Cable (1st series) #51

Issue Date: 
February 1998
Story Title: 
The Hellfire Hunt part 4 - Faith and Deception

Joe Casey (story), Ladronn (penciler), Juan Vlasco & Bud LaRosa (inkers), Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Saida Temofonte (letters), Gloria Vasquez (colors), Mark Powers (editor), Bob Harras (chief) with special thanks to James Robinson

Brief Description: 

Cable and Irene follow Sebastian Shaw and Donald Pierce to Switzerland, as the two villains are on the trail of Apocalypse. When they arrive, they are attacked by Hellfire Club soldiers that Shaw left behind in case he showed up. Cable manages to fight them off, but they escape only with a helping hand from a man named Wilhelm, one of Cable’s believers. He takes them to his impressive castle where, despite his having assisted them, Cable and Irene still feel he is hiding something back from them. Cable decides, against Irene’s better wishes, to read his mind on order to discover the truth. In doing so, he discovers Wilhelm is a former Nazi super soldier who went by the name of Master Man! Meanwhile, Ch’vayre sees the full extent of Shaw and Pierce’s military force, as they prepare to search for Apocalypse.

Full Summary: 

(London, Harry Manners’ mansion)

The rain is pouring in England’s capital city, but then Irene Merryweather isn’t there to sightsee. She watches as Cable operates a bank of hi-tech computer-controlled scanning equipment and realizes that there is still a lot she doesn’t know about the man.

She hasn’t really had time to think about just how out of her depth she is. Nathan informs her that the Hellfire Club’s machine worked. They tracked Apocalypse almost to his lair, and he needs to follow them immediately… to Switzerland. He can’t believe that Shaw and Pierce believe they can harness Apocalypse’s power. Their conceit could cost the lives of millions over the coming years. Irene insists that she go with him and, despite his reticence, Irene makes a persuasive argument. He accepts that she can accompany him, but warns her to be careful. Things could get a little hairy.

(Switzerland, later)

Nathan’s warning couldn’t have been more precise. Once in Switzerland, they are attacked by a squadron of Hellfire Club soldiers riding small flying crafts with heavy weaponry. Cable deposits Irene in a safer place and heads back into action. Along with his years of battle experience, he utilizes his agility, strength and powers to work his way through a horde of soldiers as one by one they fall around him. Irene compares him to a fighting machine; a man in his element. The more violence and chaos that seems to envelop him, the calmer he seems to become. The soldiers keep coming, but despite the many distractions, Cable still keeps one eye on Irene.

A soldier approaches her, firing of dozens of rounds and destroying the staircase where she hides. As adrenalin courses through her body, Irene recalls how she came to be here.


Just days ago, she initiated a tabloid investigation into the social life of Sebastian Shaw, but stumbled upon secrets far more sinister than mistresses or vice. She learned how far he would go to protect those secrets when her colleagues at the Inquiring Eye were murdered. Cable saved her life and she began chronicling his story. They headed to London, where Shaw unleashed a monstrosity created by Apocalypse, whose sole purpose is to bring about the end of everything. Fortunately, Cable intervened, but he didn’t tell Irene exactly what happened when they fought.


Cable takes out Irene’s assailant with his knees, and takes her by the hand. He leads her through the streets as gunfire follows them between buildings. As they duck through an archway, Nathan spots something being thrown in the opposite direction. “Incoming!” he cries, and takes Irene back down the alley. The Hellfire Club soldiers behind them don’t stand a chance as the small device explodes, causing a lot of damage which hides Cable and Irene’s escape route.

The thrower of the device approaches Cable, who shielded Irene from the blast. He asks if they are all right. When Nathan asks who he is, the man simply replies that his English is not perfect, but he can assure them that he is there to help them. He introduces himself as Wilhelm, and he recognizes Cable. Nathan asks how he knows who he is. Again, Wilhelm doesn’t answer directly, instead apologizing for the proximity of his ‘diversion,’ but he felt it necessary to ensure their escape. He also believes Cable confirmed his suspicion that he has some sort of defense of his own.

They make a hasty retreat away from town, and they follow the man through the winding streets. As they walk, he explains that, for the past few days, he has noticed a massive amount of men and materials arriving covertly in the village. It’s a military style force that seems intent upon launching nothing less than a blitzkrieg into the far reaches of the Alps. The bulk of the force set out this morning, leaving behind the soldiers who engaged Cable. He guarantees that they will be safe in his home.


Sitting at the foot of the Alps, an impressive castle is their next stop. Irene is impressed with Wilhelm’s home, and he thanks her for the compliment, adding that he acquired the house soon after the war. He found the surroundings a welcome change from the scarred battlefields of Europe. As he pours a hot drink, he explains that he finds that living there helps him find peace of mine. For those who have experienced war first-hand, finding that peace can be quite a challenge. He is sure Cable can relate to that. Of course, he continues, they both know better than to confuse the search for inner peace with the desire to forget. They must never forget the things they’ve done.

As Irene listens to the old man speak, she feels that there’s something about him. She appreciates the hospitality, but there is definitely something odd in his demeanor. Nathan is thinking the same thing and comments on it telepathically. Irene tries to play it cool, but she isn’t sure what disturbs her most; the fact that Cable is equally suspicious, or that his voice has just invaded her mind.

Wilhelm shows them to their rooms. He suggests that they lay low for a few days until the danger they face passes. Cable replies that maybe they’ll stay a few hours, but it’s imperative that they pick up the trail of this military force. It’s the only chance they have of reaching their destination.

Wilhelm informs them that the Alps can be a punishing environment when night falls, and following them on foot? By sight alone? That is impossible, even for Cable. Wilhelm has something that can help them; equipment that can aid him in tracking their movements and in pinpointing their location. Cable asks him to hold on a second. He thinks Wilhelm is talking to him like he knows him, but he’s certain they have never met. He wants to know who he is and why he wishes to involve himself in this. Wilhelm replies that he is a believer.


Ch’vayre looks out over the beautiful snow-covered mountains as the sun descends into the valleys. He is familiar with this region. Although he wasn’t born there, it’s where he spent his formative years and was given his life’s mission. He has bequeathed his monastery to his few remaining disciples. They have no idea that he has aligned himself with a villain like Shaw, or that they’ll never see him again.

Ch’vayre’s life has been all about engineering the coming confrontation. Cable must be forced to fulfill his destiny and destroy Apocalypse. For Ch’vayre, all the varied pieces of the puzzle that have brought him to Switzerland, across time itself, are about to come together. Still, there is one paradox that he still finds hard to reconcile. It’s the realization that as he stands in the snow on a mountainside in Switzerland, he will not be born for another two millennia.

Sebastian Shaw and Donald Pierce approach him. Pierce asks if he’s admiring the view, or contemplating his supposed future when this conflict has passed, and they emerge victorious. Could he possibly be nervous about that? Ch’vayre warns him to watch his tone when addressing him. Shaw says that as much as he loathes to admit it, Pierce is right. They have the location of Apocalypse’s lair and Ch’vayre now ceases to be an equal partner in this venture. Ch’vayre feels they are wrong. They need him. They don’t know Apocalypse’s technology. When they reach his stronghold, only he can help them take advantage of what they find and use it to destroy him.

Ch’vayre then asks what of the agent they unleashed in London. Shaw reckons he’s formidable, but no longer an issue. Ch’vayre asks if he is so blind as to ignore a sign such as this. Shaw retorts by asking Ch’vayre if he’s forgotten that it was he who contacted him. Surely he had some idea of what might happen. Shaw suddenly becomes a little suspicious. “I wonder…”

Ch’vayre replies that his reasons are his own, and warns that all he’s going to say is that they should be prepared to live with the consequences of setting that creature loose. Pierce thinks Ch’vayre is talking nonsense. He tells him that the consequence will be their dominance over Apocalypse, and then his power shall become theirs. He motions behind him into the valley, and Ch’vayre witnesses hundreds of soldiers, several land-based tanks and numerous aircraft of different shapes and sizes. It’s very impressive.

Ch’vayre asks about Cable. Shaw thinks he is all alone and far from home. They left a welcoming committee for him at the village. He’s probably dead already. Pierce hopes not, as he still wishes Cable to die at his hands. Shaw reminds Pierce that his continuing membership in the Hellfire Club depends on the success of this task. Pierce replies, with more than a little sarcasm, that his confidence in him is inspiring.

Shaw warns Pierce not to test him. He realizes Pierce has a history with Cable, and his ability to withstand the cold climate is a testament to what that history has cost him, but this vendetta that Pierce has makes him careless. He reminds Pierce of his failure in Boston. Pierce says his hatred is his own concern. He reminds Shaw that the Tomorrow Agenda is his operation, and he is in command. Shaw agrees that he is, but then he is the Black King of the Hellfire Club, and Pierce’s reinstatement was his doing. He should remember that.

Ch’vayre realizes that he’s witnessing more than simply a power struggle. The two men really despise each other. He wonders if this alliance is yet another misjudgement on his part. His thoughts take him back a few weeks when, from his remote monastery, he dared contact Shaw with an urgent proposition.


From his base of operations, Ch’vayre contacts Sebastian Shaw, whose face appears large on his monitors. Ch’vayre wished to speak with the Black King in person, and Shaw is amenable to that. He finds it curious that Ch’vayre is contacting him by breaching a personal communication line… reason enough to investigate this stranger further.

(London, a little later)

Ch’vayre is sitting at the end of a long dining table as Sebastian Shaw appears with Trevor Fitzroy at his side. He asks the stranger if he is comfortable, but Ch’vayre replies that he isn’t impressed by his decadence or the interminable wait for his arrival. Shaw feels that he should be grateful he is there at all. In response to similar displays of arrogance, he usually kills first and asks questions later. He introduces Fitzroy, commenting that he wouldn’t normally allow him to attend his private meetings, but as Fitzroy is from the future, his presence holds a certain significance. He is privy to information that only someone from the future could possess, and information is power.

Shaw asks Ch’vayre why he needs him, when he has Fitzroy. Ch’vayre explains that, for years, he has wondered about the significance of the object secreted far beneath the building they are in. Only he knows how to exploit it to their mutual advantage. Is Shaw interested now? Of course he is.


Elsewhere, at Wilhelm’s castle, Nathan and Irene have retired to their quarters. Nathan still feels that Wilhelm is hiding something. There’s something strange about his behavior, and a vagueness about his story. He can tell when someone’s feeding him a line. Plus, he knows that most of his ‘believers’ maintain his safehouses all over the world. Occasionally, they recruit others to the cause without his knowledge. In all honestly, he admits, it’s rather unsettling to him.

Nathan has often found himself a leader of men, but that was on the battlefield and in the heat of combat. This is different, he feels. This borders on idolatry. One thing is certain - he doesn’t sense an immediate threat from Wilhelm. He is too old. Irene agrees that he’s old, but he doesn’t look old enough to have served in World War II like he claims. Nathan knows. He’s definitely hiding something, and he decides to read his mind.

Irene is angry that he would do this, but Nathan figures it’s the only way to ascertain his true identity. Irene asks how he can do that - just indiscriminately read minds like that. Nathan understands her outrage, but this is war, and the stakes are high. “And that’s your justification?” asks Irene. “Means to an end,” replies Nathan.

Nathan says this will only take a moment, and taking a deep breath, he closes his eyes and his mind touches that of their host. Irene doesn’t know what he sees, but it’s enough to tell him everything he knows.

(telepathic imagery)

Cable sees the horrific memories inside Wilhelm’s mind of a war-torn Europe. Included in these images, bombers drop their lethal cargo, Adolf Hitler salutes those who follow him and the Invaders fight together for a common cause.


Nathan comes back to reality with a start. He drops to his knees and goes down like a sack of potatoes, shaking like a scared child. Whatever he’s seen, Irene figures, has it been too much for him? Nathan sits back up, a look of horror on his face. Irene asks what it is. Nathan informs her that he knows who the man is. His name is Wilhelm Lohmer, but he once when by another name.


Cable goes to meet Wilhelm who is reading. He says it’s time to face the consequences of his actions… actions and atrocities committed years ago for which he has never had to answer. No longer. It’s time to face the truth of his identity. If he is a believer, then he must know that nothing can remain hidden from him for very long. “You can’t run away from your past, Wilhelm, or should I refer to you as Master Man?”

Characters Involved: 


Irene Merryweather

Hellfire Club soldiers

Swiss villager

Wilhelm Lohmer/Master Man

Sebastian Shaw

Donald Pierce



The Harbinger

Sebastian Shaw

Donald Pierce


Trevor Fitzroy

Adolf Hitler

Captain America, Human Torch I, Sub-Mariner (as the Invaders)

Story Notes: 

Master Man first appeared in Giant-Size Invaders #1 (1975). Lohmer was transformed into Master Man by Brain Drain as a kind of response to Captain America.

Issue Information: 
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