Cable (1st series) #28

Issue Date: 
February 1996
Story Title: 
Tick… Tick… Tick!

Jeph Loeb (writer), Wilfred (pencils), Scott Hanna & Rachael Hawkey (inks), Chris Eliopoulos (letters), Adam Walenta (colors), Mark Powers (editor), Bob Harras (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

As his secret lab has been discovered by Cable, Domino, Phillip, Jenny and Pipeline, the Sugarman decides to cut his losses by activating nuclear self-destruct. However, he then notices it’s not Nate Grey has arrived, but instead Cable who threatens to ruin all his plans. Soon thereafter, Cable and his friends burst into Sugarman’s lair and attack. Cable tries to reach into Sugarman’s head, but his thoughts are too unfocused and Cable only discovers the creature hails from another world. As Cable reels from the strain, Sugarman tries to escape, but is followed by Phillip who demands to know the truth about his father. Sugarman reveals he and Dr. David Moreau did indeed work together, as he supplied the technology David needed to invent the mutate bounding process. In return Sugarman got his power base and the “only” thing it cost David was his soul and his family. Sugarman takes a liking in Phillip and has some new plans for him. He stretches out his large tongue and traps Phillip in it, and teleports them both away to an unknown location. Witnessing this, Jenny is heartbroken, promising she’ll find her beloved no matter what. Elsewhere, Cable finds Sugarman’s main computers which could stop the meltdown, but the computer requires a password to get inside. Luckily, after Pipeline teleport himself and Jenny to a safe location, per Cable’s orders, Domino helps Cable with the password by trying to make him remember what he saw in Sugarman’s head, namely the password: “sugar.” Cable uses the password to gain computer access and manages to deactivate the self-destruct. Their celebration is short-lived, as Mr. Sinister finally steps out of the shadows and reveals that it was really him who teleported Cable and Domino to Genosha and set them both up. Their task was his own, and he promises that the world will never see the mutate bonding process again. Before he then teleports them away, Sinister leaves Cable with a parting thought – the mystery of “Nate Grey.” After they have departed, Sinister discusses with Threnody what they know about the X-Man. She says they know nothing, which Sinister is very aware is a lie. Elsewhere, Pipeline and Jenny arrive at the magistrate base, where Pipeline suggests they all rethink this long war, as he now knows the truth about who rules Genosha. While all this is taking place, the Dark Beast takes advantage to pull some data about the X-Men from Sugarman’s computers, but something goes wrong. When Dark Beast begins to download data about a name Sugarman’s computers shut down. Dark Beast finds that a pitty, as he thought he was on to something.

Full Summary: 

Somewhere hidden…

Sugarman sits in a dark room and touches buttons on a control panel. “Destroy them all. No fuss, no muss,” he utters as he initiates a core meltdown in the lab where Cable, Domino and the others are!

The lab…

“Warning: commencement of nuclear meltdown in sixty seconds. All personal should evacuate area,” is heard across the entire room.

60 second left…

Cable is furious and demands to know from Phillip what “core meltdown” means. Domino thinks they should be more worried about the sixty seconds they’ve got left. Cable demands to know the truth: does Genosha have nuclear capability? Phillip swears he doesn’t know.

59 seconds left…

Another quake vibrates the entire room, and damages some of the equipment. Everyone immediately shares the same thought: the quake isn’t natural in its making. As the earth gives birth to the horrible, twisted product of their unseen antagonist, the heart of the thermal nuclear reactor core is revealed! Pipeline looks below from the balcony they were standing on, and looks at the reactor. He mocks Cable now has his question answered. Now, what will he do about it? “What do we do?” Cable shouts out. They’ll find a way to shut the reactor down… or die trying!

58, 57, 56 seconds left…

A door opens and mutates begin fleeing in terror, fearing for their lives. Pipeline thinks this is nuts, as he could simply teleport them all out of there. Phillip angrily points both his guns at Pipeline, wanting to get something straight: if there is going to be an evacuation, Cable will have to call it first. Until then, they’re staying put for as long as they do. Pipeline understands and jokes he was only making a suggestion. Phillip tells Cable it’s his call: what are they going to do? Cable thinks they should find out who those mutates were running away from.

50 seconds left…

Deep inside the Sugarman’s lair…

Sugarman is saddened as it all comes apart. Twenty years he worked in the shadows of Genosha. He built up this country from nothing. Like at the core. The High Lord respected a job well done. He recalls he somehow came to this ball of mud and made it work again without Apocalypse. Now, they all want to take that away. Sugarman realizes the son of Moreau didn’t find him all by himself, so he wonders who betrayed him. He thinks it can’t be “the beast of Thepens,” as he would have seen his little prelate, otherwise. Sugarman also thinks it can’t be Nate Grey, even though he’s worried about him. But, Sugarman concludes, he’s going to have to kill this unforeseen one before it’s too late. He thinks Grey has the power to ruin everything. He will have to kill this Cable! <>

Behind Sugarman, lots of drawings he made of Cable hang on the wall.

48, 47, 46 seconds left…

While Sugarman tends to his computers, he doesn’t realize that Mr. Sinister is watching him from in the shadows. “Puzzles,” Sinister quietly thinks to himself. He admits he long suspected that the Genoshan mutate was based on his own genetic handiwork. And now that he learned Sugarman apparently appropriated it, he really disapproves. It’s the second such perversion of his work. Sinister notices that Sugarman seems willing to turn this god-forsaken country into ash. And, he believes, since these mutates cannot reproduce and have no intrinsic value to the genepool, Sinister sees no reason to stop Sugarman. Only, he heard Sugarman referring to… “this other one.” Nate Grey. Sinister recalls that Cable is his personal pet project. Speaking of which, he wonders what Cable is up to now.

A moment later, almost in response, Cable and the others burst through a wall of Sugarman’s lair! “Company,” Sinister jokes.

44 seconds left…

Cable spots they’ve arrived in the nerve center and that it’s guarded by some sort of hideously deformed mutant. Phillip can only think about what kind of connection the creature has towards his father. Jenny wonders if this is what Essex – wherever he is – wanted them to find. Pipeline is disgusted that, for all these years, Genosha’s energy came from some sort of mutant. Domino telepathically tells Cable that if this creature is what’s standing between them and shutting down the core… they’ll just have to kill it!

Sugarman wants to get one thing straight: everybody leaves, or everybody dies. And… he gets to keep the son of Moreau. And he wants to get this “other” Nate Grey first. Hearing Sugarman calling him “Grey,” Cable wonders who this mutant thinks he’s dealing with.

40 seconds left…

He’ll have to work on that later. He fires a shot at Sugarman, which hits him hard in the stomach! As Jenny and Phillip join the battle, Domino tackles Pipeline, noticing he was trying to escape. She had a feeling that the second Cable became distracted he’d try and skip out on them. Pipeline defends he never ran away from a fight in his life!

38, 37, 36 seconds left…

In the heat of the raging battle comes the mettle of a true hero. Nathan Dayspring Summers has been a soldier nearly all his life. Even within himself, a body ravaged by a techno-organic virus, a war is raged constantly. And yet, despite the personal consequences, when there are lives at stake… CABLE FIGHTS ON!

Sugarman mocks that others besides Cable have tried to kill him and is certain that, like them, Cable shall fail. Cable wants to risk going inside Sugarman’s head, hoping to find any way to shut down the core. Once inside, Cable feels nothing but evil in it. He finds jumbled thoughts, almost as if… Sugarman is from another world… or time?

32, 31, 30 seconds left…


Halfway around the world, another visitor from a time now lost watches. His name, for want of a better one, is merely “Dark Beast.” He is something of a warped reflection of this timeline’s Hank McCoy, the bouncing, furry, blue X-Man known as the Beast. Like Hank McCoy, this Dark Beast is a brilliant scientist. Unlike McCoy, he is less than virtuous…

Sitting in his lair on a chair, Dark Beast observes Archangel, Cyclops, Iceman, Jean Grey, Havok, Random and the Sugarman on his many monitors. He hears opportunity knock. He claims that, while his… associate… the Sugarman is occupied with yet another Nate Grey, he wants to see if Sugarman has anything in his databases that he doesn’t have in his own. He finds data on Cyclops, Phoenix, Iceman and Archangel, but when the next subject mentions a name starting with “B,” a warning sign comes up and reads “sorry, system error has occurred.” Dark Beast finds this to be a pity, as it looked like they were coming up on something. He finds that intriguing.

26, 25, 24 seconds left…

Back at Genosha…

Sugarman tosses Cable against a wall and says it’s time for him to go. Cable admits to himself he dropped his guard down, but being in Sugarman’s head felt like swimming with maggots. While Domino and Pipeline tend to Cable to make sure he’s okay, Sugarman takes the opportunity to try to escape. Phillip notices this and angrily chases Sugarman, refusing to let him go without him giving him some answers first. Seeing what her beloved is doing, Jenny worries about his safety.

20 seconds left…

Sugarman climbs up a ladder and recalls how Apocalypse always used Scorchdearth policy, and he liked that. Phillip wants to go after him and tells Jenny to go back: this is something he has to do alone. Jenny jokes that’s fine by her, at least for as long as Phillip includes her.

A few seconds later, atop the core itself…

Sugarman faces a dead end. He turns around and sees Phillip, who points his gun at the villain. “Son of a Moreau,” Sugarman calls him. He asks Phillip if he wants to pull the trigger, and if he thinks that will change anything. Phillip asks Sugarman if he knew his father and, if so, he demands to know what the two of them did.

19, 18, 17 seconds left…

Sugarman reveals he has known Phillip a long time. He watched Phillip grow up from a small pup. And he really did know Phillip’s father. Sugarman claims the old man would still be playing with Bunsen burners if it wasn’t for him. Phillip doesn’t understand what he’s saying. That his father didn’t invent the mutate bounding process? That the reason the state this in the state it is… where humans and mutates are divided in a civil war… a class war… a race war… wasn’t because of his father?! Sugarman claims that Phillip is just like his father. Just like his dad, Phillip wants to have the answers but doesn’t want all the questions. Twenty years… twenty years passed, and Sugarman never told Phillip this story!

Sugarman reveals he came from a different place. When he came here, he brought with him… some stuff from his world… from the Horseman known as Sinister! Afterward, he met Dr. David Moreau, who understood science, and wanted more science. They made a deal. Moreau got the knowledge he craved, while Sugarman received the power base. All it cost Moreau was his soul and his family and Sugarman bets Moreau would do it all over again if he had the choice.

16, 15, 14 seconds left…

Sugarman extends out his tongue and traps Phillip in it! “No more talk,” he proclaims. “No more time.” He claims he likes Phillip and mocks that there are still worlds out there to conquer. Phillip shouts at Sugarman to let him go or he swears he’ll kill him. Jenny rushes on top of the core, worrying for Phillip, and once she’s on the top she can see Sugarman jumping off it, together with Phillip, and…. He teleports away! Jenny cries.

13, 12, 11 seconds left…

At the center nerve, Cable, Domino and Pipeline are discussing what to do. Pipeline fears they’re going to die. Domino, however, jokes she can think of eleven ways to shut Pipeline down if he doesn’t by his own, warning him that none of the ways are pleasant. Cable tries to reach into a computer, but it keeps saying “no entry.” Nathan believes that whoever designed this sure knew what he was doing, as they are locked out without a key. Domino asks Pipeline if he can’t just teleport the core out of there… like into outer space? Pipeline claims there’s no way he can teleport something that big. It’s so unstable he could get it off just trying to digitize it. Cable thinks he’s missing something, and that Sugarman would have to have a fail safe to shut it down. Domino is certain Cable will find it, joking they’ve got plenty of time.

10 seconds left…

Jenny meets up with them and cries that Phillip and Sugarman are both gone. In that case, Cable says, they’re out of luck and time. He orders Pipeline to take Domino and Jenny out of there, hoping the blast maybe won’t reach Hammer Bay. Domino agrees they should get Jenny and Pipeline out of there, but she’ll be staying until the end. Jenny won’t leave either. This is her country they’re fighting for! Cable doesn’t want to debate on this. Domino tells him not to turn it into one then. She knows what Nathan is doing. He wants to save her because he couldn’t save Jenskot. But she won’t let it go down like that. She’ll see this through right besides him!

9, 8 seconds left…

Cable thinks to himself that maybe Domino is right. But he can’t let anyone else die on his watch! He telepathically orders Pipeline to take Domino and Jenny out of there! Pipeline angrily tells Cable that, if it were up for him, they’d be already gone, but his lady friends got other ideas. Domino quickly pulls Cable’s gun towards Pipeline’s head, ordering him to do what Cable said: take himself and Jenny out of there. Cable shouts at Domino not to do this. He angrily calls her the most stubborn, bull-headed woman he ever met. Domino reminds Cable they’re wasting time here. Pipeline understands and mentions they’re out of here. He grabs Jenny’s arm and teleports them both away, against Jenny’s wishes.

7, 6 seconds left…

Magistrate headquarters, Hammer Bay…

Although it’s on the other side of the country, this base too was rocked when the core emerged. Pipeline and Jenny successfully materialize inside the half-destroyed base. Hawkshaw and Punchout quickly point their guns at Phillip. Hawkshaw angrily tells Pipeline he made it through, but is mad at him for bringing Moreau’s girlfriend to their base. Pipeline orders his two comrades to put down their guns. He explains they’ve all been used and suckered. He doesn’t think it matters if you’re a magistrate or rebel right now. If Cable succeeds, they’re all going to have to rethink how and who runs this country! Jenny thinks to herself that, if Cable succeeds, she’ll find Phillip, no matter what.

5, 4 seconds left…

Back at the core, Domino asks Cable if there isn’t a telepathic way to shut down the core. Cable explains that Sugarman has a triggering mechanism for it, almost as if he expected a telepath would try to take him down. Domino asks Cable to think. He was in the creature’s head! She wants Cable to think about what was important to Sugarman… Cable wonders if it could be that simple. It’s almost childlike.

3 seconds left…

Cable types a word into the computer: “sugar.” A code appears: 78437. They have successfully interrupted the meltdown and all systems are back to normal! Cable is relieved they’re okay, though Domino says she never had any doubts about it. She asks Cable if he regrets now that he wanted to send her off. Cable begins to tell her something, but then someone finally appears out of the shadows… Mr. Sinister! Sinister admits that, despite the odds, Cable never ceases to amaze him. Cable immediately recognizes Sinister and already thought he sensed him. Domino is angry at Sinister for setting them up and wants to attack him, but before she can do so Sinister points his hand forward, and Domino immediately falls sleep. He claims she has played out her role for today, and this conversation is for Cable’s ears only.

Cable tends to Domino, holding her in his arms, promising that he’ll kill Sinister if he hurt her. Sinister asks Cable to stop it, as they both know Cable isn’t up for a battle right now and Sinister doesn’t want one either. Besides, he wants Cable to ask himself, what does he really know about their enigmatic Domino anyway? He doesn’t even know Domino’s real name. When Cable asks Sinister what he wants, Sinister claims it’s what he always wants. Something. Nothing. A little of both. He admits Domino was right and that he indeed set him up. He got them both to Genosha and Cable did the rest. What began as his… is now his once again. He congratulates Cable as now the world doesn’t need to fear the mutate bonding process ever again.

Cable tells Sinister he’s not his errand boy, to which Sinister replies that Cable is whatever he wants him to be. He always has been. But, he can see Cable is anxious to get back home. As he sends Cable on his way, Sinister wants Cable to leave with this thought: Sugarman expected someone else today. Someone he has reason to fear. Someone who is like Cable, but isn’t him. “Who, Chosen One?” Sugarman ends. “Who?”

A purple light fills the room, and he teleports both Cable and Domino back home. “Who indeed,” Sinister says. He asks Threnody if she’s listening. A holographic image of Threnody appears behind Sinister and explains she’s listening as always, and is at Sinister’s service. Sinister asks Threnody what they know about this “Nate Grey.” Hesitant, Threnody lies that they know nothing. She lies this is the first time she heard the name. “Really,” Sinister says. In that case, they’ll prepare a search in earnest once they return. This being will be found.

To himself, Sinister calls Threnody a “poor, misguided child.” He knows Threnody believes he’s unaware of her actions and almost regrets punishing her. Sinister picks up a drawing Sugarman made of Nate Grey that looks just like Cable, and finds it to be very curious.

Characters Involved: 



Phillip Moreau

Jenny Ransome

Hawkshaw, Pipeline, Punchout (all magistrates)


Mr. Sinister


Dark Beast

On Dark Beast’s monitors:

Archangel, Cyclops, Iceman, Jean Grey (all X-Men)

Havok, Random (X-Factor)


Story Notes: 

Cable and Domino spend time in Cable’s future in Cable (1st series) #25.

More about Sugarman’s time working with Apocalypse can be found in Generation Next #1-4. Sugarman and Nate Grey met in X-Man #9. Sugarman of course originates from the alternate universe known as the Age of Apocalypse, but Cable isn’t of course aware of this.

Havok’s fight against Random takes place in X-Factor (1st series) #118.

In the Age of Apocalypse, Mr. Sinister was indeed a Horseman of Apocalypse.

What happens to Sugarman and Philip after they teleport away in this issue remains a mystery. Phillip reappears fully intact and back at Jenny’s side in the Magneto Rex limited series, and Sugarman continues his evil ways. How Phillip escaped from Sugarman’s clutches is also never revealed.

Threnody has been spending a lot of time with Nate Grey, the X-Man, in his own series and is even in love with him, but doesn’t want Mr. Sinister to know this.

Issue Information: 
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