X-Position: Duane Swierczynski

Most parents are familiar with the adage that children turn into adults in the blink of an eye. In the case of Cable, though, this saying holds a lot of literal truth. Hope, the mutant child "Messiah," has aged from a baby to a young lady over the past dozen months (in the eyes of the book's readers). Cable has been with Hope through most of this, but when they were separated in the timestream recently, she aged another two years before they reconnected.

Cable's job as a parent to Hope is a difficult one, as he has to guide her in becoming the savior of mutants all the while protecting her from Bishop, who's stalking her through time. Bishop's current attempt to end Hope's life included the use of a nuclear bomb...or, at least, it would have if he hadn't been interrupted by the Brood, a deadly alien race.

As you can see, there is much going on in the pages of "Cable," which is why we've asked the book's writer, Duane Swierczynski, to join us for today's X-POSITION and answer your questions. Ready for some big guns and even bigger revelations? Then let's get to it!

Rwsmith1977 starts us off with a query that seems to be of concern for many of Cable's fans. What do you say, Duane?

1) Cable has been shown as getting pretty old in his series, and at this point has got to be around 60 or 70. Are there any plans to de-age him somehow? Otherwise, I have to believe he'd have a hard time even holding his oversized guns anymore!

De-age him? What, do you have something against geriatric X-Men? Cable's like that old spaghetti commercial: as he gets older, he gets better.

2) Can you give us any hints as to what the future holds in store for Cable once he returns to the present? Will he be an X-Man again or continue to operate on the fringe of the X-universe? Is there any chance you might tie up loose ends and storylines from previous writers?

Do you mean Cable's future... like, in the future? Or our present - which is kind of like Cable's past? (See the problems you have with time travelers?) Either way, I can't say much, lest I ruin some of the surprises in the third installment in the "Messiah Trilogy."

However, once Cable and Hope return to the present - this is presuming they do make it back to the present - I don't think they'd have an easy time staying on the fringes. There will be too many interested parties.

3) Can you tell us who is penciling the back-up Cable stories running through several other books in December, as well as who is going to be the new ongoing penciller for the regular "Cable" series?

Oh, I wish I could. Because it's someone incredibly freakin' cool - someone I've always wanted to work with. The announcement should come any day now...

Hm. That last response possibly gives us a hint to the answer of the following question from Mundungus:

1) Was Cable always intended to be a finite series centered around the Messiah storyline? If not, do you have plans post-Messiah trilogy? Can you confirm that you'll still be writing the title?

Ah, sorry - can't say anything at the moment. See SPOILERS, MESSIAH TRILOGY.

2) I know this isn't X-related, but can you shine any light on Iron Fist happenings post-"Immortal Weapons"?

Uh... nope, can't say anything about this, either.

3) With your background as a novelist, does it impact the way you approach writing for comic books?

Since I feel horrible about ducking your first two questions, Mundungus, let me give you a nice, meaty answer for this one:

I tend to approach story arcs the same way I do novels: I usually start out with a premise - some kind of horrible situation for my characters to deal with - and a general sense of what I'd like to see happen, as well as where the characters might end up by the end of the arc (or novel). The fun, of course, is inventing what happens in the middle.

With novels, I'm usually winging it. It's harder to do that with comics, so a lot of the fun I have in plotting comes at the beat-sheet stage. I try to set up situations that I know will be fun to write later - for instance, the whole idea for the "Brood" arc came from a desire to trap Cable, Hope, and Bishop in a very small space. (Early on, I was toying with the idea of putting the three of them on a rusty boat in the middle of a poisoned ocean...but space seemed even more hostile.)

Doing one-shots or backups is like writing short stories. I was reminded of this just recently as I worked on the four "Cable" back-up stories you're going to be seeing in the X-books this November and December. It's a completely different skill, and one I always feel like I have to re-learn. (I hardly ever write short stories.) Axel and I workshopped these backups a lot until they hit the right grace notes. That's the difference, actually - grace notes vs. big, crazy plot points.

Mauro Di Cosmo enjoys the dark nature of your novels and wants to know if we'll be seeing more of that specific kind of work from you in comics...

As a fan of gritty crime noir, I was wondering if you've ever considered following in the footsteps of Ed Brubaker and doing your own street level creator-owned book for the ICON imprint. I would love to see you write something out of the superhero genre.

I'd give a kidney to do a straight-up crime or thriller comic. Right now my plate is full with my Marvel work and my own novels - such as "Expiration Date," due out from St. Martin's next March (yeah, a shameless plug, but hey, gotta pay the bills) and the next installment of the "Level 26" series I'm writing with "CSI" creator Anthony E. Zuiker.

But I wouldn't rule it out in the future. Hopefully, the near-ish future.

Speaking of the future, Andre4000 wants to hear more about a visitor that's coming to the X-Universe in the coming months.

With the "other" Nate Grey reappearing soon, will Cable be bumping into him? And will he be involved in the "Messiah" conclusion in any way?

That really would confuse poor Hope, wouldn't it? Hmmm...

Caleb Warren has a theory about Hope. Does he dare hope it's true?

1) So, the X-department has been teasing for a while that that Hope is actually Jean, or some variant thereof, but when will the real truth, that Hope is actually the Mary Jane Watson, be revealed?

You guessed it. Well, I guess you can skip the third part of the "Messiah Trilogy." See SPOILERS, CALEB WARREN (THE DUDE WHO TOTALLY SPOILED THE "MESSIAH TRILOGY").

2) Is there any way you can just tell us exactly what powers Hope has? Pretty please?

Yes. Just not here. For your convenience, I've answered this question in "Cable" #21, which goes on sale this December. (I mean, I would answer it here, but what if there's an EMP blast, and the whole internet is accidentally erased?)

Seriously, the questions X-fans have been asking start to get answered in that issue.

Sounds like it will be a powerful issue. And while we're on the topic of powers, Sixhoursoflucy was wondering...

1) Did we see Hope use her mutant powers in "Cable" #12, or was that one of Nathan's dehydration-induced fever dreams?

And did we see a toddler Hope use her mutant powers in "King-Size Cable?" Just asking!

2) I really liked your recent foray into Bishop's memories in "The Times and Life of Lucas Bishop." I did, however, notice a few discrepancies in the continuity the story presented, such as the altered "traitor tape" and Fitzroy's capture before he executed the Hellions. Were these discrepancies due to the uncertainty of Bishop's memory? Or did you write these changes intending them to be revisions to established continuity?

It's not so much problems with Bishop's memory, but what he chose to tell his fellow X-Men at the time. Over the years, he came to love the X-Men like his family, but he's always had a larger agenda. It's not hard to imagine him fudging certain details.

Justin Vox has some thoughts on Bishop and wanted to share an adage of his own.

It's seems that Bishop is falling into the old adage, "One often meets his destiny on the path he takes to avoid it." Is it possible, by hunting Hope and committing countless atrocities, he's helping to mold the Mutant Messiah into the very threat he's been trying to avert?

It's very possible. Life's a kick in the keister, ain't it?

But this is one of the reasons I love Bishop as a character. He's so damn noir, it's not even funny.

Slewo doesn't feel it's funny either. Can you help bring a smile to his face?

1) To be honest, Bishop as the main villain felt a little old to me after awhile, which was why I was happy when we had a change of pace with Stryfe (and now Brood). Is there a chance we'll see Stryfe again sans Apocalypse? I mean, he is a time traveler...

Or could you imagine if Stryfe showed up... along with Nate Grey... and Cable? It'd be a nightmare version of "The Parent Trap."

2) Does Bishop still consider the possibility that Hope doesn't bring about a gloom and doom future? He's had loads of chances to kill her, but he always seems to pause long enough for her to get safe. Does this mean he still can't do it? He's already killed whole continents - what's up with the hesitation?

Lately, Bishop has been foiled at the last minute by a variety of factors - namely, Stryfe and the Brood. I don't think Bishop would have any hesitation when it comes to blowing Hope's brains out.

And wow, talk about ending on an upbeat note! Anyway, just wanted to thank everyone for the great questions, and of course, thank all those faithful "Cable" readers out there.

On that loving note, we conclude this week's lesson in parenting, X-Men style. Don't you worry though, we'll be back in seven days with writer Mike Carey to discuss all the legendary events occurring in "X-Men: Legacy." Think up some quizzical queries, email them to me ASAP, and be sure to put an "X-Position" in the subject line. Ooh, I can almost taste the X-citement!

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