He's old, he's hot, he's the son of Scott Summers and Madelyne Pryor (even though he looks like Cyclops' muscled granddad)... yes, I'm talking about Nathan Summers himself, Cable! Once a deep-cut character, the time-hopping hottie is about to go mainstream as he enters into the Marvel/Fox fray in the upcoming Deadpool 2. But who is Cable? Why is he involved in Deadpool 2? What are the best comics for you to read to answer these burning questions? Luckily for you I'm here to answer that with my list of the most essential and grizzled Cable comics for you to read before the sequel hits on May 18!
New Mutants #87 (1990) - Louise Simonson, Rob Liefeld, Bob Wiacek, Mike Rockwitz, and Joe Rosen
Cable's first full appearance kicked off the decade with one of what is now among the most iconic '90s comic covers of all time—one that's still being homaged to this day, and is itself an homage to the cover of Avengers #145. The issue focuses on the Mutant Liberation Front and also marks the the introduction of Cable's clone Stryfe! For fans of the Deadpool movie, this is a great read, as it also includes Rusty Collins, who's the namesake of Julian Dennison's new character in Deadpool 2.
X-Factor #68 (1991) - Whilce Portacio, Jim Lee, Chris Claremont, Art Thibert, Dana Moreshead, and Michael Heisler
Nathan Summers was around for years before Cable was even a thing, just living life as a little X-Men baby. Four-and-a-half years after his creation, he was still a baby, and wound up caught in the crossfire of a battle with the immortal evil mutant Apocalypse, infected with a life-threatening techno-organic virus that could only be cured by traveling into the future on the sentient Ship with Sister Askani. Cable wasn't created to be the grown-up Baby Nate, but this issue set into motion a sequence of events that would eventually add the grizzled mutant into the Summers clan.
X-Force #1 (1991) - Rob Liefeld, Fabian Nicieza, Brad Vancata, and Chris Eliopoulos
At one time X-Force #1 was the biggest selling comic of all time with five million copies sold, which is also why it's a perennial bargain bin fave and will never hit the speculative pricing heights of lesser selling books like New Mutants #98. This issue is a particularly good example of all the weird timeline-jumping that we tend to see in Cable books as it explores the idea of Cable's dead son from another timeline, Tyler. This issue is also interesting as it has a number of "homage" panels that reference Rob Liefeld's favorite comic, New Teen Titans.
Cable: Blood and Metal #1-2 (1992) - Fabian Nicieza, John Romita Jr., Dan Green, Brad Vancata, and Bill Oakley
Cable: Blood and Metal is not only notable because it was the grizzled grey-haired time-traveler's first solo outing, but also because it includes some really classic blocky John Romita Jr. art! This story takes place over two separate timelines, featuring Cable's team, the Six Pack, in the past, as well as present Cable grappling with clone Stryfe. A very '90s comic, this is an easy intro to the world of of the Askani'Son.
Cable #97 (2001) - David Tischman, Igor Kordey, Chris Sotomayor, and Saida Temofonte
When the entire line of X-books was relaunched in 2001 to coincide with Grant Morrison's New X-Men revolution, Cable assumed a new role as a freedom fighter. The tone was set in this issue, where Igor Kordey, a Croatian survivor of the Balkan Wars, breathed new visual life into Nathan Summers. The Cable series would run for a year under this guise until it was canceled and replaced by another book that was a continuation of this iteration of Cable, called Soldier X.
X-Men #205 (2008) - Mike Carey, Chris Bachalo, Tim Townsend, Brian Reber, and Cory Petit
Cable's purpose in the X-verse was refreshed on the last page of this issue as he's revealed to be the caretaker of baby Hope, the first mutant born after the extinction event that nearly erased all mutants, M-Day. This would establish the character's direction for the next few years, pitting him against fellow time-traveler Bishop in a quest to protect Hope and the future of all mutantkind.
Deadpool & Cable: Split Second (2015) - Fabian Nicieza, Reilly Brown, Jay Leisten, Jim Charalampidis, and Joe Sabino
The creative team of the fan fave '00s Cable & Deadpool comic, Riley Brown and Fabian Nicieza, reunited in 2015 for this Marvel digital first series. It saw the Merc with a Mouth come to blows with Nathan Christopher Charles Dayspring Askani'Son Summers over the fate of the universe when Deadpool is hired to kill the one man whose safety could save or destroy the world as we know it. With a lovely Kris Anka variant cover on #1, this is likely going to be a great recommendation for fans who're excited to see the pair from the newest Deadpool movie on the page as well as the screen.
Cable #155 (2018) - Zac Thompson, Lonnie Nadler, German Peralta, Jesus Aburtov, and Travis Lanham
The newest Cable comic comes from indie darlings Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler alongside Thanos artist German Peralta! It throws Cable's old charge Hope Summers right back into the mix, which makes us think she might be making an appearance in the future of the movies, and sees the pair battle off a familiar techo-organic creature that's hunting them down! This run has just started, so you've still got time to get in on the ground floor of its brand new sci-fi adventure. Plus it has an incredible Daniel Warren Johnson cover!
Did we miss your favorite Cable comic? Are your pouches filled with single issues about the time traveling techno-virused one? Can't wait to see Brolin bring him to life on the big screen? Let us know below!
Images: Marvel Comics
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