "Psylocke" #1, "Dark X-Men" #1 (part two of the story, and in stores this week) and the rest to give these backup stories a shot. I'm thrilled with how they turned out.

"Second Coming," the third chapter of the trilogy that began with Hope's birth in "Messiah CompleX" and continued with "Messiah War," kicks off in the spring of 2010. We know that Cable and Hope are going to be part the story line, but it looks like the "Cable" series is not. Will "Cable" continue to publish during "Second Coming," or is it going on hiatus?

The tale we set out to tell with "Cable" will come to an end as "Second Coming" begins. In fact, it leads right into the crossover. From there - stay tuned.

Now that the tale you set out to tell is entering its final chapter, what's it like looking back on the book? Any pleasant surprises or things you're especially fond of?

Hope's been the real surprise for me, as a writer. When the series started, she was just a red-haired, green-eyed baby. Kind of cute. Cried a lot. But over the span of the last 21 issues, it's been so much fun watching her grow up, banter with Cable, fall in love, kick Brood butt, and finally blossom into a cool young woman. I'm going to miss her when... well, you'll see.

Tags: marvel comics, duane swierczynski, cable, hope, second coming

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