Cable (1st series) #36

Issue Date: 
October 1996
Story Title: 
The Gift

Jeph Loeb (writer), Bernard Chang (pencils), Scott Hanna (inks), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters), Mike Thomas (colors), Graphic Colorworks (enhancement), Mark Powers (editor), Bob Harras (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

After his battles against Post, the Hulk and Onslaught, Cable’s techno-organic virus has gotten out of control and is running amok over his entire body. With only minutes left to live, Cable’s body is brought to the half destroyed Baxter Building, where is being treated by Dr. Nathaniel Richards. The “operation” is being watched over by Cable’s closest friends: Domino, Storm, Cannonball, Caliban and Franklin Richards, the boy whose life he saved from the Onslaught menace. However, when Dr. Richards soon runs out of options and fears he can’t do anything to help his patient, Storm and Cannonball each talk to Cable, hoping that with hearing their voices Cable will recover. While hearing them, the unconscious Cable thinks he’s actually talking to his deceased wife and son, Aliya and Tyler. He sees Tyler standing on the hill of Kentucky where he buried him. As they have a talk and patch things up, Tyler tells Cable to keep on fighting so they’ll always have a tomorrow. Cable next travels to the Ebonshire forest, a place in the future where he first encountered the teachings of the Askani, and where he first met Jenskot. They too share a talk, and Aliya promises Nathan she and Tyler will never leave his heart. Aliya also wants Cable to open up his heart to those who want to help him, like he once did with her. Tyler and Aliya meet up with each other and disappear into a bright light. These talks are enough to give Cable the strength he needed to survive, and the techno-virus retreats from his body and Nathan returns back to normal. He wakes up, and thanks his friends and Franklin for all their help.

Full Summary: 

The aftermath of war.

Sometimes it is more difficult than the struggle itself. The being called Onslaught – who was forged in the heartbreak and frustration of a peaceful man named Charles Xavier – brought all of mankind to the brink of total destruction. In the end, Onslaught was defeated… but at what price?

At the remains of the Baxter Building, some of the remaining fighters are trying to save Cable’s very life. Among their number, Nathaniel Richards fears Cable is dying. Franklin tells his grandfather that Cable is the man who helped him, and now they’ve got to save him. Cable lies on an operating table, with his techno-organic virus completely out of control and covering almost his entire body. And… he speaks in the Askani language, something the others of course can’t understand. Franklin asks Nathaniel if he can do it, and if he can find a way to fix Cable. Nathaniel promises to make every effort he can. But even with his scientific expertise, he has never seen anything like this. He wants Franklin to understand that he’ll do whatever he can, but the techno-virus which ravages Cable’s bloodstream is so severe.

Nearby, Cannonball mentions he has seen Cable pull through tougher scrapes than this. A worried Domino agrees with Sam, and is certain Cable will be up and running in no time. Caliban wonders what they’ll do if “Cable-Nathan” dies. Storm thinks they better pray to whatever gods they all may know, to see that won’t happen.

Nathaniel tells Franklin they’ve lost everything. Ben. Johnny. And his mother, Sue. And Nathaniel lost his own son, Reed. They now live in a world without Reed Richards and the Fantastic Four. They have to think about the future. Franklin tells his grandpa he doesn’t have to worry about his mom and dad. Or about his uncle Johnny and Ben. He just needs to worry about fixing Cable now. Nathaniel mocks in himself that children have never been his strong point.

Looking on, Storm thinks to herself it’s curious Franklin has transferred so much of his anxiety over the loss of his family to Cable’s well-being, a man he hardly knows. She hopes they don’t shatter the faith the boy is showing in them now. She looks at Cable and thinks about how much Cable has given of himself to so many people. She wonders if Cable truly knows how many of them would give anything for his recovering. Cable continues to speak in the Askani language and, without warning, something seems to freak him out!

The tongue Cable speaks in won’t be invented for some two thousand years, for that is the future in which he was raised. The sisterhood whose language he speaks is called the Askani, loosely translated, it means “outsider.” No term could be more appropriate for a man who is also a mutant, that rare human with strange and often frightening powers, at a time when now, more than ever, that difference is responsible for an increasingly widening schism between those so gifted and those who are not.

Caliban tries to calm Cable down, but in return Cable punches Caliban into his face, knocking him off the building! Acting quickly, Sam flies after his teammate and grabs him by the arm. Caliban wonders why Cable hit him, as it wasn’t him who made him sick. Sam tries to explain Cable didn’t mean to do that. It’s the techno-virus that is having Cable do things he normally wouldn’t. Caliban admits he never saw Cable like this before and wants to know if Nathan will ever be his friend again. Sam Guthrie does not have a quick response. And in his silence, he has told Caliban more than he could ever say.

As they land back inside the building, an impatient Nathaniel asks Domino if she can’t stabilize Cable, as he won’t accomplish anything with him tearing about like this. Domino tries to talk to Cable and tells him he isn’t helping. Storm explains to Dr. Richards that the techno-organic virus that ravages Cable was given to him as an infant. As far as they know, the virus’ origins are both ancient and alien. Cable has always been able to use his telekinesis to keep the virus at bay but, recently, that ability was compromised. They are at as much of a loss as he is as to how to proceed.

Cannonball disagrees. He explains his dad was sick for a long time before he died. And they didn’t have much in the way of doctoring. But that didn’t mean they didn’t try. Sam tries to talk to Cable as well. He knows Cable is kind of under it right now, but he wants Nathan to listen to his voice. Franklin thinks to himself that he can help Sam with that. He can help Cable listen. Sam recalls Cable always taught him – all of them – that when it gets the darkest, that’s when you’ve got to fight the hardest to find the light.

Whether it is the soothing tone of Sam’s simple voice, or something else, Cable’s body starts to relax, as his mind begins to drift. Sam tells Cable he told them about the promise for a better tomorrow. That’s why the fight he fights is the good fight. Cable sees someone standing before him but, instead of Sam, he thinks it’s… Tyler and speaks out his son’s name. Sam notices and is surprised Cable thinks he’s talking to his adopted son, even though they just got through burying him a little while ago. Cable speaks out the word “tomorrow.” Franklin still silently believes that he can help Cable, just like his uncle Ben would want him to.

Suddenly, in a place outside here and now…

Cable sees a white light and wonders where he is. He is surprised to find out that his body somehow healed itself and wonders what’s happening to him. He arrives on a hill, where he sees a tree at the end of it. He also sees a person, and asks him what this place is. The person reminds Cable he knows this lush hillside. It was Cable’s final gift to the person. It’s a hillside near the Guthrie farm in Kentucky. Even in the end, despite the life the person led, he is glad Cable saw to it he could rest… peacefully. The person turns around and is revealed to be… Tyler?! Cable’s body glows intensely, and wonders how he could be seeing Tyler right now, as he wasn’t able to save him and never did what he promised Tyler’s mother he’d do.

Nathan told Jenskot he’d look after Tyler. And… he failed. Tyler asks his dad what it is he used to say to him? “Always quick to take the blame, and none of the credit.” Tyler wants his dad to understand he didn’t fail him. It’s true that his path was twisted by Stryfe, but no more so than what Apocalypse did to Nathan by infecting him with the very disease that is killing him right now. If anything, Tyler concludes, he failed himself. Cable defends Tyler was just a boy when all that happened and can’t be held to the standard… Tyler interrupts Nathan, asking Cable if that’s what he set for himself. It’s not only that, Nathan mentions. Maybe he did more. He thinks if, maybe he found Stryfe sooner and killed him, he could have changed things. Tyler corrects Cable that he also could have made things worse. Time holds too many possibilities. He thinks it’s madness to try and re-live the past. They must accept it and move on. He asks Cable who knows the following phrase better than Cable does: “what is… is.”

Tyler explains when he took the name “Genesis” he thought it would mean a time to start over. To begin anew. Here on this hill, where Cable laid him to rest, the sun comes up each day and shines on this place. Tyler now realizes that’s what he forgot along the way… what Cable always wanted to teach him but what he wouldn’t listen to. There is always tomorrow if you have hope and you’re willing to fight for it. Tyler says he took a short cut to achieve his dreams… he failed to confront the pain of his life head-on. It cost him terribly. Cable notices how at peace Tyler seems to be right now. Tyler smiles he is, and always will be with Nathan. But there is something Nathan can do for him. To make up for all the horrors they’ve been through. “Anything,” Cable smiles, as Tyler places his hands on his shoulders. “Let go of regret,” Tyler concludes. Nathan has to keep on fighting as he has. He has to fulfill his destiny as he sees fit.

And then, in the real world…

Sam tells Dr. Richards that, if he’s going to do something, he better does it now. Nathaniel believes Cable is in some sort of coma stasis. If he can revive Cable’s heart, he may be able to save him, but there is so little time. Nathaniel reaches his hand through Cable’s metal chest, and the psionic feedback he receives is blistering. Domino panics and calls out to Storm, but Ororo wants her to have faith. Domino knows she has to have that, but wonders if it will be enough.

In the back of the room, Caliban asks Franklin if he’s as scared like he is. Franklin tries to cheer up Caliban by saying he doesn’t have to be afraid. If you have hope, the good guys always win. Sam overhears that and tells Franklin he wishes that was true. But with Xavier’s fall, and now Cable’s, he wonders what’s going to happen to the rest of the people who followed them.

Nathaniel warns everyone to brace themselves. He thinks the virus must have reached Cable’s cerebral cortex, as Cable’s telekinesis is now going out of control! All of the equipment in the room starts moving around real fast. As the entire lab is hit suddenly with a telekinetic jolt, Storm thinks that, even with her control over the elements, there is little she can do to stop it. In trying to save Cable, she fears they may have doomed themselves. Domino approaches Richards, realizing this may not be the best time to ask her following question, but she asks Richards if he’s got even the slightest idea of what he’s doing?! She thinks maybe they should be finding Cable’s little mentor, Blaquesmith, or Nate Grey, or at least somebody else who knows Cable’s physiology better than they do. Nathaniel sarcastically asks Domino if she’s always this much of a nuisance.

Storm reminds Domino that Cable is dying! Their last, best and only hope is to let Dr. Richards do what he can. Nathaniel pulls his hand out of Cable’s chest, saying that, in that case, he is sorry. “What?!” Domino shouts. “No,” a disappointed Cannonball follows. Caliban doesn’t understand, and likewise Franklin asks his grandpa what he’s saying. Nathaniel explains Cable’s virus has completely enveloped his brain. He has hours, maybe even minutes, left to live. He suggests if Cable has any family he should be with, he should be brought to them. Quickly.

Storm agrees Cable has a family: it’s those who are in this room. And she finds this unacceptable. She walks over to Cable and Cannonball asks Ororo what she’s doing. They should be getting Cable back to Scott and Jean. “No!” Ororo shouts. There is always another way. It’s one of the founding principles of the X-Men. As she gently touches Cable’s metal hand, she tells Nathan she believes in him. She believes that, if he sets his mind to it, he can do anything. As tears come to his eyes, Franklin thinks to himself he believes in Cable as well. And, he recalls, there are things he can do with his mind as well, just like Cable.

Another time, another place…

The forest of Ebonshire. A legendary place, even for the time in the far-flung future that is little more than a memory for Cable. It is here that young Dayspring first encountered the teachings of the Askani, and began down the arduous road of being “the Chosen One.” Another seminal moment occurred in this place. It was here when he met his first and, some would say, his one true love. The novitiate known as Aliya. She who would someday become his wife, and who would tragically die to preserve the freedom they desperately sought together.

Cable, still glowing, is surprised when he sees Aliya again in this forest, and that she even greets him. Aliya gently touches him, telling Nathan he has to get his body, mind and spirit as one. She explains the path he travels is long and hard, but there will come a day when the very world will reap its rewards tenfold. She claims there is still so much ahead of him. Nathan realizes he has to go back. Even though, somehow, someway they’re together again. He has to fulfill his all-consuming destiny. Aliya smiles and tells Cable he always saw the world as something that he had to take on alone, a burden only the Askani’Son, with his terrible purpose, could carry. But there are others who would share his tasks and trials. Cable only needs to let them, as he once did with her.

Nathan says he could only tell Aliya this… what he asks of her… it is too painful. When he has opened his heart, he lost the people he cared for the most. Namely, Tyler, and herself. Aliya moves closer to Nathan’s face, promising he never lost her. She reminds him they made a promise. She says something in the Askani language, which, translated, means “forever.” “But… I am the first,” Aliya concludes. She and Tyler meet each other and hold their hands. Aliya wants Cable to always remember what his name means. “Dayspring”… “a hope for a better tomorrow.” She wants him to take that hope and know that she and Tyler will always be in his heart. She wants Nathan to let his heart swell with his memory, so that he can move on and find an even brighter path. “G’journey, Nathan Dayspring,” Aliya finishes as she and Tyler disappear into a bright light.

“G’journey,” Cable wishes them both as well. And suddenly, slowly, something miraculous occurs on the real world.

Cable’s eye sparks with life again, and he says “forever.” Storm is thrilled and Sam is overjoyed Cable is coming out of it. Caliban smiles he knew Cable wouldn’t die. Nathaniel is shocked, saying it is scientifically impossible. Moments ago, Cable was near death! And now, the techno-virus is retreating? Domino smiles to Dr. Richards to tell that to Cable. Franklin tells his grandpa he’s sure Cable will be all right.

For several weeks now, the techno-virus that has poisoned Cable since infancy had slowly encroached throughout his body, seemingly unstoppable, until, at last, he could no longer stem its tide. There would be no one to save him, save for the man himself. Cable gets up, and proudly declares, “I’m back!” as his techno-virus returns back to normal. And in his voice, they all notice a new timber, a strength they all thought was lost, but is now rejuvenated… tenfold!

Sam is unsure how to react. He asks Cable if he always had a way to stop the virus, why didn’t he stop it before it got all of control? Cable answers he doesn’t know. He thinks maybe because of the nature of the interference on the psionic plane caused by both Nate Grey and Onslaught. Maybe Onslaught himself was keeping him from his best. But, Nathan says as he approaches Franklin, maybe it was with a little help from his friends. He asks Franklin if he’s his friend. “Forever and ever, Mister Cable,” Franklin smiles. Cable quietly looks at Franklin, thinking that maybe, it was because part of his heart that had been closed off for so long… is now open again?

Characters Involved: 


Caliban, Domino (both X-Force)

Cannonball, Storm (both X-Men)

Franklin Richards

Nathaniel Richards

In the afterlife:

Tyler Dayspring (Cable’s son)

In Cable’s memories:

Jenskot (Cable’s wife)

Story Notes: 

Cable rescued Franklin Richards last issue.

More about the Ebonshire forest can be found in Askani’Son #4. Aliya died in Cable (1st series) #1.

“Forever,” is the word Cable and Jenskot chose on their wedding vows as told in Cable (1st series) #25.

Issue Information: 
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