Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

140 – Unto Us a Retcon Is Given (feat. Dennis Hopeless)

Art by David Wynne. Prints and cards available at the shop, or contact David to purchase the original.

In which writer Dennis Hopeless returns to the show for an informal introduction to the (first) mutant messiah; Cable is the best-case retcon scenario; Summerses don’t get to retire; calculating relative character age remains functionally impossible; Cable is Marsha to Stryfe’s Jan; and there’s probably already a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta about all of this.


  • That one time Cable and Stryfe shared a body
  • Cable (Nathan Christopher Charles Summers)
  • Spinning nonsense into gold
  • Cable and X-Force
  • Cable’s controversial creative origins
  • Collaborative character creation
  • Cable origins that might have been
  • A whole lot of time travel
  • A whole lot of Summers family nonsense
  • Professor (Ship)
  • Tyler Dayspring (Tolliver)
  • Hope Summers
  • How to make Cable interesting
  • What to do after you save the world
  • Still more time travel
  • Look, there’s a lot of time travel, okay?
  • Old-man strength
  • Stryfe
  • David Willis’s theory of Batman humor (and Jay’s derivative theory of Stryfe humor)
  • Muscle March
  • Cable’s role on teams
  • Stryfe vs. Hope
  • Cable’s theoretical legal career
  • Quantum operetta theory

NEXT EPISODE: Cable’s on-page debut!

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  1. I have a question about Cable, perhaps someone can answer. Has that gun of his ever come in useful for defeating any significant opponent he has faced?

  2. I remember HATING on Cable when he just arrived. Like, passionately hating.
    Here come this… dude from nowhere, suddenly and without any reason (by my taste) he gets the whole Wolverine treatment – He’s everywhere, he’s better then everyone, he treats any other X-Men before him like he was a newbie, he kills senior X-villains like they where nothing. Worst then that – he enters my favorite X-books and completely and utterly destroys it! It was such a change of tone that it felt like an entirely different book. Hell, it felt like a different franchise. Here comes Cable, and all the New Mutants – the characters this series is named on! – are swiped to the background. Suddenly it was Cable (!) – and those other characters you love, just so you keep reading this book… It felt like a treachery! And all this new ensemble and cast related to Cable. It was a new book and it didn’t feel like a X-book. Cable didn’t feel like a X-character. He was an outsider, like Deadpool, filling the spot of a former X-book like it was none of his business. I think that to this day – Cable still feels to me like a side character to the X-world, and I think it should be this way. Like it was in the X-Men TAS.

    Anyway, as much as I hated Cable and the new direction Marvel was going to with him – When Fabian Nicieza took over X-Force and severely mellowed Cable down it felt to me like he took away everything that was unique and interesting in this character. As much as I hated him, Cable did have a distinctive (though very loud) voice. I preferred angry gun-man Cable, with his no-mercy for no reason attitude and him not giving a crap for no one – over the boring, peaceful, pious version of Nicieza.

    So Cable didn’t bother me again for the rest of the 90’s – I couldn’t care less about him. Then came the 20’s with Swierczynski and Olivetti new Cable series – and I found myself for the first time caring for this character. It found his new-old voice, being the old grumpy soldier-dude that originated in his debut but also a more subtle, more humane one, that you can actually refer to as a human being.

    1. That would have saved me a bunch of money if they did that six months ago. I started buying back issues of New Mutants when I ran out of stuff to read on Marvel Unlimited. This led to me getting late-Claremont and then Simonson stuff. As it stands, the only issue of the Simonson/Liefeld era that I don’t own is #98 because Deadpool has made that issue prohibitively expensive.

      I do wish they’d put #45 on MU. That’s an issue I consistently recommend that people read, so I wish they’d add it. Still, as it stands, 1-40, 55-61, 71-73 (Inferno), and 86-100 are all there now. So we have at least 65% of New Mutants available, which is far better than it was back in the day (when I think it went 1-20 and then something like 97-100). Now we just need X-Factor to catch up.

  3. It’s so hard to separate me feelings of Cable from my hatred of Liefeld. It clouds my perception of the character even now.

    I’m suprised, a whole episode about Cable, and no mention of Deadpool….

    I really wish we’d get more interactions between him and Rachael. They always hyped up the fact that baby Nathan Charles ect ect ect had this bond with his half-ish sister from another dimension, and yet their adult meetings are few and far between.

  4. Speaking of things that got mentioned and, as far as I can tell, never followed up: In Cable #49, Donald Pierce indicates that the first person to remove part of his body was Nathan Summers. Did that ever get expanded on?

    Also… *backs away to a safe distance*

    Deadpool. 🙂

    Are you guys going to be forced to cover Deadpool when we get to the era when Cable & Deadpool was an actual title?

    Possible spoilers for some below…

    Oddly, the comment about Cable’s son becoming an arms dealer made me realize that there’s at least a couple of major things in Deadpool books that come from earlier X-related books. Most relevantly here, the arms dealer that Tyler became was Tolliver, the aftermath of whose (faked) death was the driving force of the first Deadpool mini-series.

    Less relevant here, but probably more important over time for Deadpool is Landau, Luckman and Lake. Though introduced in Wolverine, they would become hugely important in the first Deadpool ongoing book.

    I have no idea if these things are significant, but they are indeed things. I’m interested in things. 🙂

    1. “Are you guys going to be forced to cover Deadpool when we get to the era when Cable & Deadpool was an actual title?”

      God, I hope not. I never percieved Cable nor Deadpool as a X-book. More like a niche. That being said, won’t it be HILARIOUS if they’ll cover X-MAN?! It was SO bad! 😀

      1. I liked whichever Cable and Deadpool was the one where Cable was on Providence attempting to “God-Emperor of Dune” his way to a better future. Deadpool was just kind of secondary to that plot, like the creative team wanted to tell a Cable story but were contractually obligated to involve Deadpool.

        Totally not an X-Book, but I really like Cable taking his future knowledge and trying to do everything the opposite of what he’s foreseen in order to make a better future. Kinda fun to see the Angry Gun Man deliberately trying to be neither Angry nor Gun in order to avoid ever having to have any Angry Gun Future was pretty neat.

    2. Deadpool is going come up in the course of covering the first volume of X-Force. Actually his first appearance is in one of the last issues of New Mutants in 1991. However, as Chad Bowers and Chris Sims brought up in episode 59, Deadpool is written very differently in the beginning. Will they need to tie that version of Deadpool to the current one? Eh.

      1. I would love it if they did an a spotlight on Deadpool episode (which is a suggestion that was made during one of the Captain Britain episodes).

        1. As a 90s X-Men fan I had to say Deadpool was never a big deal ever he popped up every once in a while but you know you were never going to see him again and the there was that creepy interest in siren because if you really think about it she was 17 years old and he was like 38

          1. I know he wasn’t big back then, but I do like Deadpool (probably because I’ve just seen the movie and read Uncanny X-Force) and would like to have Jay and Miles cover him.

  5. I’m confused by Jay’s mentions of “Cable” and “super-competent” in the same sentence. This is the guy who thinks he can just charge at Magneto and shoot him in Fatal Attractions. He then gets all of his metal ripped out.

    1. So Magneto did that Magneto AND Wolverine?

      Still, I suppose it is sort of the obvious means for a magnetism based character to attack both of them.

      1. Yep. When Wolverine got his metal ripped out, we cared about it. It motivated Charles Xavier to draw a line, we feared for Logan’s life and we discovered a secret to him which changed the character forever. When Cable got his metal ripped out, as far as I know, it had no long-term repercussions. He had completely recovered by the time of his appearance in the issue of Excalibur which ended the crossover. He does have the best reaction panel to seeing Rachel merging with Captain Britain in that issue.

  6. Cable has a ton of family generational issues, likes expensive toys, and needs to buy them in many different points in time. Plus, he and all of his family are constantly apparently dying. His legal specialty must be estates and trusts.

  7. The best Cable comics are the ones drawn by Ladronn in his style that mashed up Kirby and Moebius. Easily one of the highlights of 90s Marvel.

  8. Hey, I have been going over Claremont X-Men in the 2000s and found Cable was a member of the X-Men under Gambit as leader, the team also consisted of Beast, Phoenix, Storm and later Bishop. It was after Cyclops had merged with Apocalypse and they disappeared assuming them to have died. Cable who thought his destiny was now fulfilled had joined the team because of Jean who was going through a tough time because she was a widow and they had formed a mother son relationship that was really interesting.

  9. I admire your commitment to covering a character!

    I do have a question for you both. In the cases of Psylocke and Cable, two characters with some of the most convoluted, retconned and re-retconned backstories going, you’re introduced the entire retcon when first covering the event that got retconned. So with Psylocke’s turning Asian, you’ve immediately addressed that this was actually a bodyswap, rather than a modification of her original body, and with Cable, you’ve addressed his actual identity long before it was part of the actual stories. Is this a conscious choice?

    I wonder (and this is purely idle musing, not critiquing your choice) how different the coverage might have been if you had addressed the retcons only as they arose in the storylines. So Cable remains a mystery man, and the whole Psylocke/Kwannon thing is a long way aways.

    Probably a LOT more complicated to sort out and script at any rate! 🙂

    I like the idea that Cable’s legal speciality is inheritance law, with him getting extra marks for his daring papers on topics like “Inheriting from your parents when you are older than they are” and “When WAS the best time to set up a blind trust for your.. ahem.. ‘descendents’.”

  10. Honestly AvX was kinda dumb. Rachel Summers is proof the phoenix can be controlled and Cap did start things by trying to abduct Hope.

    The fan story firebirds by Antiochene was MUCH better and ends Hope Summer’s arc in a more satisfying (albeit heartbreaking) way

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