Cable (1st series) #29

Issue Date: 
March 1996
Story Title: 
Man In The Mirror

Jeph Loeb (writer), Ian Churchill (pencils), Scott Hanna (inks), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters), Mike Thomas (colors), Graphic Color Works (separations), Mark Powers (editor), Bob Harras (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Cable tries to figure out the mystery that is Nate Grey, but that is easier said than done. He decides to enlist the aid of the X-Men and Moira MacTaggert on this enigma, and an old ally as well. His team, X-Force, is training together with Domino when an immense aircraft lands in the mansion’s yard, piloted by Blaquesmith. Domino is less than pleased to see him again, so he wipes her and X-Force’s minds of seeing him today. To his surprise, Sunspot is not only unaffected, but impossibly begins speaking the Askani language. Cable dismisses Blaquesmith’s inquiries, simply saying that today’s business isn’t about Roberto DaCosta. He uses his telepathic powers to turn the boy back to normal, wipes his mind and makes him resume his training with the others. They then move inside the mansion where they join with Scott, Jean, Xavier, Storm and Moira, their meeting already in progress. Speaking to their subject, the enigmatic Nate Grey, Moira explains how she met him a while ago and thinks the boy’s power levels are close to those of the Dark Phoenix. The six continue their conversation, but quickly reach an impasse, due to lack of information. As such, Blaquesmith sees no other choice: he wipes the X-Men’s and Moira’s minds! Cable is upset at Blaquesmith for doing this to the people who trust him, but Blaquesmith doesn’t want so many people knowing about his existence. Cable now also realizes it was Nate Grey Blaquesmith was tracking on his maps of Europe on his ship, and wants to know why he kept it from him. Blaquesmith doesn’t answer, so Cable decides to go after Nate alone. He takes out a few weapons from the mansion’s hangar, and wants Blaquesmith to promise that if he doesn’t come out of this alive, he’ll tell the X-Men about what he did to them today. Blaquesmith reluctantly agrees to do it, and wishes his old friend a good journey. Cable leaves in a ship, ready to confront… the X-Man!

Full Summary: 

Xavier’s… where one of it’s more “learned” guests is lost in thoughts…

Cable sits behind a desk and stares at a picture he drew of Nate Grey, also known as the X-Man, and wonders who the kid is. Grey is apparently someone like Cable… but certainly not him. Cable learned Grey has power on an unimaginable scale and has touched the lives around Nathan. Grey has been in contact with Xavier. Moira. And even the psychotic Sugarman. And, for all Cable knows… Sinister.

Cable is a man on a mission. He was raised in a future that was crushed under the boot heel of the despot known as Apocalypse. Somewhere, in this present day, Nathan Dayspring Summers searches for a way to change that. It has led him to a mystery. In the tiny African nation known as Genosha, he learned of a young man who is apparently his double. “Someone like you, but not you,” Mr. Sinister told Cable.

Nathan recalls how quickly this has escalated. He even had to involve Blaquesmith. He hears a noise outside and wonders what it is. Nathan looks outside the window and sees his team training… X-Force. He wonders if those kids know how proud he is of them. He wonders if they knew what he had to do… would they ever follow him again.

Outside, X-Force’s training is suddenly stopped by a huge landing aircraft. Even though the kids and Domino thought they had seen everything, they are still impressed at the sight of the vehicle. Someone steps out of it and Domino, who immediately recognizes the visitor, isn’t pleased to see… Blaquesmith. Domino jokes she thought Blaquesmith only hid with the other rats on that ship of his.

There are only a handful of people who know of Blaquesmith’s existence. He took the codename when he was brought into the order of the Askani, the quasi-religious clan that raised Cable in that lost future time. He serves as something as a mentor to Cable… though not entirely a welcome one.

Blaquesmith telepathically contacts Domino and tells her she’s as spirited as ever. Domino dislikes the telepathic conversations, as they give her a headache, and she demands he stops it. She remembers the last time she ran into Blaquesmith, but he stops here there. Still communicating telepathically, Blaquesmith orders the rest of X-Force to continue about their business and makes them think their paths never crossed today. Domino orders the team to enact maneuver five with Caliban and Warpath.

Blaquesmith approaches Sunspot, who suddenly begins speaking to him… in the Askani language?! Blaquesmith is shocked to discover the boy doesn’t respond to his psychotic command, and that Roberto even speaks the language of the Askani! How is that possible? Sunspot continues to speak Askani and kneels before Blaquesmith, who tells Sunspot he may rise. Having heard Roberto’s pledge, the curious Blaquesmith asks how he can speak in this tongue.

Suddenly, however, Cable comes outside and telepathically orders Blaquesmith to leave Sunspot be. Blaquesmith telepathically asks Cable how Sunspot can speak Askani, but Cable replies that that doesn’t concern him. Blaquesmith defends that all things Askani concern him. It’s what brings him there today, despite the danger it places the both of them in. Cable wants to repeat this only once: today’s business does not involve Roberto DaCosta. He shouts at Sunspot to continue with his training. Sunspot turns back to normal, and in English tells Cable he’ll be on his way.

Shortly, inside the mansion…

Blaquesmith and Cable walk through the halls of the mansion. Nathan informs his old friend the others are waiting for him and that he doesn’t like involving Blaquesmith directly in this. At the risk of sounding flippant, Blaquesmith says, “What is… is.” They pass some old pictures of the original X-Men, and Blaquesmith also sees one of Cable when he was still a baby. Blaquesmith jokes it’s charming. He never saw Cable prior the techno-organic infection and tells Nathan that he looked rather cute when he was this young. He wonders in what ways Nathan’s powers would have manifested themselves if he hadn’t been hampered by Apocalypse’s affliction. Cable angrily tells Blaquesmith he doesn’t consider himself to be “hampered.” Blaquesmith continues to look at the picture and thinks it definitely looks “cute.” He quietly remarks how life can change them.

They enter a room where also Storm, Scott, Jean, Xavier and Moira are. Storm says hi to Nathan and mentions they were just beginning. Cable sees a holographic image of himself. He introduces Blaquesmith to the group, as no one has met him before, besides Xavier that is. Cable adds that Blaquesmith is an ally of his, and may be of help in what they’re trying to accomplish there today. Xavier tells Blaquesmith they meet yet again and Blaquesmith confirms, adding that they re-meet with new hope that they can resolve this matter. Cable notices how every looks at him. He wonders in himself if it’s out of concern, or something else.

Nathan tells Moira he appreciates her coming there all the way from Muir Island and asks how she’s feeling. Moira explains she has both her good days and bad. What helps her is knowing she has friends like Nathan.

Moira explains what has brought them there today first manifested itself as a “disturbance” on the psionic plane. Soon it became traceable as a bio-scan identical to Cable’s and, if Moira hadn’t seen the boy by herself, she thinks she’d speak for the group when she said that they believed Stryfe had returned from the dead. Thus, Xavier adds, they are somehow dealing with a third, and until recently unknown, entity.

As the conversation continues, Jean telepathically speaks to Scott, telling him she finds Blaquesmith to be an odd little man. She can almost feel him probing their minds, trying to break through their psionic rapport. Scott knows and he can’t say he likes it. Blaquesmith telepathically informs Cable he is blocking their thoughts from the others, though in this group that is quite a task. Being in presence with the fabled “first ones” awes him. Cable needs Blaquesmith to remain focused for what lies ahead.

Oblivious to these conversations, Xavier shows a holographic image of someone who calls himself Nate Grey, and what his relation is with Jean Grey and her family remains uncertain. Moira’s tests on the boy indicated he is not a clone, and yet, paradoxically, has exactly the same DNA make-up as Cable. Lastly, and perhaps of the most consequence, Nate Grey’s psi-power is like none Xavier has ever encountered before. So great is the boy’s potential that when he utilizes it actually creates a ripple on the psionic plane. Cable looks at X-Man’s image, and recalls how Sinister described him: “someone like him, but not you”. Cable believes that would be just like Sinister, with his twisted experiments, to have a hand in all this. “But how,” Nathan wonders.

Jean telepathically informs Charles that Cable has completely shut his thoughts from her. Xavier is already aware of that. He noticed both Cable and Blaquesmith are blocking any telepathic probe quite effectively. Storm thinks that what Xavier is saying is that this child could pose a great menace to the very world… a menace that must be dealt with immediately. Moira agrees. But, she reminds everyone, they’ve only amassed this theory, and that it appears that the psionic energy Nate Grey carries is far beyond what any human vessel can contain. “Without the exception of me,” Cable thinks Moira means.

Xavier confirms that. He reminds Cable that they don’t know the full effects of the techno-organic virus on his body. Cable defends he does know them, as he lives with it every second of every day. As a child, he was taught to use his power to hold his body together. Since then, he always assumed that the virus acts as a diversion for that power. Moira admits they have been long in agreement on that point. But before now, they could only have guessed at the level of Nathan’s telepathy. What they’re dealing with now is that power unfettered.

They cannot be certain of this, Moira continues, but if they extrapolate from what they know of the boy’s power, it equals the most uncontainable psionic energy that they have on record… that of the Dark Phoenix! Whereas the Phoenix was twisted by the sensations of a human wielding god-like power, Nate Grey is an adolescent who is unprepared physically… mentally and emotionally… to contain such devastating power. Moira shows images of both Dark Phoenix and Nate Grey on monitors to indicate what she means. She thinks the boy has a power, if corrupted, could consume him utterly, as well as all around him.

Storm is shocked and Scott asks Moira if she’s sure. Jean tells Charles there must be a way to gain the boy’s trust. Charles agrees there may be one, but even he has failed in this regard. Moira doesn’t think there’s an easy solution. Blaquesmith remains quiet. Cable tells Blaquesmith that, when he visited him at his ship, he was attacked by energy patterns through Europe. He thinks he has known about Nate Grey all along. Cable becomes angry and demands to know why Blaquesmith kept this from him. What could Blaquesmith have possibly hoped to accomplish from this?

Scott tries to calm Nathan down, telling him they won’t gain anything from finger pointing now. They’ve got to get all the X-Men, and even X-Force, together on this. Blaquesmith telepathically tells Cable they can’t do that. The risk is too great and the X-Men can’t be jeopardized. This boy was unforeseen and shouldn’t exist. He could destroy all they have fought and planned for. He claims this is business of the Askani… and the task of the Chosen One.

It happens quickly. Blaquesmith calls upon the power of an age yet to come to render the X-Men helpless. The X-Men and Moira are suddenly surrounded by a great, red light, and for them, time comes to a standstill. Cable asks Blaquesmith what he has done. Blaquesmith explains they were left with no alternative, and he tells Cable he knows the X-Men wouldn’t let him handle this alone. Now, Cable has most likely spared their lives. Cable wonders what’s stopping him from awakening them. “Me,” Blaquesmith replies. The X-Men will remain here until the boy is found. He tells Cable he knows this is the only way.

In that brief moment, memories were altered. A meeting which was held to deal with the problem of Nate Grey will only be remembered as a serious discussion of the status of the Legacy Virus. But, time is short. This will fade… Xavier and Jean Grey will remember before much longer.

Moira shows the X-Men around her a holographic image of how the Legacy Virus really looks like. She explains that while there has not been significant progress towards a cure, clearly Charles’ recent appearance before the World Health Organization has helped alleviate some of the media hysteria.

Cable and Blaquesmith leave the room. As Cable looks back, he wishes he could tell the X-Men he is sorry. But he remembers something which is essential to the Clan Askani. “Sorry” has no weight, even no meaning. There is only the situation and not the circumstance under which it arrived.

Later, at the mansion’s hangar, the arsenal room…

While Cable checks out some guns, Blaquesmith asks him if the way of the warrior always lead Cable back to a closet of armaments. Does Cable have that little faith in their teachings? Cable takes out a large gun. He explains to Blaquesmith that, from what they know about the kid, he seems to have the same powers, the same bio-signature, and who knows what else. What Nathan is betting on is that Nate Grey doesn’t have any knowledge of the Askani teachings. It’s part of what makes the kid so dangerous, but might also give Nathan the edge. And like any smart warrior, he’ll be using everything at his disposal.

Blaquesmith is certain they can prevent a disaster from happening if they work together. Cable quickly points his gun at Blaquesmith’s head, yelling at him that he won’t come. He says he’ll reluctantly agree that the action they’ve taken here, what he’s going along with, is necessary to make certain their all-consuming mission is preserved. But he still knows what he did. Xavier and the X-Men trusted him. And he took advantage of that. If he doesn’t come back from this alive, he wants Blaquesmith to set things right. Blaquesmith doesn’t understand as they’ve altered memories before. Cable defends this was different.

Cable gets inside his ship and leaves. As he departs, he telepathically contacts Blaquesmith, telling him he always wanted him to accept the mantle of “Askani’Son.” Now, they both have to live with it. Blaquesmith stays behind in the hangar, wishing his friend a good journey.

Characters Involved: 



Cannonball, Caliban, Meltdown, Shatterstar, Siryn, Sunspot, Warpath (all X-Force)


Cyclops, Jean Grey, Professor X, Storm (all X-Men)

Moira MacTaggert

On Cable’s picture:

X-Man (Nate Grey)

On pictures at the Xavier Mansion:

Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman, Professor X (all original X-Men)

baby Nathan Summers

on displays during the X-Men’s discussions:


X-Man (Nate Grey)

Dark Phoenix

Story Notes: 

More about Cable’s childhood can be found in the limited series Askani’Son.

More about Sunspot’s secrets can be found in X-Force (1st series) #50.

Xavier and Blaquesmith met in X-Man #10.

Moira’s meeting with Nate Grey can be found throughout X-Man #12 and Excalibur (1st series) #95.

Blaquesmith’s identification of “the fabled first ones” is lined out in The Adventures of Cyclops & Phoenix #4.

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