Cable (2nd series) #8

Issue Date: 
January 2009
Story Title: 
Waiting for the End of the World – Chapter Two: Invasion, U.S.A.

Duane Swierczynski (writer), Ariel Olivetti (artist), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letterer), Will Panzo and Sebastion Girner (assistant editors), Axel Alonso (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

In present-day San Francisco, Emma Frost, acting on the orders of Cyclops, begins telepathically torturing Bishop for information, despite the objections of Beast. Bishop eventually informs Cyclops that the answers he seeks are buried in a box. He tells him where to find it. In New Liberty, far in the future, the invading government soldiers are revealed to be human-cockroach hybrids. While Cable runs away to find Little Girl, his wife Hope is kidnapped and taken to the town square with the rest of the villagers. Although Cable’s first instinct is to take the child and leave, the girl’s objections overwhelm him, and he decides to save his wife. He digs up his weaponry and prepares for battle. Meanwhile, the soldiers reveal their true nature to the terrified villagers just as a nest of giant cockroach eggs hatches.

Full Summary: 

New Liberty. The future…

Cable watches from the shadows of the forest as the masked, armored men, who claim to be from the United States government, invade New Liberty. They tell the villagers to relax. Cable, however, is far from relaxed. This invasion never happened in his timeline; something has changed, and he refuses to stick around to find out what. Still obscured by the shadows, he runs back to town.

His wife Hope meets him at their door. What’s wrong, she asks? Cable cannot bring himself to tell her. His only concern is finding the little girl. Hope informs him the little girl followed him to the edge of town. Dammit, he says! How could she let her go?! Hope, refusing to accept the blame, stares at Nathan sternly and reminds him the little girl always follows him. Frustrated, Cable leaves and heads to the front door.

When he first met Hope, Cable reminisces, she teased him for being overprotective. It was a long time before he trusted her enough to leave her alone with the messiah child, even if only for a few minutes. It was a source of constant tension between them. The day he and Hope were married, however, he eased up. It was that same day he buried all his weapons beneath the concrete slab in front of the house. He stands over those same weapons right now, pondering the life he must now leave. However, he has no time to unearth his weapons; right now, his first priority is finding the little girl.

X-Men Headquarters, San Francisco. The present…

“Remember that old joke about the only two ways to protect yourself from a nuclear blast?” the captive Bishop asks Cyclops. “You either stop the bomb from going off…or be very, very far from the bomb when it does.” Cyclops, ignoring Bishop’s vaguely threatening jest, offers him one last chance to tell them where, and when, he planted his bombs. “Don’t worry, Scott. You’ll be long dead before the first one blows,” Bishop tells him. Cyclops firmly asks him again: where, and when? Instead, Bishop asks him why he cares. What could the X-Men even do about the bombs if they knew of the location? Do they have an extra time machine lying around or something?

Scott clenches his jaw. “You know, for a man who wants to convince me of his side of things, you’re doing a really #$%^& job.”

Beast and Cyclops watch this interrogation from the control room. Thankfully, Hank says, they know what tools Bishop acquired on his journey, thanks to the digital record he kept. However, that doesn’t help Cable and the baby at all, Cyclops says. Hank asks if he truly believes Bishop is capable of committing global genocide. Scott reminds him of one crucial fact: Bishop doesn’t believe the timeline where Cable is hiding is real because it’s so different from the one in which he grew up. He believes killing the baby will erase that entire timeline from existence like hitting a giant reset button, which he believes will save a million people from mutantkind. My God, Hank says in disbelief. Because of this, Scott feels justified in doing what he is about to do. He orders Emma to begin. She approaches Bishop and, with an expression of regret on her face, begins her interrogation.

The future…

During his discrete trek back to the border, Cable is stopped by one of the invading U.S. soldiers, who orders him to report to the mandatory meeting in town. This is exactly the type of thing Cable wants to avoid. He reaches out and slugs the soldier in the face, hoping to end the confrontation quickly and decisively. The blow, however, only shatters the soldier’s helmet and mask, revealing something Cable never expected: a four-eyed, multi-mouthed insect head. No fair, the bug soldier says; Cable ruined the surprise!

The present…

Hank and Cyclops observe Emma’s interrogation of Bishop from the control room. It looks brutal. What on earth is she doing, Hank asks Cyclops? Drowning him in his own memories, Cyclops answers. “He feels like his brain is shutting down, one synapse at a time. We take him to the brink, we see where his thoughts go. See what he’s hiding,” Cyclops says. So, in other words, it’s torture, Hank says. Cyclops insists it isn’t torture. Torture would be to send Wolverine in to slowly dismember the man. This? This is simply aggressive interrogation. Hank asks to be spared the semantics; he knows torture when he sees it. Cyclops reminds his fellow X-Man of what Bishop stole and what he intends to do with it. Truth is, Bishop is getting off easy, he says.

The future…

Now that he sees whom he has to fight, Cable wishes he had taken the time to dig up his weapons first. Now he must do battle with his fists. He takes another swing at the ant-faced soldier, and although he packs a punch, the soldier quickly recovers and retaliates with a blow so devastating it sends Cable soaring through the concrete wall of a nearby building and all the way out the other end. He hasn’t been hit that hard in years.

While he lay in the wreckage, thinking about his atrophied muscles, the cockroach-man lunges toward him with his fists raised. Cable reaches for a nearby scythe. The bug-man stands over him with his foot raised: is he ready for the mandatory meeting yet, he asks? Cable kicks him in the groin in response. Cockroach-Man merely laughs; that’s not how his kind reproduces anymore! Cable interrupts his attacker mid-sentence by removing its head with a hearty swing of the scythe. Unfortunately, this doesn’t end the confrontation. The head, now resting on the ground separated from the body, tells him he will have to do better than that. With Cable off-guard, the soldier’s body approaches from behind and pummels him relentlessly in the back. The disembodied head laughs. They don’t breathe with their mouths or trachea anymore, either!

Cable realizes he may have to improvise. Luckily he knows enough about insect biology to know what he must do. “You look like a cockroach,” he says to the bug while picking up a nearby chainsaw. “Let me guess – you breathe through the small spiracles in your chest?” A look of horror crosses the bug-man’s face. He begs for Cable to stop, but predictably, the hardened ex-soldier doesn’t listen. He slices the arthropod’s body in two, then crushes the head between his hands. If it breathes, it lives, Cable says to himself. Just a matter of finding out where the air goes in and out.

The present…

Emma wipes her brow as she exits the interrogation chamber. Well, Cyclops asks? Emma tells him she learned way too much, actually. She saw visions of Bishop destroying Australia, Asia, and the Middle East, among other things. Cyclops asks when, but she does not know; it’s hard to get a fix on a date when all she can see is a blinding flash of light and burning flesh and people screaming. “This isn’t easy for me, love,” she says.

“I know, Emma,” Cyclops says, placing his hand on her shoulder. “But you said Australia, right?” He recalls that Bishop’s parents were Aborigines who fled Australia just before it was nuked in his timeline. They ended up in a mutant camp. Why would Bishop nuke the country of his origin? Emma, keeping her eyes downturned, says she had the same thought. She cannot tell if these images from Bishop’s mind are memories or dreams. Cyclops tells her she needs to go back in and learn more. She hangs her head and refuses. If she goes any further, there may not be anything left of Bishop’s mind to probe.

The future…

After his neighbor Griff spotted him slaughtering the insect soldier, Cable allowed the diminutive guy to accompany him in his search and rescue mission. Griff jokes he came to New Liberty thinking he would never have to see a cockroach ever again. The joke is on him, he supposes. Cable asks if he has seen his daughter. No, Griff says. She’s not out there, is she?

Suddenly the two men are sighted by a pair of soldiers. They order them to report to the meeting. After telling Griff to aim for the chest, Cable lunges at one of the armored men, slicing through his torso with his scythe. He follows this attack with an uppercut which shatters the bug-man’s helmet. While he attacks the other soldier and rips away his chest, Griff lunges at the wounded soldier with a spear and pierces his torso.

Standing over the two dead monsters, Griff tells Cable he always suspected he was no ordinary farmer. Moving on, he asks if Cable has any theories regarding the bug men. Looks like someone is messing with human and insect DNA, Cable answers. Griff asks why, but Cable immediately provides a conjecture: cockroaches can survive almost anything. Griff, changing the subject once more, says they should find some weapons and round up some men. Cable declines. Griff gives him a confused look, but Cable says he needs to find his daughter first. Honestly, though, he cannot tell Griff the truth. He cannot afford to stick around fighting these bugs and protecting New Liberty. He came here to stay off the radar and out of the history books; he intends to get the little girl as far away from New Liberty as possible. He hopes she will understand one day that he did what he did for her.

The present…

Cyclops checks in with Hank in the lab. He asks for an update on his progress, but Hank only provides curt, negative answers. Has he found anything at all, Cyclops asks? Hank reports he found one small device whose purpose he cannot ascertain, but that’s all. They’re running out of options, Cyclops says. “Oh? The torture not working for you?” Hank retorts. Come on, Cyclops says. Hank refuses to relent. “No…you come on, Scott. I’ve been monitoring his heart rate and brain waves from up here,” Beast says. “Do you realize how close you were to killing him?”

The future…

Little Girl was clever enough to seek refuge atop the town’s water tower. Unfortunately, this position makes her location very prominent, and Cable asks her to come down. “Nathan, they’re everywhere,” she says. She tells him the soldiers use some sticky substance, and pull a big bag around everywhere they go. She wonders if this is where they keep their toys. Climbing up the ladder, Cable informs the little girl the men are soldiers, and begins to feed her a lie about why they came. However, he stops himself. He vowed to never lie to her, no matter what. He cannot afford to undermine her trust. When he reaches the top of the tower, he tells her the truth: the soldiers are monsters. Eww, she says. Cable won’t let them turn her into a monster, will he? No, he says, before telling her they need to leave.

Meanwhile, in the town square, the cockroach soldiers have rounded up most of the townspeople and hold, at gunpoint, everyone not already bound and gagged in their sticky goo. They try and calm the people by telling them the world outside has changed for the worse. A cluster of leathery, bulging eggs rests in a container nearby, just as Little Girl reported. She and Cable covertly approach and hide behind a barrel. The girl tries to spot her mom in the crowd, but cannot. Cable tells her to be quiet; he wants to hear what the soldiers are saying. They spout something about the environmental conditions in the outside world having deteriorated, which is why they brought radiation gear for everyone. With the help of the people of New Liberty, they claim they can take back the United States of America!

At that moment, Little Girl sees her mother in the crowd, tied to a group of villagers. She turns to her daddy. “Nathan! Go get her!” she demands. “You have to go get her!” Cable looks at her. He feels especially responsible for Hope’s predicament; after all, he left her at the house, alone and defenseless, while he went to find Little Girl. He wants to tell his adopted daughter everything will be alright, but remembers his promise to never lie to her. No, he says; they need to keep moving. The child demands to know why he won’t do anything. Her mommy is right there, all covered in goo and surrounded by monsters; He cannot just leave her! Cable insists they need to leave. “I hate you hate you hate you!” Little Girl shouts in defiance.

The present…

Cyclops, having returned to the interrogation chamber, asks Bishop to give some bit of information he can use. He needs to be convinced Bishop is anything other than a mass murderer. After hesitating for a moment, Bishop says he needs to show him something. Scott hesitates as well; he doesn’t exactly trust Bishop. However, the prisoner insists he must see this one thing. He will tell Cyclops where he can find it, and tells him he can send whomever he wants. Once Cyclops learns what is in this box, he will understand everything. “Tell me where it is,” Cyclops says.

The future…

Cable fractures the concrete slab in front of his home using only his fists. After sufficiently weakening it, he pulls out a shovel and digs, eventually unearthing a buried, wooden box full of his old weaponry. Little Girl watches. He hopes she will one day understand why he has to do this. Everything he does, he does to protect her. Every decision he makes, he makes to protect her, even when the decisions seem wrong at the time.

He pulls on his battle suit. “You look handsome, Nathan,” Little Girl says as a tear rolls down her cheek. He lifts her into his arms and gives her a hug. It’s time to go save her mother.

Meanwhile, the cockroach-men remove their helmets, revealing their true faces to the New Libertarians. They will not be able to save America without their help, they say. These civilians represent the future of their great nation! Adding to the terror the civilians already feel, the large egg sac hatches, releasing several enormous cockroaches. As the villagers run for their lives, the bug-soldier reminds them there is no need to be afraid!

Characters Involved: 


Little Girl (the messiah child)

Hope (Cable’s wife)

Griff (New Libertarian)

Various townspeople

Various cockroach soldiers

Beast, Cyclops, Emma Frost (X-Men)


in Bishop’s mindscape:

Charles Xavier

Unidentified woman

Story Notes: 

Incidentally, Hope was also the name of Cable’s sister-in-law from the Askani timeline.

Bishop first told the X-Men about his parents and their exodus from Australia in X-Treme X-Men #4.

The image of Bishop firing on Cable and the baby with a machine gun occurred in Cable (2nd series) #5. The image of Charles Xavier being shot occurred in X-Men (2nd series) #207.

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