Friday, January 23, 2015

Cable, Battleword and the Beauty of Simplicity

My least favorite character in all of comicdom is Cable, by far. You might even say that I hate Cable.

Fuck you, the 90s.

Cable's character can be summed up by a huge wad of guns and a complicated time travel story. His personality is just generic badass and his design looks like a six-year-old with a crayon drawing a gun, like a big gun, like a super big gun you guys. He is embarrassing to me, as a comic fan, and personally I feel like he is everything wrong with comics.

I was so happy when he had Hope to take care of, because it gave him a reason to exist and then a reason to die, which I also enjoyed for its own sake. At best, Cable is a relic of an earlier time, both in the comic book industry and the age of its readers. There was a point where we all would have been impressed with a guy with a robot arm and a super big gun, but as a grown-up, man, fuck this infantile garbage.

Of course, the worst part about Cable is the overly complicated time travel plot and seemingly inability to die. Cable can go back and forth between now and the future, except when he can't, but he can do it to come back to life, or can't, and he has a robot virus that kills him, or doesn't, because magic? I don't fucking understand any of this.

Needless to say, I was pretty pleased when he died, and not just because I hate that character either. Nightcrawler's death in Second Coming was a dumb idea. It attempted to make a crossover event super serious by killing off a character more or less at random. He died protecting Hope, but we as readers only had a vague idea about why Hope was an important person, let alone why he was important to Nightcrawler.

Hope was, supposedly, the savoir of the mutant race since she was the first mutant to be born in a long time. She was sent to the future to be raised by Cable for reasons, and then came back was on the run from sentinels, also for reasons. (Second Coming, get it?) To this day, the entire thing behind Hope makes very little sense to me, since the X-Men always used the "evolution" thing to explain their mutations. If that's still true, then Hope really wasn't magic or special; she's just another mutation. And it's not like she could do anything special, like create more mutants or bring back mutant powers or anything. Yet despite all this, because the writers at Marvel wanted to create importance where none previously existed (similar to legendary hack writer Joss Whedon) they killed off Nightcrawler.

(They brought him back a few years later. If you read my post from yesterday, you can probably guess how I feel about this. And, not to twist the knife any more than I need to, but in addition to killing off characters to make fake narrative importance, Joss Whedon is also guilty of bringing characters back from the dead in the same way.)

Anyway, Nightcrawler's death didn't make any sense, but Cable's did. He also ended up dying to protect Hope, but here, it's not because he's been told that she's the savoir of mutantkind, but because he was essentially her father. Cable was a relic from an earlier time, a character that simply cannot be taken seriously in the modern era, and he died in perhaps the best way possible.

Of course, after that, we learn that he didn't really die or something, and then more mutant powers started popping up from teenagers and adults, so there really wasn't a point to bringing Hope to the future and raising her there, and then Hope doesn't matter anymore and nobody wants to kill her, and Cable comes back to the present to do stuff for no reason and raaaaaaaaaaah what the serious fuck

See, it's shit like this that ruins the superhero genre for fans and newcomers alike. Take a look at the Eisner awards for the past five years, and you'll notice a preponderance of creators winning awards for completely new works or works that are at least separate from the main universe. Look, I get it, you're writing for Marvel and you want to make your mark on that history. You want your story to be big and grand and world-shattering because you're working in a company that's been making superhero comics for over 50 years now and it's hard to stand out in that crowd. I understand. But if every single story is this time-traveling, end-of-the-world bullshit than by contributing to that pool you're just drowning in your own mediocrity. And really, Cable is the victim here. He is just a compound of several different "huge" storylines that got piled onto one character until nothing made sense anymore. And I didn't even get into his fucking clone, nephew, alternate reality version or who-the-fuck-knows what else running around now.

Enter: Secret Wars. For a while now, Marvel has been "getting its ducks in a row" in regards to time travel and alternate realities, with so many stories and crossovers I can't even remember them all. There's the ongoing Spider-Verse, Battle of the Atom, the Incursions, the storyline from Uncanny Avengers, the one with Ultron...just a whole bunch of stories all revolving around the timeline and walls between alternate universes breaking. Again, this "huge" stories are boring and overdone, and crossovers are painful on my wallet.

My second complaint is that I think "X Meets Y" or "X Fights Y" stories are really dumb. I don't think that just putting two characters that don't normally appear together on the same page necessarily makes a good or interesting story. I also don't care when two characters fight each other that don't normally fight. It seems that Secret Wars is going to bring in tons of different characters from alternate realities and have them duke it out. Who cares? What matters most is if there is a good story attached to that fight.

I will say this though, there will occasionally be a character in an alternate reality that I wish I could see more of. AoA Sabretooth is much more interesting than 616 Sabretooth. Miles Morales is one of my favorite Spider-Men. If we're lucky, characters like these get brought into the main universe (like Rachel Summers), and maybe we'll get to see a few of these characters play a larger role in the main Marvel universe.

Or should I say, the only Marvel universe. I think the goal here with Secret Wars is to simply the narratives, bring all the characters together, and get rid of time-travel/alternate reality garbage. So, while the Secret Wars themselves will be overblown, contrived, boring and childish, I have high hopes that what comes after will be a much more simplified narrative, one that focuses on characters and story rather than complicated plotlines and hopefully there will be no Cable.

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