Cable (2nd series) #12

Issue Date: 
May 2009
Story Title: 
Wasteland Blues – Conclusion

Duane Swierczynski (writer), Jamie McKelvie (penciler and inker for pages 1-19), Ariel Olivetti (artist for pages 20-22), Guru EFX (colorist for pages 1-19), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letterer), Sebastian Girner (assistant editor), Axel Alonso (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

With Cable passed out from dehydration, Hope has to use her mutant abilities to find him water before he dies. She finds him potable water in a downed space capsule and revives him. Cable wonders how she managed to save him, but lets the issue go when he sees Hope getting stressed. Later, they arrive at the remains of the X-Mansion in Westchester, restock their supplies, and discover the message Cyclops left for them hundreds of years earlier. Rejuvenated, they once again timeslide, but end up in an ominous, urban environment Cable finds eerily familiar – and from which they discover they cannot escape.

Full Summary: 

For her entire life, Cable has taken care of Hope. Unfortunately, he never taught her how to take care of him, should the need arise – as it has at this moment. Cable’s limp body lies at the bottom of a crater. Hope pleads with him to wake up, but to no avail. She positions her ear on his chest and listens for signs of life. Thankfully, she can hear him breathing. That’s good news, but she struggles with what to do next. What would Cable do in this situation? He would probably say something dumb like, “use your environment, young one”, Hope thinks. Earth to Nathan: the whole environment is a wasteland.

Just as she tells herself there is absolutely nothing around to use, a glimmer of light catches her eye. She runs toward the submerged object but doesn’t feel optimistic about it. In all likelihood, it’s probably an empty can, she says. When Hope reaches the shiny piece of metal, she digs around it, revealing a metal cylinder with a broken top. “It is an empty can,” she sighs. However, she notices some strange letters carved into its side, and decides to investigate further.

Hope begins to dig. It quickly becomes apparent the object is bigger and deeper than she anticipated. I wish I had my mutant powers already, she thinks. Like maybe the power to see through dirt. Or vaporize huge pieces of ground with a single glance…

Hope suddenly finds herself staring at the top of some massive spacecraft. Red letters on the hatch spell out NASDA, while the same strange letters she saw on the ventilation pipe adorn the face of the chamber. Believing there must be something of value inside the chamber, Hope begins prying at the hatch. She struggles to make any progress. Cable could probably open it with his pinky finger, she thinks. After much grunting and gripping, the door flies open and sends Hope tumbling to the ground, prompting her to curse.

Hope peers into the dark hatch. As she begins to descend into the unknown, she hesitates at the entrance; what would Cable do in this situation? He’d arm himself with a bunch of crap first, she thinks. She runs back over to his motionless body and raids his utility belt. After grabbing some basic tools and a flashlight, Hope runs back to the hatch and peers into the dark interior. Now illuminated, she sees a room filled with high-tech equipment, sand, and dead bodies. “Why are all of the people we meet skeletons?” she groans.

Because people lived in this chamber, Hope deduces it must have contained things like food and water. She wonders if the occupants died before they finished off the supplies. While searching through the dark, she finds a piece of machinery designed to recover water by filtering urine. Hope excitedly pries it open with Cable’s hunting knife and spies two large, green canisters inside. “#$@%-in’ A!” she says.

As she drags the heavy canister back to Cable, Hope recalls his advice about water. If it remains clear after she tests it with the special capsules, it should be safe. She drops in one of the red pills, and to her delight, the water stays clear. She begins pouring it directly from the canister into Cable’s open mouth. After a moment – and a few coughs – he regains consciousness.

Pretty sure it’s day 1528, Cable thinks when he awakes. But I honestly don’t know how long I was out. Although he still feels groggy, Hope hugs him around the neck. Cable spots the green canister and asks Hope where she found it. She reports she found it in the metal box at the bottom of the crater. Cable immediately begins to ask if she tested it first, but Hope impatiently cuts him off and assures him she isn’t stupid. He just stares at her for a moment, then asks her to return his utility belt. As he puts it back on, he looks at what Hope managed to accomplish while he was unconscious, but finds it impossible to piece together… unless Hope’s mutant powers finally manifested.

They eat some preserved food they find in the craft. Cable keeps a suspicious eye on Hope over the course of their meal, unsure of how she knew where to find food, or how she opened the hatch, or how she managed to find a steel container that had been buried underground for so long. Maybe she can sense things the way most people can’t, he thinks, unaware that Hope removed the obstructing dirt with her newfound mutant abilities. There’s no good explanation otherwise. He decides not to push the topic anymore for now. However, he resolves to not let her down again.

After they finish their meal and begin the next leg of their journey, Hope stares at her guardian with suspicion. She’s used to him looking out for her, but now, she feels like he’s just looking at her, as if he expects her to say something. She supposes he could just be sick from the food.

Day 1543…

Two miles outside of what used to be the Pennsylvania Turnpike, Cable and Hope discover the remains of something resembling a shopping mall. Cable asks Hope if she feels anything. She asks what he means. He clarifies: does she sense anything special in the area, like she did with the space station? She scowls at his question. Trying another avenue, Cable explains how, long ago, he had the ability to move objects with his mind. Hope asks if that was his mutant ability. He had others, he says. Hope asked what happened to them, but Cable tells her that story can wait. For now, he wants to know what she can do. Hope asks if he wants to know if she can move things with her mind. No, he says; he wants to know if she can feel anything different in the area, like she did with the space capsule. Annoyed, Hope folds her arms and insists she felt nothing because of the space station – except maybe hunger, because she was starving. Cable asks how she found it, if that’s the case. She insists she applied what he taught her and simply used her environment.

“Humor an old man and just try,” Cable pleads. Hope concedes to the old man’s wishes. She holds out her arms, like she did to uncover the space capsule, and awaits Cable’s instructions. He tells her to breathe and let her mind wander. Unfortunately, this trial of powers quickly frustrates Hope. She turns toward Cable and snaps that she can’t do what he wants because she has no idea what she wants! Cable, giving her a slightly wounded look, tells her she can relax; everything is okay.

Westchester, New York. Former site of the X-Mansion…

By the time they arrive at the battered gates of the Xavier Institute, Cable once again feels feverish. Their water ran out around North Jersey. If they cannot find supplies at the X-Mansion, Cable doesn’t know what will happen.

Hope looks at the remains of the mansion and grimaces. “Looks closed,” she says. Cable unexpectedly storms toward the standing walls. He doesn’t see any signs of Bishop’s activity, but that doesn’t mean much. Bishop could have been hiding anywhere and jumping forward and back in time in small increments, awaiting their eventual arrival. He decides not to take any chances. He opens fire on the door and splinters it to smithereens. With the first door out of the way, he runs inside, and tackles the next door with his shoulder. Hope watches in fear; Cable appears to have lost his mind. When she asks him to calm down, he turns to her and forcefully orders her to stay back. She watches in panic as he fires at the concrete floor with his assault rifle. As he jumps into the hole he created, Hope asks him to wait, but he doesn’t even listen. She walks to the edge of the hole and peers inside, and finds him standing at the base with his arms outstretched. He asks her to jump down; the area is clear. She leaps into his arms.

There are not many usable materials in the bunker, but Cable finds enough to satisfy him. While he scrounges up supplies, Hope picks up an old X-Men uniform off the rack and holds it out in excitement. This uniform might actually fit her, she says excitedly! Cable informs her it used to belong to a mutant named Kitty. “Cool. Will I meet her someday?” Hope asks. Cable curtly says Kitty died before continuing his search for supplies. “Oh,” Hope replies. She sticks her out her tongue at her grouchy protector after he turns his back.

Suddenly, Cable hears a faint beeping noise coming from a small device submerged in the dirt. He immediately assumes it is a bomb left by Bishop. However, he excavates the device and sees it is a digital recorder specifically coded to his DNA; it only began beeping because it sensed his presence. He hits its play button, and the message begins. This is Scott Summers, the message says, and this is for my son, Nathan Christopher Summers.

Hope and Cable listen intently as the message plays. In it, Scott warns them about Bishop’s relentless vendetta – and his inability to stop him. Scott admits he feels as helpless as he did the first time he let Nathan go into the timestream. He has learned how to deal with the tragedies of life, but not the questions. The questions threaten to overwhelm him, but one thing keeps that desperate feeling at bay: faith. There’s no one I have more faith in that you, Nathan, the recorded message says. I trust that you know what’s right. And that’s what keeps me going. You’re my son. That’s all I need to know.

The message ends. Feeling rejuvenated, Cable and Hope head back outside to face the world. Food and water may be essential for sustaining life, but there is something else that can sustain a man too, and somehow, Cyclops found a way to deliver it to his son.

Cable asks Hope if she is ready for another timeslide. She groans; she is definitely going to throw up on him again. “It’s okay,” Cable says. Hope reminds him he just got a new uniform. “It’s okay, Hope,” he repeats with a smile on his face. He grabs hold of her, and the two of them plunge into the timestream once more.

Outskirts of Westchester, New York. 2973 A.D.…

Again, Hope pukes, and Cable asks her to breathe. They look around and find themselves in an unwelcoming, graffiti-strewn urban environment. Cable had hoped for a change with this jump and it looks like he got just that. Hope asks what is wrong; Cable tells her he doesn’t know. It’s just not the change for which he hoped. Something about this place seems horribly familiar to him, as if it was drawn from his nightmares.

He decides they need to jump again, immediately. Hope whines; she just finished throwing up from the last jump. Can’t they look around first? Cable insists they need to go. However, when he activates his timeslide mechanism – a device that until today could only carry them forward in time – he finds it no longer works at all.

Nearby, something snaps. Cable pulls Hope into his body and asks her to stay quiet. Down the dimly lit alleyway, against the desolate backdrop of concrete walls, neon signs, and “wanted” posters, they see a group of ominous, silhouetted figures. It was only a short while ago that Cable wished to bump into any signs of life. It seems he forgot the old adage to be careful what he wished for.

Characters Involved: 


Hope Summers II

Silhouetted figures

Story Notes: 

Incidentally, the characters on the downed space capsule say “Hope” in Japanese. Special thanks to the UXN poster Baltazar for deciphering these symbols.

This issue marks the first appearance of Hope’s mutant powers since her birth.

Kitty Pryde supposedly died in Giant-Sized Astonishing X-Men #1, shortly before the events of Messiah Complex.

Cyclops recorded the message depicted here in Cable (2nd series) #6.

Until this point, Cable has only been able to travel forward in time. However, at the end of this issue, he travels to 2973 A.D., a trip that must be a step backward in time. The year was last explicitly stated in King-Size Cable Spectacular #1 as 2276 A.D., after which Cable traveled forward an unspecified number of years to the New Liberty. Regardless, in Cable (2nd series) #11, he and Hope jump forward a total of 1100 years, which means they at least traveled to the year 3376 A.D. For Cable to suddenly be in 2973 A.D., he must have traveled back in time. How exactly he accomplished this is unknown at this point.

This story continues – and the reason this new era feels so familiar to Cable is revealed – in X-Force/Cable: Messiah War #1.

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