Cable & X-Force Omnibus, Vol. 1 is the #55 Most-Wanted Marvel Omnibus of 2017 on Tigereyes’s Secret Ballot.
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What Is It? This is a shared volume between X-Force (1991) and their leader Cable (1993), whose titles were tightly intertwined in this period from March 1994 to February 1995.
While it’s usually not productive to assume Marvel will group related titles together in this way, they’ve already set the precedent with the forthcoming Deadpool & X-Force Omnibus beginning to collect Cable’s solo series.
Past Ranking: This year is the book’s debut placement in the ballot results.
Creators: Written by Fabian Nicieza (with Glenn Alan Herdling, Scott Lobdell, Larry Hama, and Jeph Loeb III) with pencils by Tony Daniel and inks by Kevin Conrad on X-Force (with Terry Dodson and Paul Pelletier) and army of artists on Cable and the crossover issues.
Probable Contents: Collects X-Force (1991) #32-43 & Annual 3 and Cable (1993) #9-20 along with crossovers into New Warriors #45-46, Excalibur #82, and X-Factor #106, and Wolverine #85.
This is a slim, unsurprising set of contents that cover just a year of storytelling. All of the contents have been previously collected across four volumes (as well as five issues from the Phalanx Covenant oversize hardcover). In fact, it would make a future Volume 2 a little simpler if this volume covered a bit more, but a major direction change in both titles after Age of Apocalypse makes that unlikely.
See the full map in Oversize X-Men: A map of every existing omnibus, plus what’s missing (Part 2: 1991 to 2001). Note that Cable #20 is part of the “Legion Quest” crossover, but has already been collected once without the direct crossover issues.
Can you read it right now? Yes! You need to pick up X-Force: Child’s Play, X-Force: Phalanx Covenant, Cable Classic, Volume 2, and Cable Classic, Volume 3. Find out more in the Guide to X-Force and Guide to Cable.
You could easily subtitle this period of X-Force and Cable “Family Matters,” as the runs of both books are deeply concerned with the connections between long-serving teammates in X-Force and generations of family in Cable.
X-Force begins this period with one of its more entertaining line-ups – Cannonball, Boomer, Richtor, Shatterstar, Warpath, and Siryn – plus frequent co-stars Cable and Domino.
It’s a truly delightful cast of characters, a trio of whom would later become mainstays in Peter David’s X-Factor, which plays out the theme of Richtor and Shatterstar’s unlikely friendship that developed in these issues.
This run begins with a four-issue “Child’s Play” crossover with New Warriors. We tend to have a modern view of crossovers as disconnected plays for increased sales, but that wasn’t necessarily the case with this Fabian Nicieza’s story.
“Child’s Play” not only mashed up Marvel’s two post-teens teams, but it kept a lot of other plots in motion as well. It picks up the plot of the Gamesmaster from Uncanny X-Men and Excalibur, continues the return of Moonstar, briefly brings erstwhile New Mutants Karma and Magma back into the fold after a few years of quiet, and introduces Paige Guthrie’s mutant powers as part of the lead-up to “Phalanx Covenant.”
That’s a lot of content in just four issues! It’s an indicator of just how much Nicieza was writing the teams as families at that point – their super-heroics (like a subsequent bash with Nimrod) were just window-dressing for personal drama (like Cannonball’s struggle with his seeming immortality).
I have to say, reviewing these issues just made me fall more deeply in love with early-90s X-Men. There are so many rewarding character moments and nods to continuity tangled up in all the X-TREME gear and T&A from the female cast. If you grew up reading these comics, it’s hard to imagine aversion of theX-Men you could love even more.
For that same reason, this content doesn’t make for a very exciting omnibus. While some of the X-Force stories stand on their own, every one of them continue a theme from the prior two omnibuses (as when the team tracks down a savage, mournful Feral in NYC, or when Warpath confronts his former teacher, White Queen). It’s very much the middle of an ongoing story.
Unfortunately, it’s a story that ends in the middle. Nicieza drives the plot threads to a delirious high with a final confrontation with the Mutant Liberation Front, but the fight is cut off just after a stunning reveal due to the M’Kraan Crystal swallowing up reality as we know it to spit out The Age of Apocalypse. The next issue picks up with a new writer (Jeph Loeb) and the confrontation already resolved.
Throughout it all, Cable is the team’s rudder, but we don’t get too much of his inner life or story aside from flirtations with the always-lucky Domino (described in #39 as “Mother Theresa by way of Ripley from the movie Aliens“).
Adding the issues of his own title solves that, and gives this book some added dimension.
Cable was still a relatively new character at this point, so we get to see him through a lot of firsts – including his opening encounter with his time-crossed half-sister Rachel Summers and her Excalibur teammates as they team up with Magneto’s Acolytes to track Omega Red.
The story is every bit as fun as it sounds, especially with penciller W. C. Wyman aping Andy Kubert’s style with panache.
A follow-up plot with D’Spayre that reflects Cable’s status as the son of the Goblin Queen feels like filler amongst the other strong stories in these runs, but it continues the theme of Cable’s lineage into a series of stories that find him connecting with his father Cyclops after his true parentage was revealed during “X-Cutioner’s Song” (and after Cyclops’s wedding to Jean in X-Men #30) as well as tangling with his own time-traveling son, Tyler Dayspring.
The Cable issues are a much stronger read divorced from the context of their preceding run than the X-Force issues, even if I took a lot more delight in reviewing X-Force. This run of Cable offers interesting context on the main beneath the guns and the techo-organic enhancements.
Will we see this omnibus in 2018? Maybe.
This is the obvious next X-Force omnibus and maybe the second most-obvious Cable omnibus after his 2008 volume.
The question is when Marvel will feel moved to release it. Click for minor Deadpool 2 casting spoilers
Would I recommend buying it? Not unless you’ve already bought the X-Force, Vol. 1 and Deadpool & X-Force omnibuses. This material isn’t incredibly thrilling all on its own.
Cable & X-Force Reading Order
- Child’s Play: X-Force (1991) #32, New Warriors (1990) #45, X-Force #33, New Warriors #46
- X-Force (1991) #34
- The Killing Field: Cable (1993) #9-11
- Cable #12-14
- X-Force (1991) #35-37
- Cable #15
- Phalanx Covenant – Life Signs: X-Factor #106, X-Force (1991) #38, Excalibur (1988) #82
- Phalanx Covenant – Final Sanction: Wolverine #85, Cable #16
- X-Force #39
- The Dark Ride: Cable #17-19
- X-Force (1991) #40-41, Annual 3, 42-43
- Cable #20
The 2017 Most-Wanted Marvel Omnibus Secret Ballot Results