In Marvel Comics' "X-Men" #200 and "Cable & Deadpool" #42, it looked like Nathan Summers AKA Cable chose the ultimate sacrifice when he blew up his island nation, Providence, instead of letting it fall into the hands of Mister Sinister's Marauders. But when you're a time traveling solider like Cable, a fiery death doesn't necessarily mean your adventuring days are over; the character made his first appearance since his apparent death in part five of the "Messiah CompleX" storyline, last week's "X-Men" #205, and will star in a new ongoing self titled series beginning this March from writer Duane Swierczynski and artist Ariel Olivetti. CBR News spoke with Swierczynski about "Cable."
It was the strength of his two one-shot comics, November's "Moon Knight: Annual" #1 and 2008's "Punisher: Forces of Nature," that landed Swierczynski the "Cable" assignment. "When Axel Alonso, that silver-tongued devil, told me what he had in mind for this new series, my brain practically exploded. He's really good at matching writer and artist with the material at hand; I think he knew this series would fire me up," Swierczynski told CBR News. "Cable's appealing to me because he has a lot of cool internal conflicts. He's kind of a spiritual solider -- part priest, part John Rambo. He's trying to serve a greater calling, but to do that, he has to resort to violence. Lots and lots of violence. It's the ultimate story vehicle for a former altar boy."
Swierczynski's series spins out of "Messiah CompleX," but new readers don't need to have read the X-Men mega-story to get in on the ground floor of "Cable." "We took pains to explain the situation quickly and clearly," Swierczynski explained. "The first story arc is all the primer you need for the rest of the series."
Cable's appearance in "Messiah CompleX" has many fans wondering where and more importantly when he came from. One of the central mysteries in Swierczynski's "Cable" series will be whether his protagonist has time traveled from the past or the future. "Cable could potentially end up anywhere -- and anywhen. There is definitely a time travel element to this series, and when I sat down with the X-Fellas (Axel, Nick Lowe, Will Panzo) we tried to come up with some time travel tricks we've never seen before," Swierczynski said. "If I say anything else, there's a chance my grandfather will die as a child, and I will never be born, and this interview will erase itself."
He may have access to time travel, but that doesn't mean Cable's life will be a cakewalk in his new series. "Cable's always got shitt figured out. Knows what to do, when to do it... until now. We've thrown him into a situation where he's handicapped like never before," Swierczynski explained. "And that's the fun of a character like Cable, as well as other famous bad-asses before him (Harry Callahan, RoboCop, The Man with No Name) who have a rigid set of internal rules. You want to squeeze them and their silly little rules to the breaking point... then see how they react.
"I can't say much about the first arc without spoiling things," Swierczynski continued. "But let me give you a few random details: A Jersey diner. Impromptu living room surgery. Robot body parts. Eyeball sucking. Snipers. Beer for breakfast. Flesh wound cauterization. A beach in Scotland. (Crap. You probably have the whole thing figured out by now...)"
The people making life difficult for Cable in his new series aren't your usual villains. "Typically you think of a 'bad guy'as someone who revels in evil -- the guy who wants to pee on everybody's Cheerios. Not so in 'Cable.' In fact, Cable's prime baddie is someone who may not be all that wrong," Swierczynski stated. "That doesn't mean this adversary isn't ruthless, or won't hesitate to rip through anyone who gets in his/her way. It's that you can kinda maybe understand where he/she is coming from."
"Cable" will also feature a colorful supporting cast; many of whom will be familiar faces. "You'll definitely see some old Cable pals showing up. Cable's a guy who's a bit haunted by his past (or his future, to be more precise)," Swierczynski remarked. "While this new series is not exactly 'This Is Your Life, Nathan Summers,' what (and who) has come before will be very important."
Cable's mission in his new series is important to the other books in the "X-Men" line, but readers don't need to read them to enjoy the new series. It takes place in its own corner of the X-universe.
To create his new corner of the X-Universe, Swierczynski mined elements from many of his favorite films. "Yeah, there's a 'RoboCop'/ 'Terminator' feel here. But there's also a pinch of 'A Fistful of Dollars,'a dollop of 'Dirty Harry,'a sprinkling of Creature Double Features and a shot of chop socky flicks," he said. "It's funny -- Axel and I were talking about the specific influences on this story, and I realized that it's pretty much every Saturday afternoon movie/TV show I grew up with in the 1970s."
Swierczynski is just starting out in comics, but to crime fiction fans he's famous for his fast paced, dark, and wickedly funny novels like "The Wheelman" and "The Blonde." To fans of Swierczynski's books, a monthly comic series about a time traveling mutant solider may seem like a radical change of pace. "Actually, there's a big crime element to this new 'Cable' series: the police procedural, to be specific. But I don't think I'm straying too far from usual subject matter," Swierczynski stated. "My first novel, 'Secret Dead Men,'was about a guy who absorbs the dead and stores them in a hotel in his brain. And 'The Blonde'is about this hot chick who has to keep someone within 10 feet of her at all times, or her head will explode. I've always tried to mix in a little SF or horror weirdness in my stories -- mostly because it's fun. With 'Cable,'I feel right at home."