Cable (1st series) #35

Issue Date: 
October 1996
Story Title: 
It is always darkest …

Jeph Loeb (writer), Ian Churchill (penciler), Scott Hanna / Art Thibert (finishes), Mike Thomas (colorist), RS & Comicraft (letterer), Malibu (enhancements), Mark Powers (editor), Bob Harras(Editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

The Watcher witnesses the heroes’ last struggle. Cable and the Invisible Woman are unexpectedly joined by Apocalypse, who surprisingly proposes joining forces against Onslaught. He and Cable leave for the astral plane to save Franklin Richards from Onslaught’s clutches, leaving Susan behind. On the Astral Plane, Cable confronts Onslaught’s lackeys or telepathic versions thereof, while Apocalypse secretly plans to kill Franklin, rather than save him. The boy is saved by his mother, whose presence Cable kept hidden from Onslaught. Nevertheless, they are unable to free the boy, as Onslaught transports them back to the real world, where Apocalypse scoffs at the heroes’ foolishness.

Full Summary: 

The End, New York City, energy crackles in the sky and sad-eyed Watcher stands there to observe the tragedy about to unfurl. While his race is forbidden from interfering, he alone has taken a special interest in this world and its people. For, in the midst of great adversity, they have always had in themselves a capacity for hope and that faith has been rewarded by a unique and selfless few. Heroes, who lived in a time that will be known as the age of wonders. An age, which, he fears, is about to end. For the man who once personified that indomitable belief in a better tomorrow, Charles Xavier, has been corrupted by his baser instincts. And with the most powerful mutant mind on the planet, he has become the herald of Armageddon called Onslaught.

Street level. Barely protected by the head of a fallen Sentinel and their own powers, Cable, whose t-o-virus is spinning wildly out of control, and the Invisible Woman find themselves in the eye of a psionic hurricane. Cable doesn’t know how long they can hold out and suggests they go find the others. Susan wildly refuses. If he wants to go, then he should. But Onslaught has her son somewhere in his citadel. Maybe Cable doesn’t know what it’s like to be parent, but, if there’s a chance in a million that she can get her boy back, she’ll take that chance.

He knows all too well what it means to lose a family, Cable admits unexpectedly. Catching a good look of him, Susan inquires if he is okay. He doesn’t know, he admits and adds that he has this techno-organic virus, which is currently out of control. Susan offers for her husband, Reed, to help, once this is over. He admires her optimism, Cable states and adds that he and her son share a unique destiny. They’re both the sons of heroes… and they’ve both suffered because of it. They represent the next generation of the X-Men and the Fantastic Four. A generation which depends on their taking action now, Susan reminds him. Onslaught is growing more powerful as they speak. She is correct, a voice announces as a most unexpected figure appears behind them. You! Cable exclaims.

Imagine you are in the middle of your worst nightmare and you wake up to realize that the nightmare has only just started and you will have the first inkling of what Cable is now experiencing, as he comes face to face with Apocalypse. Addressing Cable as his once and future foe, Apocalypse states that he has waited so very long for this moment. Two warriors, their destinies entwined through eternity, meeting as one era ends… and another dawns. What better time to test the strength of a people… to see who among them will be strong enough to survive?

Cable’s whole life is about this single moment. He was born for the sole purpose of destroying the villain who stands before him. So, despite the psionic pain that tears through his body, Cable reacts instinctively, lashing out with psi-powers and fists to hit his foe. Surprisingly, Apocalypse defends himself rather than striking back, announcing that a battle with Cable now is not in his interest. When Cable doesn’t stop, Apocalypse calls him a fool and brutally hits him, announcing that his is the wisdom of ages. He observes the tapestry of history as it weaves from past to future, whereas Cable live on each single thread, never looking to the horizon. Even when the sole solution to the current crisis stands before him.

All he sees is a megalomaniac killer, Cable spits back. What if he told him that it were in his own interest to defeat Onslaught, the villain goads. For he alone knows of a way to separate the being from the boy whom Onslaught would use to alter reality – Franklin Richards. Cable doesn’t buy it and, yet, he cannot strike. He finds himself stopped by the invisible shields of Susan Richards. She knows what it’s like to make a deal with the devil, she tells the enraged hero. She had put aside all her hatred for Dr. Doom to save her husband. If Apocalypse knows of a way to save Franklin, they must hear him out!

Apocalypse grudgingly admits his admiration for Susan, before explaining that Onslaught is essentially a being of pure psionic energy. Hence, he will be vulnerable to the very place he draws his powers from – the Astral Plane. And, however distasteful Apocalypse may find it, only one man has the power to take him there – Cable. Cable turns away town with an internal conflict: every fibre in his body wants to end the threat of Apocalypse, but if there’s a chance to prevent Onslaught from accessing Franklin’s power … To save Franklin, he has to do it.

Cable agrees, but adds that the moment this is finished he will take Apocalypse down. They are wasting precious time, his stony-faced foe simply replies. Susan is eager to get started but En Sabah Nur informs her that only Cable and he will take this journey. Her presence isn’t required. Sue angrily protests to Cable, who telepathically tells her that Franklin’s best chance may lie in her not joining them. He asks for her trust, vowing he won’t let her boy die. Turning her face away, Susan wishes them Godspeed, as Apocalypse cynically replies that the only gods left are those on this battle field.

With that thought, he and Cable depart to reappear on the Astral Plane. That strange unknowable sphere that connects every mind on earth. A place that can only be accessed by a highly select handful of telepaths, of which Cable is one. Both of them seem to stand in space, as they look towards an energy field. Apocalypse loudly wonders if Onslaught is aware of the wreckage he brings upon the universe. How his very existence acts as a siphon, funnelling down collective psionic energy of all living creatures for his own usage. Glorious, is it not?

Cable scoffs at the thought. Onslaught creates nothing in his wake, save for turmoil and destruction. Only a warped mind like his could appreciate anything which violates the laws of nature, he snarls. And that’s why his path will never lead to anything but emptiness. Almost smirking, Apocalypse replies that he would never have considered a warrior of so many campaigns to be so… naïve.

Cable inwardly urges his enemy to go on ranting, while he uses the advantage a telepath has there in the realm of pure thought to pull himself together. Apocalypse notes the change and states that techno-organic virus he infected Cable with at birth has nearly run its course. Though he yet lives, all that he might have been has been irrevocably altered. Cable blusters that all he succeeded in doing was making him stronger. Something he’ll regret. Really? Apocalypse asks, unimpressed. Perhaps he should cure him then? Cable tells him to forget it. He’s lived with it for so long. He’ll deal with it. Apocalypse shows him their destination. The psionic manifestation of Earth below them is being torn apart. They move towards Onslaught’s citadel.

Outside the Astral Plane, atop a citadel built of solidified telepathic energy, Onslaught, a being of almost mythic proportions, surveys his conquests. Conceived as the psionic projection of the pent-up frustrations of Charles Xavier and emboldened into life by the genetic hatred of Magneto, Onslaught is now a being unto itself. Beyond both Xavier and Magneto. Where once Xavier himself was trapped within its chamber-like armor, Onslaught now holds captive young Franklin Richards, who pleads with him to let him go home. You are home, Onslaught tells the frightened child.

Suddenly, he becomes aware of Cable and Apocalypse and scoffs that they truly must be desperate to be working together. Cable immediately mocks him, asking who’s the desperate one. After all, Onslaught twice sent lackeys to get rid of him. What’s he afraid of? Nothing, Onslaught boasts, creating psionic projections of Post, the Hulk and Magneto himself.

As the two enemies stand back to back, Cable asks Apocalypse if he is willing to give his all. Risk death if need be. That’s the code he has lived by for two thousand years, En Sabah Nur reminds him. Then fight on, “Eternal One”, Cable exclaims, as he faces the “Hulk,” if for no other reason than that their day to be tested against each other still awaits them. One I am looking forward to with eager anticipation, “Chosen One”, Apocalypse retorts.

While Cable tackles the “Hulk,” Apocalypse has a different goal altogether: He comes closer to Franklin, intent not on saving the boy but killing him. He orders the boy to close his eyes and the same moment Cable cries out: Richards! Make your move! Now! Apocalypse finds he cannot move. The reason becomes clearer as, a moment later, the Invisible Woman materializes, whom Cable had kept telepathically hidden all along. Apocalypse wildly struggles, even telling Cable that surely he’d understand the loss of one soldier is acceptable. He cannot allow a moment of weakness such as the caring about an insignificant child stop them. Yes he can, Cable announces trying to throttle Apocalypse. Even if it means killing him here and now!

Onslaught telepathically asks Franklin if he now sees why he allowed this to occur. What better illustration of the true nature of all humans? They always betray each other and Franklin will help him change that!

Franklin protests; not everybody is like that. He begs his mother to help him. Sue tries to reach him but finds Onslaught mentally holds her at bay. As they are all sent away from the Astral Plane, Sue promises him they’ll find a way to save him. Then they are gone. And Apocalypse rages. Do they have any idea what their duplicitous display cost them, he demands. It cost him a chance to do to Franklin what he did to him, Cable snaps back. There’s still hope. The way he sees it, they won. Did they really? Apocalypse mocks, as he phases out… words that haunt Susan Richards. Crying, she tells Cable that being that close to Franklin, seeing his helpless face, somehow makes it worse. Cable promises her that they will save her son and stop Onslaught.

Above the streets, Apocalypse ponders how long until his namesake – the end of the world – becomes a reality. You must respect them, the Watcher suddenly addresses him, for despite their sacrifice they were unwilling to become like him and allow the end to justify the means. He saw only weakness at a time when strength was needed, Apocalypse scoffs. That he will never respect. They will see who is left to revel in their vaunted nobility, when Onslaught destroys it all…

Inside Onslaught’s citadel, the creature who would reconstruct the universe rethinks the day’s events… curious as to why these … humans resist their benevolent god. Unaware that, within the child who he had forced into collusion, something has changed. Inspired by the selfless act of his mother and the man called Cable, Franklin has a renewed spark in his soul that will make a difference from this point on. He has hope.

Characters Involved: 


The Invisible Woman

The Watcher



Franklin Richards

Onslaught’s psionic projections:

Hulk, Magneto, Post

Story Notes: 

This is part of Onslaught phase 2

Cable lost his son Tyler in Wolverine (2nd series) #100.

Xavier was freed of Onslaught in Uncanny X-Men #336 by Thor.

Apocalypse infected Cable as an infant in X-Factor (1st Series) #68, but hardly “at birth.”

The real Hulk under the influence of Onslaught almost killed Cable last issue.

Onslaught has twice sent lackeys - Post and the Hulk - to attack Cable in Cable (1st series) #33-34.

The saga of Onslaught is continued in X-Man #19 & X-Men (2nd Series) #55 and concluded in Onslaught: Marvel Universe.

Issue Information: 

This Issue has been reprinted in:

Written By: