Cable (1st series) #88

Issue Date: 
February 2001
Story Title: 
Earth Abides

Robert Weinberg (writer), Michael Ryan (penciler), Ted Pertzborn with Rob Hunter (inkers), Hi Fi Design (colorist), Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Saida! (letterers), Pete Franco (assistant editor), Mark Powers (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Cable visits the grave of his recently murdered friend Moira MacTaggert. He is having trouble dealing with her death, and recalls their experiences together. Storm arrives on scene to try and comfort her friend. They discuss the abundance of death in their lives, and how Cable is unsure about the X-Men and what they are fighting for. Storm has someone back in New York that she wants Cable to meet with, and then departs. In New York, Cable attends a screening of the film Streets of Fire with his friend Irene Merryweather, who points out the similarities between Cable’s life and the film. They later go to a diner and continue to discuss movies, before Cable has to leave for an appointment. He catches a cab to a graveyard, where he is to meet the person Storm wanted him to talk with. That person is Nightcrawler, another man who was friends with Moira. Nightcrawler is cryptic with his messages for Cable, and forces him to fight him. But Nightcrawler is always one step ahead, which frustrates and angers Cable. Storm soon arrives, and the battle ends. Storm tells Cable that no matter how much he misses her, Moira can’t come back. As Cable didn’t attend her funeral, Nightcrawler reads a passage from the Bible. Cable quits the X-Men, and suggests to Storm that the two of them go out for dinner and see a show together, and Storm agrees. Cable returns to his safe house after collecting a video and some food, surprising Irene, who is pleased that Cable is interested in watching another film. Elsewhere, Cable’s activities are being monitored by a mysterious organization of women called the Dark Sisterhood, who are involved with mobsters, one of whom has been double crossing them, so the leader of the Dark Sisterhood, the Dark Mother, gives him a stern warning, and tells him that his family and all of his associates will be killed.

Full Summary: 

Scotland, where the man who would be humanity’s savior - Nathan Summers a.k.a. Cable kneels beside a graveyard on a snow-covered slope. Light snow falls around him, the man arrogant enough to believe that by traveling back in time he alone can stop humankind from destroying itself. He has saved thousands of lives. But on this bitter morning, with the wind ff the Scottish Highlands biting through his skin, it is the one life he could not save that has left Cable a broken man. He lays a small bouquet of flowers beside the gravestone, as he remembers Dr Moira MacTaggert. Memories flash through his mind. To the rest of the world, she was a famed scientist, past winner of the Nobel Prize. To him, Moira was the person who saved his life, who gave shelter and comfort to a man who found himself lost and alone in a time and place completely alien to him. It was Moira who taught him to blend into early twenty-first century society and introduced him to those destined to become his closest allies - like Charles Xavier, and not to mention, she also opened his eyes to the beauty of art, literature and the land.

There is a gust of wind, and without turning around, Cable announces that he would like to be alone. ‘That, my friend, is tough’ replies Ororo “Storm” Munroe as she drops down from above. Cable turns to his friend and reminds her that he is not comfortable in crowds, so he prefers to make his farewells in private. ‘She meant a lot to you’ Storm states. ‘Yes, she did’ Cable replies. Storm asks him if he would like to talk about it, to which Cable asks ‘Talk? Why talk? Another person’s dead. A person I cared for deeply’. He continues, stating that Moira is dead and the fight continues. Coexistence between man and mutant remains as elusive as ever - nothing changes. ‘Nothing ever changes’ he tells Storm.

‘You sound bitter’ Storm points out as she stands next to Cable, who replies ‘Bitter? No, Ororo. I’m not bitter. I’m tired. I’m so very tired’. He adds that there are too many deaths - Moira, Senator Kelly, Pyro, and so many others, all leading nowhere. ‘It’s meaningless’ he remarks. Storm tells Cable that they were born with special abilities, but that does not make them gods. ‘As tragic and painful as it may be, people die. Moira died so that many others would live’ Storm adds, telling Cable that the important thing to remember is that he isn’t alone, as others share his grief. ‘Like Charles? Telling me to keep fighting the good fight. That, in the end, the reward will justify the deaths. I don’t think so. Not today’ Cable replies. Storm explains that she wasn’t referring to the Professor. ‘There are those among the X-Men who care for you. Me, for one’ Storm points out.

Storm informs Cable that the rest of the X-Men accept him, that he is one of them. ‘Still, most of them fear you. They’re young and filled with optimism. You keep much to yourself. To them, you are akin to a force of nature’ she adds as she looks into Cable’s eyes. ‘Of them all, only I think I truly know what you feel’ Storm claims. ‘Only I know what it is like to feel responsibility for the hopes and future of an entire population’. Cable replies that the weight of the world weighs heavily on his shoulders. ‘It’s more than any man can carry’ Storm remarks. ‘I do - because I must’ Cable points out. Images flood Cable’s mind - the future - his horrific future. He tells Storm that they take one stop forward then fall two steps back - that Apocalypse is destroyed and a dozen other monsters rise to take his place. ‘Kelly tries to bridge the gap between mutant and man, and he’s killed by one of his own’.

Cable reminds Storm that he has been fighting all his life and tells her that nothing changes. ‘I keep asking myself if it’s worth it. Are all the suffering and the pain and the death worth it? And each day my answer is less sure’ he remarks. ‘If the answers were so easy, the X-Men would not be necessary’ Storm tells Cable. She asks him to promise her that when he returns to New York, he will call her, as she wants him to talk to someone who she thinks can help him handle the grief that fills his heart. Cable replies that he mourns in his own way and that he doesn’t need to be taught differently. Storm tells Cable that they all think that, and adds that they are not always right. ‘Promise me?’ she asks him, before stroking his face. Cable promises. Storm bids him to take care, before she flies away. If ever there was a woman who walked the Earth that could lay claim to being a goddess, that woman is Ororo Munroe, Cable decides.

Forty-eight hours later in New York, Cable is wearing civilian clothing and exit’s a cinema which was screening “Streets of Fire”, onto a busy sidewalk, alongside Irene Merryweather, who asks him if he liked the movie. Nathan replies that he is almost embarrassed to admit that he did enjoy it, although the story was completely unbelievable. ‘Where were the rest of the police? Who was in charge of the city?’ he asks, adding that no one died, so it was a fairy tale. ‘Exactly, Nathan. That’s why I wanted you to see it. A rock and roll fable’ Irene explains, asking him if when he was a child he heard stories of great heroes and their deeds of valor. ‘Does everything have to be blood and death and destruction?’ she enquires, adding that she thought he would be able to relax watching a film .like this, as he has lived through too many real battles, so she thought this fantasy one would make him smile.

‘Obviously you know a lot about the film’ Cable tells Irene, asking her what it is that makes it so special to her, as usually she dislikes violence. ‘Because’ Irene simply replies, to which Cable tells her “because” is not an answer. ‘Because why?’ he asks. ‘Because when I see Tom Cody, I think of you. And oftentimes, when I see Nathan Summers, I think of Tom Cody’ Irene reveals.

At that moment, in an undisclosed location, several woman cloaked in long red robes kneel before another woman who wears a purple robe. She sits on a throne, and a monitor, depicting Cable and Irene hangs in the room. ‘The chosen one is completely unaware his every movement is being monitored!’ one of the women remarks. The woman on the throne tells the others to make no assumptions about Summers, as he knows when to act and when not to. ‘The Askani’son is more deadly than you can imagine’ she adds, before remarking that after decades of preparation, their time is near. ‘I will not have our plans thwarted by one foolish mistake. Is that understood?’ she asks. ‘Your word is law, Mother of Night’ one of the cloaked women replies.

Two more cloaked women enter the chamber, with a man in a suit, who asks ‘What’s da meaning of this? Who do you t’ink you are?’ One of the cloaked women tells him that they are his guardian angels, and addresses him as Mr Lobenzano. She adds that they are the people who make sure that his drug operation runs smoothly, without interference from the law’. She introduces herself and the others as the Dark Sisterhood. Wide-eyed, Mr Lobenzano asks what they need with him. One of the sisters explains that his payments for the last three months have been less than expected, and asks how he can explain this. Nervously, Mr Lobenzano replies that sales on the street have been slow, as kids are getting too smart, with all the anti-drugs ads and seminars. ‘You know, the stuff on TV and everything’ he explains.

‘How interesting’ one of the sisters remarks, before revealing that it is strange that their spies in his operation report exactly the opposite. ‘You’re selling more illegal drugs than ever and making huge profit. Part of which should be ours’ she tells him, stating that he has been deceiving them. ‘Man’s gotta do what he’s gotta do. Can’t blame me for trying’ Lobenzano replies. He adds that, after all, it is not like there is any big drug crackdown happening these days, and the days of gang warfare are over. ‘You ladies aren’t needed anymore. Why pay for protection when there’s nobody to protect us from? I got a big payroll’ he explains. One of the sisters informs Lobenzano that the protection money wasn’t only to protect him from the police and other gangs, but also to protect him from them.

With this revelation, Lobenzano quickly announces that he will pay it all back, and double, too. The woman on the throne tells him that it is too late, as they knew he was cheating them since the beginning. ‘Whenever we move into a new city, we pick an organization to serve as an example for all the rest. One small demonstration of power is all it takes’ she announces. ‘Example? Picked? Whadda you talking about?’ the confused man enquires. ‘That big payroll you mentioned. Thirty-two people work for your organization, Mr Lobenzano’ the woman on the throne tells him. Mr Lobenzano agrees that that sounds about right. ‘They are all dead’ the Mother of Night informs him. ‘Dead? No. You can’t do that. I’ll pay, I’ll pay!’ Me Lobenzano exclaims quickly.

‘Too late. They perished the moment you walked into this room. As did their wives, husbands, lovers, companions, children, live-in-relatives. All gone!’ the Mother of Night declares, telling Mr Lobenzano that to betray the Dark Sisterhood, there is only one punishment - death. ‘My wife! My kids! My mother!’ Mr Lobenzano gasps. ‘Dead. Wiped out. You will soon join them, but not just yet’ the Mother tells him, explaining that she has a job for him to perform, and states that as her ambassador, he will travel to the other bosses of the city, the major gang leaders of the streets and tell them what happened here today. ‘Tell them the truth and let them know that any attempt to cheat us will be dealt with even harsher penalties’. She adds that only when he is done, will he be able to act of his own free will, and asks him if he understands. ‘Yes, Dark Mother. Your word is law’ Mr Lobenzano replies. Dark Mother tells him to leave, as she has other business to attend to.

Her face shrouded under her hood, the Dark Mother declares that their time approaches, and that Cable will pay for his crimes - as will his sister. ‘Both of them will pay slowly, in much pain, but ultimately…with their lives’.

Back in the bustling city, Nathan and Irene sit opposite each other in a booth at a diner. ‘Tom Cody. Nathan Summers. Two peas in a pod’ Irene remarks. ‘I don’t even look like him’ Cable tells her. ‘Who, the actor Michael Pare? Of course not. You’re missing my point entirely. Sometimes you’re denser than a block of cement’ Irene replies. Cable enquires as to what point the is missing. ‘That you’re a hero, just like Tom Cody. A man who not only talks the talk, but walks the walk’ Irene explains. She continues, telling Cable that he is a man who knows his responsibilities and acts on them, despite the cost, no matter the price. ‘Irene, I have absolutely no idea what you’ve just said’ Cable tells his friend. He then tells Irene that he isn’t a hero, but a soldier, a fighter, that he has devoted his life to a cause. ‘It’s the right cause, yet it’s the cause that destroyed my wife and my friends’.

‘That’s not true! That’ never been true! I knew Moira MacTaggert’s death affected you, I just didn’t realize how much!’ Irene tells Cable. He looks wide-eyed, and reminds Irene that he said he is a soldier, not a builder, but a destroyer. Irene tells Cable that he underestimates himself. ‘Everything you said now, other than the fact that you’re a soldier, is wrong. And you know it. You’re just too stubborn to admit it’. Irene smiles and announces that tomorrow night she is renting “Soldier” with Kurt Russell, and suggests that might drill into Cable’s pea-sized brain what she is trying to tell him. ‘If not, then it’s “Key Largo” with Bogart and “Dark City” and “Yojimbo” and “Zatoichi’s Flashing Sword” and…’ her voice trails off as Cable tells her ‘Enough, enough. You’ll have me spending the rest of my life watching movies’.

Irene tells Cable that it wouldn’t hurt to watch a few films. ‘You’ve been fighting so hard all your life that I think you’ve forgotten what you’re fighting for. If it takes some films to make that clear again, so be it’ Irene points out. Cable gets up and Irene asks him where he thinks he is going. ‘You can’t run out on me now. I’ve just started getting angry!’ she declares. Cable tells Irene that he is sorry and that they will have to postpone the rest of this conversation, as he promised a friend he would meet someone at midnight tonight. He suggests Irene take a cab back to the safe house and that she can yell at him more tomorrow. ‘I’m only trying to help’ Irene replies, and Cable tells her that he knows, and he appreciates the efforts, but that he doesn’t think movies and yelling are working. ‘I don’t know that anything will’ he adds. Irene bids Nathan good night, and he does the same to her.

Shortly, Nathan is in the back of a cab, and the driver pulls up at St Bartholomew’s Church in Brooklyn. He tells Cable that it isn’t one of the best neighborhoods in the city and asks him if he would like him to wait. Cable ignores the question, instead enquiring as to whether there is a graveyard in the rear of the church. The cab driver confirms that there is, and explains that it dates back to the Eighteen-Hundreds, but it has been unused for years. ‘You’re not planning to go there, are you?’ the cab driver enquires. Cable hands the driver some money, and thanking him for the info, assures him that he will be fine. ‘Yeah, sure. It’s your funeral’ the cab driver tells him. The cab pulls away, as Cable stands before the gates, swinging in the night wind. ‘Hello? Anyone here? Hello?’ he calls out. The sign above the gate reads “Man comes and goes but Earth abides”.

Cable enters the graveyard, which is full of extravagant sculptures, large gravestones and tombs. The handsome hero recalls that Storm said to go to the crypt in the middle of the cemetery. ‘Though why anyone would want to meet here is beyond me’ he thinks to himself. As he makes his way through the seemingly empty graveyard, Cable gets the feeling that he is being watched. But, he is all alone - with the dead. He passes more gravestones, and calls out ‘Anyone he-’ but he is interrupted by a burst of sulphur and brimstone, and the sound of a BAMF, as Kurt “Nightcrawler” Wagner appears. He greets Cable and thanks him for coming. ‘Kurt - Nightcrawler? I should have guessed with all these spooky trappings, it would be you. Fits your love of the dramatic perfectly’ Cable points out.

Kurt replies that he knows, and explains that like most of the X-Men, he is somewhat put ill at ease by Cable. ‘You stalk about the mansion as if you’re on a seek-and-destroy mission’ Nightcrawler points out, adding that Cable rarely, if ever, smiles, and never says much in regards to casual conversation. ‘You’re one of us, but then again, you’re not one of us’ Kurt explains. Cable tells Nightcrawler that he can’t help the way he is, adding that he isn’t comfortable in groups, even among friends, and that small talks bore him. ‘I don’t fit in’ he admits. Kurt smiles and points out that Nathan didn’t have any trouble fitting in with Moira MacTaggert. ‘Moira was different. I could talk to her’ Cable explains. Kurt agrees that Moira was special that way, and informs Cable that he and Moira were close. ‘Did you know that?’ he asks.

‘No. There were many things about her I didn’t know’ Cable replies. Nightcrawler tells Cable that he understands and asks him he if wonders what Moira thought of him, telling him that he made a lasting impression on her, and that he knows she spoke of him often. ‘Moira was very important to me’ Cable confirms. ‘How special?’ Nightcrawler enquires, asking Cable if he ever considered that in these last few months, when she was dying of the Legacy Virus, that perhaps she blamed him for her illness. ‘After all, it was your enemy who released the virus. If you had never appeared, Moira might be alive today’. Nightcrawler points out. ‘No. That isn’t true…that can’t be true!’ Cable replies. ‘Are you sure? Are you positive?’ Kurt asks him. ‘You don’t think I’ve considered the same question, wondered the same thoughts? I don’t know. I’ll never know’ Cable replies.

Nightcrawler reveals that Moira left a message for Cable, that she left it with him. ‘Of course, I haven’t decided if I should tell you it or not’ he adds. Cable turns away from Nightcrawler and tells him that he has no patience for this. ‘If she had something she wanted me to know, tell me’ he demands. ‘Catch me first. Then I’ll talk’ Nightcrawler replies as he teleports behind Cable, and touches him, then quickly teleports away once more, adding that when one’s foe can teleport, catching him is a challenge. Cable reaches out to grab Nightcrawler, but he teleports again and again.

‘Tell me!’ Cable demands, throwing off his trench coat, revealing his costume underneath. ‘When I’m ready and not before’ Kurt replies, perched on a gravestone. ‘This is no game. This is important!’ Cable exclaims as he leaps towards Nightcrawler, who teleports again, while telling Cable that if he wants Moira’s last words, he has to grab him first. ‘Oath!’ Cable calls out, but he misses, and as Kurt reappears, he remarks ‘That’s the trouble with you big tough guys, too clumsy. Wolverine’s bad, but you’re worse’. Cable lunges for Kurt once more, but falls over into the snow. ‘Missed me!’ Kurt calls out, before leaping behind Cable, who tells him ‘Enough fames, Nightcrawler! I said enough!’, and then keels over.

Nightcrawler perches himself on a gravestone and states that the world needs games, as it is what makes life bearable. ‘Enough. Please’ Cable calls out. He crawls towards Nightcrawler, but when he reaches up to the gravestone, Nightcrawler leaps away. ‘No more!’ Cable calls out as he rises, taking Nightcrawler by surprise, Cable grabs Kurt by his neck, ‘No more games, don’t you understand? This won’t bring Moira back!’ Cable shouts. Suddenly, Storm appears behind him, and touches Cable on the shoulder: ‘Of course not, Nathan. Nothing can bring her back. That is why Kurt was tormenting you. To force you to accept the truth’ Ororo explains, adding ‘That she is gone, and no matter how much we miss her, how much you miss her, she is not coming back’.

Storm asks Cable to put poor Kurt down before he chokes the life out of him. ‘Cutting it a bit close, eh Storm?’ Kurt asks. Storm apologizes to him, before asking Cable if he is okay. ‘Better than Kurt, I suspect’ Cable replies, asking if they planned this whole graveyard bit to make him face his repressed anger, the rage he felt at Moira’s death and his inability to do anything about it. ‘Exactly’ Storm replies, adding that all of them feel that way when someone close to them dies - that somehow they should have been able to do something about it. ‘There were no last words. Nothing Moira wanted to say to me’ Cable states. Still rubbing his neck, Nightcrawler reveals that there actually was a message, but they he couldn’t reveal it until Cable was ready to hear it.

Kurt pulls out a Bible, and tells Cable that he knows he is not a religious man, but that some words transcend any faith, that they speak directly to the soul, and these are the words that Moira left for him. Kurt explains that they come from a group of verses in the Bible known as the Ecclesiastes, and adds that he hopes Nathan will find some small measure of comfort in what they say, as he knows that is what Moira would have wanted as well. Standing under the statue of an angel, Cable hangs his head, and Storm puts a hand on his arm, as Nightcrawler reads:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the Heaven: A time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace; and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to get, and to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war and a time of peace’.

‘Goodbye, Moira. You will be missed’ Cable remarks, before shaking Kurt’s hand and thanking him. ‘I appreciate the chances you took. Sorry about the neck, I didn’t mean to hurt you’ Cable adds. ‘All in a day’s work, Nathan’ Kurt replies, adding that being able to help was his pleasure. He tells Cable that if he wants to thank someone, he should thank Storm, as all of this was her idea. ‘She planned everything. I just acted as the messenger’. Cable turns to Storm and takes her hand, as he looks her in the eye and remarks ‘What can I say. I was sinking in my grief, until you came along and pulled me out of the darkness’. Storm tells him that there is nothing to say, as he needed help and she is glad she was able to do what she could.

Cable announces that he is going to have to think about his time in the X-Men, as nothing is certain, but in the light of all that has happened, he thinks his efforts could be best directed elsewhere. ‘You are one of us, Nathan. Nothing you say will ever change that fact. Take your time. Sort out the facts’ Storm replies, telling him to never forget that if he needs someone, there is always someone there, anxious to help. As Storm starts to take flight, Cable calls out to her. ‘Yes, Nathan?’ Storm asks. ‘Maybe when all this is past, and things settle down…maybe you and I could spend an evening together, go out for dinner, maybe see a movie or a show’ he asks. ‘Not as Chosen One and Weather Goddess, but as Nathan Summers and Ororo Munroe, tow people who deserve a break from carrying the world on their shoulders’ Nathan suggests. Ororo tells him that she would like that very much.

Later, Nathan is inside 24-hour video rental store, and returns back to the safe house, where Irene is sitting on the sofa. ‘How did you meeting go?’ Irene asks when Cable enters. ‘Good. Much better than expected’ he tells her, holding up a bag. ‘What’s that?’ Irene enquires. ‘A video’ Cable replies, before asking if Blaquesmith is asleep. ‘Sure is. He wandered off an hour ago’ Irene replies. Cable holds up a packet of potato chips and tells Irene that he will put them in bowls, and reveals that he knows Irene is a night owl, so he rented them a video. ‘My-my-my, now that’s a switch. You rented a movie’ Irene replies, before asking which one. Cable replies that it is “Soldier” with Kurt Russell. ‘I-I’m speechless!’ Irene exclaims. ‘Good. Movies are better without commentary’ Cable tells her.

And soon, they are seated next to each other on the sofa, Irene sits a bowl of potato chips on her lap and explains ‘The little boy, Todd, that’s Kurt Russell. Not yet of course. That’s him as a child’. Cable tells Irene that he can think for himself. ‘Pretend you’re not an investigative reporter and have to explain every scene to me’ he asks her, adding that this is a man he can understand - the way he took out the entire squad. ‘Perfect. Just perfect. I like this actor, this Kurt Russell’ Cable announces. Irene tells him that tomorrow night they will watch “Zatoichi’s Flashing Sword”, as if he thinks Todd taking on a squadron of soldiers was something, he needs to see the blind swordsman fight dozens of samurais. ‘A blind swordsman? Sounds fascinating’ Nathan replies. Irene explains that he is a hero, and Cable looks away from her as she compliments him: ‘Whether you accept it or not, he’s just like you. A man who does the right thing, no matter what the cost. Exactly like you’.

Characters Involved: 


Nightcrawler & Storm (both X-Men)

Irene Merryweather

Dark Mother

Members of the Sisterhood
Mr Lobenzano

Cab Driver


In Cable’s Memory:


Dr Moira MacTaggert

Professor X



Story Notes: 

Moira MacTaggert was murdered by Mystique in X-Men (2nd series) #108, part of the “Dream’s End” crossover.

Cable & Moira’s history was first hinted at way back in one of Cable’s earliest appearances, New Mutants (1st series) #89, but not explored until Cable #minus1.

Pyro succumbed to the Legacy Virus in Cable (1st series) #87, also part of the “Dream’s End” crossover.

Senator Robert Kelly was also killed in “Dream’s End”, specifically by an anti-mutant terrorist in X-Men (2nd series) #108.

“Streets of Fire” is a 1984 film directed by Walter Hill starring Michael Pare as Tom Cody an ex-soldier. The film also stars Diane Lane, Rick Moranis, Bill Paxton and William Dafoe.

“Soldier” is a 1998 American film directed by Paul W S Anderson and stars Kurt Russell, Gary Busey, Connie Jason Scott Lee.

Nightcrawler and Moira were close as they spent a lot of time together when Excalibur was based on Muir Island. [Excalibur (1st series) #71-125]

Moira was revealed to have contracted the Legacy Virus in Excalibur (1st series) #80. The Legacy Virus was created by Cable’s clone and enemy, Stryfe, and released at the end of the “X-Cutioner’s Song” crossover.

Issue Information: 
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