Cable (1st series) #44

Issue Date: 
June 1997
Story Title: 
Temptation In The Wilderness

James Robinson (writer), Randy Green & Allen Im (pencils), Scott Hanna & Scott Koblish (inks), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters), Mike Thomas (colors), Mark Powers (editor), Bob Harras (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

At the Xavier Institute, Jean and Cyclops find Cable’s body frozen in his meditative form. Jean telepathically tries to enter Nathan’s mind, fearing he’ll die if he doesn’t snap out of it soon, but that is easier said than done. Meanwhile, Cable finds himself trapped on the Astral Plane, thanks to none other than his mother… Madelyne Pryor! Madelyne wants to show Nathan what her life has been up to this point, and the little time they had together. Traveling through the Astral Plane, from Alaska to Nebraska, Madelyne shows Nathan the lab where she was “born,” created by the hands of the madman Mr. Sinister and his past to Nathan. Madelyne wants to pay the world, and her ex-husband Scott Summers, back for having hurt her. She also calls the X-Men and mutants in general evil and wants to kill them all. This upsets Nathan, who mentions he’s a mutant himself. He shows Madelyne Apocalypse’s fortress, indicating that this building is where true evil houses. He calls the X-Men’s intentions noble and will never join her. When Madelyne asks Cable if that means he doesn’t feel anything for her, he explains that he knows Madelyne was most happy in Alaska, where piece and quiet ruled. He saw a cabin there which will act as a neutral place, where they’ll meet again if needed. Nathan feels Jean almost breaking through his mind and warns Madelyne she should go. Mother and son take farewell from another, and Nathan wakes up back on the real world, where he is welcomed back and thanks Scott and Jean for friendship. Elsewhere on the Swiss Alps, a deal is made between Ch’vayre and Sebastian Shaw, who agree to work together to rule both the future and the past.

Full Summary: 

Young Nathan Dayspring lies in bed. Somebody tells him to wake up, and that she’s there for him. While this is being said, Cable’s techno-organic arm begins to lose control. Suddennly, Nathan opens his eyes and, with a soft voice, calls out to “Redd,” as he can see a red-headed woman in front of him. However, before the woman can answer, her image turns into that of Jean Grey-Summers. Nathan can hear her warn Scott that something is wrong and that he won’t snap out of it. Nathan calls out to Jean, but the image of the red-headed woman changes once again.

Reality turns back to normal, and Cable finds himself trapped in a cage, in a castle-like dungeon, and in front of him stands another red-headed woman. The woman corrects Nathan that she isn’t Jean Grey, though she’s sorry to having to admit it. For perhaps if she was, she’d be better assured of her welcome, and Nathan welcoming her means so much to her. Nathan doesn’t know whom he’s dealing with. The woman introduces herself as Madelyne Pryor, and asks Cable if that name means anything to him.

Nathan is shocked, because he thought Madelyne died. To this, Madelyne jokes that in their world that can be, at least, temporary. She’s back, and with another name. She gently takes Nathan’s hand, claiming that it’s a name only he can call her. When Nathan asks if it’s mother, Madelyne smiles to her son it’s good to see him again. For the first time. Unfortunately, Nathan can’t say it’s good to see her. He wants to know why they are there, and where they are in the first place. Madelyne asks Nathan what the first thing is he can remember. Nathan recalls he was at the Xavier Institute, meditating…


Scott and Jean find Nathan’s body hovering upside down, indicating that he’s mediating. Jean has been calling him for a while but Nathan won’t wake up, and she’s a bit worried. Scott points out how Nathan’s body is frozen in place, like it’s in some kind of telekinetic stasis. Jean hoped they would get there in time and warn Nathan that somehow, his biological mother is still alive, but now she thinks they may be too late. Scott still can’t believe Madelyne is still alive.

Jean reminds him that Madelyne is a psionic ghost created by X-Man, though she doesn’t know how that can qualify as “living.” Scott thinks that it would be Jean who would tell him in a normal situation. The question is, how do they stop Madelyne? And how do they save Nathan? For the moment, Jean’s not sure about that. She asks Scott to watch Cable, monitor his movements… if any… and hope that there’s a battle being fought in Cable’s head, and that there’s a victory to be won… and that Nathan is winning that battle.

Somewhere else…

Madelyne reveals to Nathan that she went into his mind when he had it open, in the meditative state. And, she warns, she shut the door after her, so no one else can enter and interrupt their reunion. They’re on the Astral Plane now. When Cable replies that he doesn’t know where that is, Madelyne explains it’s the realm of pure thought that can link every mind on Earth, and is acceptable to telepaths like themselves. She jokes that, if they wait long enough, they’ll probably see Dr. Strange fly by. They’re in the same Astral place the doctor likes to hang out so much. And., with the plane, they can jump from location to location, site to site.

When Nathan then asks “why,” Madelyne replies she wants to show Nathan her life. She wants to show him their life, or what little they had of it together. She wants to start at the place where it all began. The settings of the rooms change, and Cable and Madelyne find themselves in Mr. Sinister’s laboratory on the outskirts of London. There, a man named Nathaniel Essex tampered with the very laws of nature. When Nathan, now freed from his cage, asks if they’re alone, Madelyne remarks she’s certain Sinister would rather die than return to this place of heartbreak. And Nathan doesn’t need to worry, she claims… this place has been deserted for over a century.

However, a moment later, a monstrous bodyguard left behind by Sinister jumps down. Madelyne smirks she forgot to mention him, and reveals the guard is one of Sinister’s failed experiments in genetics. She asks Nathan what he’s waiting for. Isn’t he going to protect his mother? Taking out a blade from his utility belt, Cable jumps at the guard and they start to fight each other. When Cable is about to cut the monster’s throat, it… vanishes?

When Cable announces that he knew there was never really something to fight, Madelyne asks when he realized it. Cable answers that it was before he drew the knife on the guard’s throat, because he had scanned his mind, which he didn’t have, meaning Madelyne tricked him. Madelyne corrects she simply tested him. She wanted to know how far he would go for her, and if he cared enough to fight for her. Cable, a bit angry, compliments that Madelyne now does know and mocks she could have just asked him. He remarks he’s sick of the lab and wants to leave. Madelyne agrees, and she suggests they take a walk.

They walk outside Sinister’s lab, where they arrive in a graveyard. Nathan recalls tha,t earlier, Madelyne said that the lab was where everything began. But he doesn’t know what she meant. Is it where he started, or her? Madelyne claims they both did, in a way. It was in that shadowy edifice that a brilliant geneticist became the madman known as Sinister. This is where Essex worked in despair. Where his theories about evolution were mocked, reviled by the scientific community he so wanted to impress. She asks if it’s any wonder Essex fell under the influence of the immortal Apocalypse, who gave him the knowledge and power to transform himself. That’s how Essex became Mister Sinister. One can only guess at why Sinister would choose such a puerile moniker but, in 1869 when he coined it, she’s sure it seemed the height of cutting edge. Sinister’s science certainly was.

It was in that dark lab when Sinister first took his faltering step, on the twisted path that led to him creating the both of them .Nathan asks again if it really was a place of heartbreak. Madelyne reveals Sinister’s research had cost him his wife and unborn child. It seems that all advancement comes at a cost. They can relate when they look at what it cost them. And they were but pawns in a game. Nathan asks “how so.” Madelyne further says Sinister, obsessed with the Summers bloodline and its genetic potential, endeavored to create his ultimate example of Homo superior. The weapon he could use to annihilate the master he could no longer abide to. The supreme mutant… Cable himself.

Sinister was patient. He waited. He selected the pieces of his puzzle over a century’s time. Then came Scott Summers and Jean Grey. But when Jean Grey had seemingly perished, Sinister had to settle for a clone to breed with Summers. Madelye became the result of that… human, and yet a ghost of humanity. Sinister gave her false memories, made her believe in the lie that she actually was Madelyne Pryor. He made her meet Scott. She and Scott fell in love, and then Nathan was born.

Essex’ aim was to create a being who could destroy the millennia-old mutant known as Apocalypse. And Madelyne guesses that is Nathan’s mission in the present time. Cable bitterly replies that his mission is his business and his business alone. Madelyne’s point is that, at least, Nathan was conceived for a purpose, while she was merely the chattel. A piece of Sinister’s scheme, but not the glorious end result of anything. She asks Cable if she realizes he shares a similar first name with Sinister. He may have even planted the suggestion in her mind to call him as a twisted tribute to himself.

So even there, the naming of her son, Madelyne was doing because of Sinister’s bidding. But if they were united again, mother and son, then she feels her life would have meaning. She would be in control of her destiny, and she would share that destiny with the only one in all the world who could possibly understand. She needs that, and asks Nathan if he can help her. Cable admits it’s a sad story. He won’t deny that. But a lot of people have bad beginnings. His own was no children’s happy storytale. He can’t feel pity for her, not after all the pain she has caused. Madelyne angrily tells Cable perhaps he should try harder!

Outside, in the physical world…

Jean touches Nathan’s brow and panics when she feels how cold he has suddenly gotten. She wonders what that could be a sign of.

At the Astral Plane…

Madelyne and Nathan stand on a hill in a snowy landscape. Nathan still wears his uniform while Madelyne’s clothes have changed from a glamorous, half-open black dress to a full bodied black dress with gloves and shoulder plates. Madelyne explains to Nathan that this is the place where she was happiest. She thinks in their world, being happy equals being normal, and she lived here at the time she thought she was. When she met Scott and entered his life, one where he and his beloved X-Men would routinely risk their lives for this hateful planet, she was terrified. She tried not to show it, but with each crazy event, she wanted to run away screaming.

But she loved him so, Nathan’s father. She was brave for him. When she and Scott married… it was the happiest day. And then they had Nathan. Her son! She and Scott were a couple and a baby makes three, there in Alaska, away from the madness. Nathan stares in front of him and remarks how quiet it is there. Madelyne asks Nathan if he likes that, the quiet. Nathan replies that he has never known it.

He then asks what brought Madelyne back to the world she had fled. “Your father,” Madelyne replies. Scott returned to his kind when they needed him. He betrayed her, and her love for him. Nathan asks if it wasn’t duty. If it wasn’t something Scott had to do. Madelyne thinks perhaps it was. Perhaps Scott did return to the madness out of duty. But, in doing so, he made a choice. He chose the X-Men… and Jean Grey… over her. She wants to go. This place makes her content, but now she’s sad. She waves her hand and a glow appears, to which both she and Nathan step through. He wants to know where they’re going next. Madelyne reveals they’re going from one place that’s all peace and quiet… to a place that never is.

Cable and Madelyne soon find themselves in New York, on top of the Empire State Building. Nathan promptly remarks that he hates this city. Madelyne does too, but asks why he does. Nathan explains that he enjoys reading the sacred texts that were lost in the future he returned from. The Koran, Buddhist scriptures… and of course, he enjoyed reading the Bible. He mentions the Bible describes the Tower of Babel, when God decided that the world should have many languages. It was in that Tower that everyone began speaking differently. No one understood anyone else. There was confusion and fear. That is how Nathan regards New York, where no one takes the time to listen and understand.

Madelyne’s reason for despising this city is far more simple. She died here. This is where Jean Grey killed her. Cable remarks Madelyne she was trying to turn Manhattan into Hell on Earth at the time by sacrificing him. And from what Nathan was being told, Madelyne brought upon her own destruction and that Jean was desperately trying to rescue her. Madelyne claims that’s what they really would tell him but not what really happened. She claims she was struck down by the X-Men’s treachery. She wonders why Nathan can’t see how evil the X-Men are. They claim to want piece and to end persecution for their own mutantkind. She asks Nathan if he doesn’t see the madness in the X-Men’s world. All the innocents who die by the roadside in their endeavors. She thinks their evil is a subtle one, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be stopped.

To this, Cable grows irate. He repeats that he said it before and will say it again: Madelyne has no idea. Without warning, he pushes Madelyne off the building!


Jean feels Cable’s temperature returning back to normal. She thinks that whatever he was facing within his mind must have passed. Scott thinks so too. But, he wonders, what about the dangers Nathan has yet to face? He’s certain this can’t be the end. They have to bring Cable out of his telepathic trance. Jean agrees. Unfortunately, in this instance, “they” can’t. Only she can do this. She’s going to try opening the locked portal to Cable’s subconscious. She knows she has failed before, and she’s held off for fear that further attempts might damage Nathan’s mind. But now she fears his mind could be damaged already by whatever it is he’s going through. So this time, for better or worse, Jean is determined to reach Nathan. She telekinetically flies up, and then telepathically tries to enter Nathan’s mind.

The astral plane…

Cable and Madelyne have landed in the Akkaba desert, right in front of the fortress of Apocalypse! Cable calls this place true evil. He tells Madelyne she talks of the X-Men’s noble efforts as if they were some insidious thing, but this place, the work of an immortal man, is far more vial. Though he has gone from here, the building still reeks of Apocalypse’s dark soul. He is the one Cable has sworn to defeat. Perhaps not in the manner Madelyne might think, but it’s still a task that requires all Nathan’s attention. That is his quest… his goal.

And, he tells Madelyne… she does not even exist. She is all the misery and misfortune that the real Madelyne endured, given a semblance of life, all the things that keep Madelyne’s soul from being at rest. And Nathan can never be hers. Madelyne gently touches him, saying that together they could destroy all of mutantkind, everything that wasn’t normal and safe, everything that made Scott leave her. They could destroy them all… the X-Men, Sinister… even Apocalypse.

Madelyne recalls Cable said he has sworn to defeat Apocalypse, but he’s been there from the future for years. Why hasn’t he killed Apocalypse yet? What has stopped him all this time? As Nathan stares in silence, Madelyne continues that, if they stood together, there would be nothing that could stop him. And they could rise from the destruction to rule, the two of them, mother and son. Two outsiders who will never belong on this planet.

Nathan remarks that Madelyne calls mutants evil, but she is forgetting one thing: he is a mutant. And, although in another lifetime, Madelyne was his mother by blood, he can never see her in that light. There is another person he remembers from his earliest recollections, one whose example showed him that identity is determined by action, and not birthright. Madelyne begs Nathan not to say it. Nathan sees his mother as the one person Madelyne hates above all. Jean Grey.

Madelyne looks behind her and can see a large image of Jean on a computer screen. When she asks if this is Nathan’s doing, Cable denies it, but thinks it’s the reason he was suddenly able to transport them here. Because Madelyne’s power is weakening and Jean is breaking through. Madelyne begs Nathan one final time to come with her, but he promises he never will. When Madelyne asks if that means Nathan feels nothing for her, he thinks quietly for a moment. “Alaska,” he finally answers. It’s where Madelyne knew happiness and he found a moment of piece there. From the mountain top they stood on together, Nathan spotted a cabin. That shall be their neutral territory. Their place to meet, if they ever need to.

Madelyne supposes that’s something. But, she also tells Nathan, he knows that he’s wrong about her. She is real and will prove it. “Maybe,” Cable says, but if she threatens innocent lives, including the X-Men, she has to know he’ll fight her as hard as any enemy. He warns that Jean will be breaking through soon and that she should leave. Madelyne agrees. She steps away from Nathan and says farewell to her son.

Nathan stares at her and, a few seconds later, finds himself back on the real world. Scott is thrilled and excited that Jean did it. Nathan lands back on his feet and Jean and Scott help him up. Jean asks Nathan if he’s all right. Nathan’s a little dazed but otherwise intact. When Scott asks if it was Madelyne, Cable explains it was a part of her, a revenant that has to find piece. Scott wonders if there is anything that can be done for her, to which Nathan replies only what they do for each other. A hand offered in friendship, or a strong set of shoulders to lean on. Ultimately, they may never fully understand Madelyne’s “birthright,” they can only hope that eventually, she’ll be at rest.

Epilogue… at a castle in the Swiss Alps…

Ch’vayre stands in a dark room, where he mopes he has been doing it all wrong. He walks outside where he watches his students train, and thinks about how plans have changed. He goes back to the communication center at the castle, where Ch’vayre contacts none other than… Sebastian Shaw!

Ch’vayre mentions it’s urgent he talk to Shaw but Shaw replies that he isn’t interested in talking to strangers. He wants to know how his communicators got access to his line first and perhaps he’ll listen to him before having Ch’vayre destroyed. Ch’vayre just says his name isn’t important to Shaw, but does reveal he’s from an era yet to be born. That technology allowed him access to the equipment at the Hellfire Club, though electronically.

Shaw wonders aloud what Ch’vayre could know about the Hellfire Club, to which Ch’vayre replies that he knows Shaw is the leader of a cabal within the organization, and is its Black King. He knows of Shaw’s ongoing pursuit of wealth and power. And he is aware those goals have often put Shaw at odds with the X-Men. Shaw warns Ch’vayre that, if he interferes with the Hellfire Club’s plans, it will result in his death.

Ch’vayre claims he only wishes to further empower Shaw. With his knowledge of future events, and with the technological wonders he can offer, the Hellfire Club can rise from the shadows and rule the present, its flame blazing brightly. When Shaw asks what he will get from this, Ch’vayre says that Shaw will have the present… but he will have the future.

Characters Involved: 


Madelyne Pryor

Cyclops, Jean Grey (both X-Men)


Sebastian Shaw (all Hellfire Club)

as an illusion:

one of Sinister’s guards (unnamed)

In Cable’s memories:

Cable (as a child)

Jean Grey


Story Notes: 

Nate Grey created the current psionic ghost form of Madelyne Pryor in X-Man #5.

Essex’s transformation to into Sinister occurred in the limited series The Further Adventures of Cyclops & Phoenix.

Chronologically, Cable’s next adventure is told in Cable #minus 1.

Issue Information: 
Written By: