Cable (1st series) #48

Issue Date: 
November 1997
Story Title: 
The Hellfire Hunt part 1 - Dirty Secrets

James Robinson (writer), Ladronn (penciler), Juan Vlasco (inker), Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s AD (letters), Gloria Vasquez (colors), Mark Powers (editor), Bob Harras (chief)

Brief Description: 

Irene Merryweather is a journalist with a tabloid magazine called the Inquiring Eye. She doesn’t like this kind of work, but she’s been unable to find a job at the Daily Bugle, New York City’s finest newspaper. She is given a job to track down a mysterious redhead, who was seen accompanying Sebastian Shaw to a function. She tries a few contacts, but they either feign ignorance, or simply don’t have that much information on him. She gets lucky when she speaks with Mickey Billings, a caterer at one of the functions that Shaw attended. He informs Irene that he overheard Shaw and a man named Pierce. Shaw was putting Pierce in charge of an operation that involved ‘hitting cord.’ Later, he remembers exactly what they had said, and he calls Irene to inform her that it was actually ‘hitting cable.’ She goes to his apartment to speak with him directly, but finds him dead. She then returns to the Inquiring Eye, only to find the place destroyed and everyone also dead. She panics and runs, only to be chased by several Hellfire Club soldiers. They destroy her car and corner her. She is saved by a strange man, who moves quickly to take them out with a minimum of fuss. He then introduces himself as Cable, and somehow she knows she is safe with him.

Full Summary: 

(New York City)

Reporter Irene Merryweather sits at her desk, typing away on her computer, almost oblivious to everything going on around her. She is at the Inquiring Eye where she works as a tabloid journalist. She isn’t entirely happy there. Her colleagues seem content enough, but since stories of super heroes and monsters became commonplace, the paper only prints scandal. It isn’t the career Irene dreamed of.

From her window, she can see the towering building that belongs to the Daily Bugle. In a perfect world, this is where she would be working. She’d do anything to work there. It’s a tower full of real stories and truthful words written by legitimate reporters. It calls to her like a siren, and yet denies her. Her editor, Max Mullins, sees her daydreaming and tells her to come into his office. He’s got a story for her.

Years ago, Max used to be friends with Jameson, but he became too fond of his peach schnapps and wound up there. Everyone calls him Maxie, even though he hates it. He shows her a photograph of Sebastian Shaw surrounded by several people. One of them is a mysterious redhead, and Max informs Irene that they know who he is, because he’s a big-time industrialist, but they have no idea about the redhead. He wants Irene to investigate this.

Irene accepts the job, and heads out to meet a few of her contacts. The beautiful blonde Priscilla knows society, but claims never to have heard of Shaw. However, a downward flicker in her eyes betrays her lie. She heads off to meet Lenny at a pool hall. He also says he’s never heard of Shaw, but he does a pretty good impersonation of Priscilla when he says it. Toby is Irene’s police contact. He doesn’t have a word on Shaw, though, by the way he’s sweating, you’d think he was in a sauna. Irene then goes to the public library and sees Mildred. She’s a records keeper, but doesn’t have anything on Shaw other than the standard ‘born here, went to school there.’ She doesn’t get the same vibe off Mildred. It seems Sebastian Shaw has been handy at keeping out of the headlines. Things are starting slowly.

Finally, Irene moves on to a bar where she meets Mickey Billings. He’s a caterer, and was working at a society event that Shaw and some of the others in the photograph were attending. He may have heard something that night, but she has yet to ascertain this. Mickey explains that he was going from person to person keeping glasses topped up, just like Irene is topping his up now. He heard Shaw talking to a thin blond man going by the name of Pierce. He remembers Shaw telling Pierce about an operation that Shaw was giving him to run. He told Pierce he was too busy as head of the club to do it himself.

This arouses Irene’s interest, and she asks what club? Mickey doesn’t know, but he did hear that the operation involved a guy that Pierce hated. Irene asks if this man was part of the operation. Mickey says he was. Mickey also recalls Shaw mentioning something about “hitting cord,” whatever that means.

Mickey is a little too drunk to be of any more use to Irene, so she returns to the Inquiring eye. She’s intrigued. She’s failed in her assignment, yet she feels elated. Instead of scandal, she had found mystery. Two men talking covertly about an operation that somehow involves a third man? “Hitting cord?” What could that possibly mean? She must investigate further.

Max calls her into his office, and Irene admits she’s found nothing on the redhead yet. However, the Pierce link could be a great story. She just needs a little more time. Max isn’t interested in such a story. He wants scandal. He wants to know about the redhead.

Irene returns to her desk and is determined to uncover the link between Pierce and Shaw. Her resolve is rewarded moments later. She receives a phone call from Mickey. He remembers now that Shaw and Pierce hadn’t talked about hitting cord - it was “hitting cable.”

Later, Irene heads to Mickey’s shabby apartment to speak with him again, face to face. She enters his apartment through a doorway that’s slightly ajar, and finds his body smoking. Mickey is dead. She remembers a car parked in the alley and wonders if someone is watching her. She makes a dash for the lift and begins to panic a little. Maybe Max will know what to do.

She returns to the Inquiring Eye, only to find the place has been devastated. Everyone there is dead, even Max Mullins. Irene can’t believe it. She notices that the place is too quiet, and doesn’t notice a small laser beam which if broken will alert someone to her presence.

She knows she has to get out of there, and she runs for the elevator. She thinks that, if she worked at the Bugle, she’d know what to do. Before she can think of anything else, a nearby window is shattered, and two men on small flying craft crash through it. They are wearing blue uniforms with red gloves and stripes. Irene steps into the elevator, which has now arrived, eyes wide open. She has to get the doors closed. As soon as they shut, gunfire pierces the metal doors, and Irene covers her head as shrapnel fills the elevator.

It arrives on the ground floor and Irene runs for the exit. The strangers are in hot pursuit. She makes for her car and drives off at speed. As she accelerates through the alleyway, she cannot see them behind her. Unfortunately, they appear in front of her. Several blasts destroy her vehicle, and it explodes in a ball of flame and black smoke.
Irene manages to crawl from the wreckage and is amazed she’s in one piece. Thank God for airbags, she thinks.

She looks up to see several of these strange men hovering above her. “The secrets of the Hellfire Club will be kept,” remarks their leader. He adds that all those who dig for answers are really digging their graves, as she will know. Irene replies that she doesn’t understand. What’s the Hellfire Club?

Before a reply is forthcoming, she notices someone behind them. He appears like a shadow; a wraith. Cable attacks the Hellfire Club soldiers with surprising swiftness. He doesn’t make a sound as he disarms one after the other. Irene compares him not to a fighter, but to an artist, painting in fire. Cable takes out each soldier until just one remains. He acquires a flying craft and chases the man until he catches up with him. He then leaps from his craft and grabs the soldier. The craft explodes upon impact with a building, and Cable takes out the last soldier.

Irene waits, unsure of who he is or what he wants. It occurs to her that he might not be a hero. Maybe he’s just another like them; someone crazy and murderous. Then, he speaks. He walks through the flaming mess and tells Irene that he knows why the Hellfire Club is hunting him, but he wants to know why they’re hunting her. He reaches his hand out and introduces himself. “You can call me Cable.” Irene knows she is safe.

Characters Involved: 


Irene Merryweather

Max Mullins

Irene’s colleagues at the Inquiring Eye

Lenny, Mildred, Priscilla and Toby

Restaurant waiter and customers

New York Public library customers

Mickey Billings

Bar customers

Hellfire Club soldiers

(in photograph)

Sebastian Shaw

Madelyne Pryor


Story Notes: 

This is the first appearance of Irene Merryweather, who would go on to be a regular cast member in this title.

The Daily Bugle isn’t exactly dedicated to printing the facts, especially considering J. Jonah Jameson’s lifelong hatred of Spider-Man and his attempts to discredit him, even if it means massaging the truth.

The redhead in the photograph is Madelyne Pryor, though not the original. She is a psionic ghost created by Nate Grey.

The Pierce that Mickey refers to is the cyborg, Donald Pierce.

Issue Information: 
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