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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Legends Revealed #201

This is the two-hundred and first in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous two hundred.

I’m taking a special approach to the column this week, with a special “What’s the deal with Cable’s origin(s)?” theme week.

Let’s begin!

I noticed over the years that I have collected a great deal of various questions involving the creation and development of the character Cable. And since answering ONE of these questions is often, in effect, answering all the OTHERS, I’ve decided to just devote one full column just to questions about Cable and answer them all at once!

COMIC LEGEND: One of the names suggested for Cable before he debuted in New Mutants was Commander-X.

STATUS: More or Less True

COMIC LEGEND: Louise Simonson co-created Cable.

STATUS: Depends on whether Ross Andru co-created the Punisher (I’m leaning towards False on both counts).

COMIC LEGEND: Cable was originally intended to be Ahab.

STATUS: False

COMIC LEGEND: Cable was originally intended to be Nathan Summers.

STATUS: False

COMIC LEGEND: Stryfe was originally a mystery to everyone, the creative team included.

STATUS: True

COMIC LEGEND: At one point, Cable was intended to be Stryfe!

STATUS: True.

When you look at the history of most of the most famous comic book characters, their introductory story very often also includes a basic origin for the character. Whether it be just a panel mention (Superman) or a whole story devoted to the character’s origin (Flash, Green Lantern, Fantastic Four, Spider-Man), either way, you have a good idea of the character’s origin by the time the character has been established (Batman is a notable exception – there all we got was “socialite dresses up as Bat to fight crime”).

This is not always the case, though, and it especially seemed to not be something that was not often the case when it came to the X-Men. In X-Men #1, the reader knows little about the origins of Cyclops, Iceman, Beast, Angel, Marvel Girl and particularly the villain Magneto (as I noted awhile back in one of my Cool Comic Book Moments, it would be years before we would ever see Magneto’s FACE, let alone an origin for the guy!).

As time went by, this became a bit of a theme for the X-Men, particularly its most famous member, Wolverine. While Len Wein might have had an origin in mind for the character, it did not translate to the page and Wolverine did not have a proper origin for decades. Another popular character without an origin for a long time was Rogue. Chris Claremont soon became well known for adding a great deal of mystery to his characters, and it might very well be a major factor in the great success of the X-Men.

So when Cable was introduced in 1990, the only thing really locked down about the guy was that he was a time traveler from the future (and even that was not shown in the actual comics for some time). And since that was the only thing locked down, he ended up going through a great deal of changes over the years on the way to his “definitive” origin.

But before we even get that far, we should look at the behind the scenes “origin” of the character.

An interesting discussion can be made as to who is the “creator” of a comic book character under particular circumstances. In many ways, people tend to lean towards “whoever the first people to write and draw a character in a comic, they’re the creator” as a rule. However, we know such a rule is not always true, as Chris Claremont and John Byrne, for instance, had nothing to do with the creation of Dazzler (as discussed in this installment of Comic Book Legends Revealed), yet Uncanny X-Men #130 was the first printed appearance of the character, and it was written and drawn by Claremont and Byrne.

If you then do not agree that “whoever first wrote and drew the character in a comic is the creator” (and I think that’s the better way to look at it), then things obviously get a lot trickier.

Ross Andru is generally credited as one of the co-creators of the Punisher, along with Gerry Conway and John Romita, Sr. I believe that’s how it is on Punisher’s wikipedia page, for instance. However, Conway came up with the character (and yes, you can certainly snarkily dispute that if you’re a Mack Bolan fan) and John Romita, Sr. designed the character (based on sketches by Conway). Ross Andru was the first person to draw the Punisher in a comic book. Is Ross Andru a co-creator of the Punisher?

Your answer to that question would inform your opinion as to what Louise Simonson’s role in the creation of Cable was.

The genesis of the character came generally from editor Bob Harras determining that the New Mutants needed to shake things up, and what Harras wanted was a new leader for the group, someone a lot different than Professor X.

The book’s writer at the time, Simonson, knew of this desire by Harras, and her thoughts on the subject instantly went towards the idea of a military leader.

At the same time, Harras separately went to the book’s new artist, Rob Liefeld. Tasked with the idea of coming up with a new leader for the team (and perhaps even with the suggestion by Harras of “a bionic eye might look cool”), Liefeld began sketching out ideas.

Liefeld already was brimming with ideas for the book, and his initial sketches for the New Mutants included a great many brand new characters, including one that never even made it into the book (as seen in this previous installment of Comic Book Legends Revealed).

One of his sketches was for a character with a bionic eye who Liefeld intended as the new leader of the New Mutants, a time traveling soldier from the future.

Harras approved these sketches, and the character was to be added to the book.

Various names were discussed – Harras suggested either Quinn or Quentin (most likely the former, but the latter has been reported, as well), Liefeld initially had the name “Cyber” on the sketches and Simonson, while writing the scripts for his first appearance referred to the character as Commander-X (Simonson later pointed out that she was using the name “Commander-X” merely as a placeholder until an official name was chosen – Liefeld did not know this, though, so when he read the script, he thought that Simonson planned on using the name Commander-X). Liefeld eventually suggested calling the character Cable. That’s, of course, the name that ended up being used.

Okay, so Liefeld came up with the design of the character, the general back story for the character and the name of the character. When Cable made his first appearance in New Mutants #87, the story was written by Simonson and drawn by Liefeld.

Does that make Simonson the co-creator of Cable, by being the first person to write the character in a comic? She, too, was thinking of a militaristic leader for the X-Men, but she was not working with Liefeld on the concept.

I lean towards no, but again, it depends on how you view these things.

Stryfe, the arch-enemy of Cable, also debuted in the same issue of New Mutants as Cable. Again, Stryfe was from that same set of sketches by Liefeld as Cable (as was most of the Mutant Liberation Front that Sryfe led).

While Cable had the general “time traveler from the future” thing down, Stryfe was even MORE mysterious, and even more up in the air. Really, the creators were totally unsure of Stryfe’s origins. In fact, one idea Liefeld had was that, for a major twist, it would be revealed that Stryfe was really a woman under all that armor.

However, ultimately it was determined by Liefeld that Stryfe would BE Cable! That was the big revelation at the end of New Mutants #100.

Liefeld’s theory was that since Cable was a time-traveler, who knows “when” we are seeing Cable in HIS timeline. So we would then see him slowly descend into madness and become the nemesis of his own, younger self. It’s a clever approach.

That particular approach was sidetracked (not totally thrown off, but sidetracked, at least) when Liefeld learned that Bob Harras, along with Whilce Portacio and Jim Lee, had determined Cable’s origin on their own, apart from Liefeld, the creator of the character.

Harras, Portacio and Lee had come up with the idea that Nathan Summers, son of Cyclops and Madelyne Pryor, was going to be sent to the future and he would grow up to be Cable.

Liefeld did not like this idea at all, but he was stuck with it. He and Fabian Nicieza (who by that point had become the new scripter/co-writer on New Mutants with Liefeld) determined that, okay, the whole Stryfe as Cable thing could still work under this change, it would just be that Cable was a CLONE of Nathan Summers and Stryfe was Nathan Summers.

Ultimately, that would be turned down, but not definitively for quite some time (see this installment of Comic Book Legends Revealed to see how long it took before even THAT part of Cable’s origin was nailed down). When Cable’s origin finally saw print, he was, indeed, the original Nathan Summers and Stryfe was a clone. And that is the status quo still today.

Okay, what does that leave?

I guess that just leaves Ahab.

Ahab was a bad guy who was also from the future, and in a crossover storyline in the 1990 Annuals of Uncanny X-Men, X-Factor, New Mutants and the Fantastic Four, Ahab meets Cable and the following takes place…

So, was Ahab ever intended to be Cable?

No.

First off, that issue was written by Claremont, who really had no dealings with Cable. Secondly, as Fabian Nicieza has confirmed in an interview since, that was just an idea by Harras that Harras thought would be interesting, so he had it added to the story last-minute, just to throw some more uncertainty out there for the fans (as a red herring, of sorts). It was never intended to be anything but that.

I believe that’s just about that. If there’s any more Cable questions, I’ll gladly add to this, but I think that really is all there is.

EDITED TO ADD: I see that there ARE some questions still! Reader Carl says:

Gee, I’d always heard Cable was supposed be the future self of Cannonball.

Honestly, Carl, that might very well have been something Liefeld considered at one point or another. Like I said above, besides “time traveler from the future,” not a lot was set in stone with regards to Cable’s origin (except that Liefeld did not think he was Nathan Summers), so I could certainly see it as a real possibility that Liefeld once considered that. I’ve never seen him specifically comment on it, though. However, what we CAN say is that Louise Simonson never intended that for Cable, as she apparently was rumored to at one point. Liefeld might have at one point or another, but Simonson never intended for Cable to be an older version of Cannonball.

Okay, again, any more Cable question, I’ll gladly work them in!

Thanks to various interviews by various folks over the years for the information provided here (Fabian Nicieza, in particular – what’s really amazing to me is how actually CONSISTENT most of the recollections are – it’s surprising how, say, everyone concedes that yes, Liefeld sketched out Cable first), but the number one resource by far was Rob Liefeld, who was beautifully detailed on the origins of Cable in a column he used to write called “Robservations.” In one of the installments of said column (about six-seven years ago), he went behind the scenes with Cable, and I’m extremely grateful for the insight. Thanks to reader Baron Von Glazer for telling me about Simonson’s intentions vis a vis the name “Commander X” and thanks to my pal, Justin, for supplying what name was on the initial sketches of Cable. Also, thanks to all the various readers who have asked me Cable questions over the years – too many to name them all!

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Thanks to the Grand Comic Book Database for this week’s covers!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is cronb01@aol.com.

As you hopefully know by now, Plume Books (a division of Penguin Books) is publishing a collection of my Comic Book Legends Revealed columns (half expanded “best of”/half new stuff) and it is due out on April 28th.

Here is the cover by artist Mickey Duzyj. I think he did a very nice job (click to enlarge)…

If you’d like to pre-order it, you can use the following code if you’d like to send me a bit of a referral fee…

Was Superman a Spy?: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed

See you next week!

125 Comments

Gee, I’d always heard Cable was supposed be the future self of Cannonball.

Yes, of course Simonson is the co-creator. Writing is not “ideas”. Ideas are a dime a dozen. They’re worthless. In screenwriting, if a producer comes up with an idea and then hires a screenwriter to implement that idea, the producer gets zero creator credit for that idea: none. That’s because an “idea” doesn’t actually become a “creation” until the rubber hits the road and someone figures out how this idea works on paper. Simonson wrote all of Cable’s original dialogue and described his initial behavior. That’s what a character is. That’s what defines the character, not how many pouches he has or how comically big his gun is. If Cable was was cool now, and if he’s still popular today (though both are debatable) it’s because Simonson made him interesting.

There always seems to be way too much Liefeld in these columns. I don’t know what it means, but it means something!

The should have said “If Cable was cool then…”

@ Matt Bird- I don’t buy that. I think you could argue that Simonson was instrumental in the character’s development, but she didn’t have anything to do with the character’s conception or design. And really, for the first several years of his existence, Cable was simply a big dude with guns, a bionic eye and a bunch of pouches. The personality came many years later. Weezie’s great, but Rob gets the blame…um, credit for Cable.

Your logic would lable Claremont and Byrne as Wolverine’s creators, and I don’t think anyone would argue that.

And Ahab turned out to be…? Never read this story, someone could fill me in?

And Ahab turned out to be…? Never read this story, someone could fill me in?

They basically invented a character and had that guy turn out to be Ahab.

Rory Campbell, I believe his name was. He was a supporting character in Excalibur.

>>There always seems to be way too much Liefeld in these columns. I don’t know what it means, but it means something!

It means, among other things, that I’m guaranteed to scrolldownreallyfast.

Michael Mayket

April 3, 2009 at 8:04 am

I’m surprised Rob’s not here yet.

Try explaining all this to a non-comics reader. If the character’s history couldn’t be summed up in, say, a 2-hour movie, the character is non-accessible.

No no no, I’m saying the first writer to write a character and the first artist to draw that character are always the co-creators, thus Len Wein and Herb Trimpe co-created Wolverine, always and forever. And Simonson co-created Cable and Claremont co-created Dazzler.

Where it gets tricky is when you have inside knowledge that one artist first drew a character, even though another artist drew their first appearance in an actual comic book, as Brian says was the case with the Dazzler and the Punisher. That muddies the issue of which artist is the co-creator, but, in terms of writing, I think it’s clear.

Cable is proof that comics are hardly ever the credit (or blame!) of ONE person; it’s not just the writers, it’s the writers+artists+editors+ possibly other people. Sill, if I *had* to finger one of the above people as Cable’s creator, I would have to pick Liefield: not only he designed the character, he named him. Since Harras did not contribute much beyond “military leader from the future” (a pretty vague description) I don’t hold him as the creator. Same goes for Simonson.

This is, of course, assuming Liefield is telling the truth…

Cable is also proof that most of the absurdly convoluted mess that X-Men’s history has become is not because of too many stories, but because of creative lack of foresight. “Hey, since we are getting rid of Scott’s baby, let’s make HIM Cable!” Sheesh.

Btw, the baby thing always annoyed me, because Cyclops effectively just handed him to a STRANGER who *claimed* they could save him in the future. Even if you accept that it was a decision made under desperate circumstances, wouldn’t you have immediately looked for some way to CONFIRM it- like, say, Reed Richards?? But nooo, the X-Men live in their own corner of the Marvel Universe, the rest of it be damned…

I must admit that when I came to the end of the column, I still wasn’t sure what the actual origin of Cable was.

He was a character I disliked and avoided for so long (like all the big gun guys) that the last origin I knew was the “son of Scott and Maddy,” even though that could no longer be true.

Matt, I believe you might need to add Jazzy Johnny Romita in on the creation of Wolvie, because he drew up preliminary designs for the costume, and Trimpe went off those sketches as far as I know (info from the one-shot reprint of Hulk 180-182 Incredible Hulk Vs. Wolverine).

Well, it’s not like they had a date to go to. All they knew was that the little boy who’s mommy and daddy called by different names was taken to the future. Considering all of the different futures they’ve seen, it might be a little tough to find the right one.

Cable was Kyle Reese from the Terminator, just older and on steroids, no? The original character pitch seems lean towards that.

My youthful comics reading coincides with the kewl 90’s X-Men, so I’ll always have a soft spot for Cable (and to a lesser extent, Gambit), and the reason for this is Fabian Nicieza. Recently, I re-read the original Cable mini-series, Nicieza’s opening run on the ongoing series, and then the first year of Cable/Deadpool, and I noticed what a consistent, thoughtful evolution of the character there is under his pen (and how little of that has to do with the convoluted X-baby origin story).

Though as soon as another writer handles the character (Loeb, Weinberg, Tieri, in particular), the character’s motivations and relationships get garbled and behavior shifts – making it seem like Cable is just a collection of kewl affectations.

I suppose I’m reiterating the old saw that there are no bad characters, just Terrible, Terrible Writers and Editors.

Fascinating read, thanks for the article.

The thing that stuck out the most for me was that it was Harris, Portacio and Jim Lee came up with Cable’s origin without consulting Liefeld. You’d think they at least want to consult a character’s (co-)creator on the character’s origin, especially if the creator is still working on the character.

I generally think that Cable’s been blessed with the most consistant stream of good writers over thelast 15 years or so. With a quick Loeb blip (though even those issues aren’t terrible).

Nicieza, Loeb, Robinson, Casey, Weinberg, Tischmann, Nicieza, and even the current book is pretty good.

Lots of good comics in there. It’s not the character or his origins but the talent working on the character that matters. That’s the moral.

You know, I always thought the “intro without origins” thing was a quirk unique to the “All new, All Different” X-Men of Wein and Claremont. But now that you point it out, you’re right, they’ve had that style since day 1.

Also, minor grammatical nitpick:

This is not always the case, though, and it especially seemed to not be something that was not often the case when it came to the X-Men.

Because of the use of double negative, I think this sentence ended up saying the opposite of what you intended.

I feel dirty for saying this, but Liefeld’s original intent of the character was far more interesting. Having Cable be Cyclops’ son from the future made the books more convoluted than necessary. I hate the need for the X-books to make EVERYTHING connected. I remember a few years ago Claremont revealed Gateway and Bishop were related. And isn’t Widget Kitty Pryde from another dimension?

I’d probably actually like Cable if he were a stand-alone character as opposed to be tied down to the Summers clan.

@Sijo:

I actually really liked that X-Factor story where Cyclops hands the woman the baby.

As for asking some other superhero for help, well that’s something that has to be conveniently forgotten in most comics or else Batman would always be calling Superman to help him out (just to mention one example)

This explains much: I read all of the X-books in the 90s, and started off with a distrust of Cable (I was a huge new mutants fan, and the entrance of Cable was a change toward a direction I didn’t like). I had always associated that garbled origin with Rob Lifield, unfairly characterizing him as the source of the confusion. Lifield’s original orign actually makes sense, and is clever; what was put in place is an example of exactly what’s wrong with the X-franchise.
You’d think that a shared universe would have better controls to keep everyone working from the same playbook…

This actually reminds me of another rumor I heard a while ago. A buddy of mine was telling me that once he read somewhere that at one point Apocalypse was intended to be the third Summers brother. Anyone know about that one?

“Another popular character without an origin for a long time was Rogue. ”

Not just that, she even hadn’t a friggin’ NAME for over a decade! I think it took the X-Men movie to force Marvel to at least name her!

Has there ever been any explanation for that?

Best,
Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

Yeah, because Rucka, Brubaker, Loeb, Miller, Dini, Moore, Morrison, Grant, Robinson, Moench, Starlin, O’Neill, Moldoff, Fox, and Finger all suck.

What are the standard contractual definitions of character creation for the big superhero publishers? I glean that it’s along the line of ‘everything you create belongs to us,’ but I would think it would address who gets credit for a new character.

When I first got into comics during the height of the X-Men’s 90s popularity, Cable was one of my favorite characters, and I remember dying to find out more pieces of his past, and loving his connection to Cyclops (another favorite).

To this day Cable remains a favorite character of mine for purely nostalgic reasons, as he recalls a fondly remembered time in my life (the birth of my love of comics) and represents in a lot of ways what I love about super hero comics: the kind of convoluted, batsh*t insane back stories involving time travelers and clones and such that you can only find therein.

Which is my long-winded way of saying I especially enjoyed this week’s column. In particular, I had no idea that when New Mutants 100 saw print, the intention was for Stryfe to be Cable from a later point in his life, ala Kang/Rama Tut/Immortus. Very interesting.

I’d also heard the “Cable was supposed to be Cannonball from the future” rumor, and to my surprise, it actually makes sense. The new mutants were getting dumped and abandoned by everybody at the time, and Sam was having a really hard time being the leader. The idea (I thought) was that Sam everybody but Sam got killed, or the world went all Days-of-Future-Past on them, and Sam felt that if he’d just been tougher in the 90s (with more pouches) then everything would have been fine. So he goes back in time, as Cable, to toughen his younger self up.

Badspock: Ha! I didn’t know that– there you go, so Wolverine is another example where you have to know the backstory to know that someone else drew him first.

Did the name “Cable” mean anything? Was it because he was a cyborg and had cables inside him? Was it supposed to be his last name, like Matt Cable? Was it because he was always watching Sportscenter inside his artificial eye? (I’ve probably only read two comics that had Cable in them)

Try explaining all this to a non-comics reader. If the character’s history couldn’t be summed up in, say, a 2-hour movie, the character is non-accessible.

Baby gets sick, goes to future for cure. Comes back as an adult.

Peter David made an interesting argument a long time ago that Marvel Comics could be considered the creator of Cable, since it was employees of Marvel, working as such, who came up with the various disparate elements of the character over a period of years. Dunno if I buy it, but it certainly draws the lines between the Lee/Kirby process and this.

I have to side with the argument that credits Simonson as a co-creator. Liefeld is many things, but a writer he is not, and a character is more than just a model sheet. Liefeld created Cable the image, but Simonson created Cable the person. The Ross Andru analogy doesn’t work either, since he was drawing from John Romita Jr.’s character sketches, whereas Simonson thought up Cable’s personality out of her own head. So, as Punisher would be said to be co-created by Conway and Romita, with Conway being the primary contributor, so would Cable be co-created by Liefeld and Simonson, with Liefeld being the primary contributor.

The Cable-as-Stryfe thing could have worked, but I would have had Cable be Stryfe’s future self, just to shake it up.

Matt: I don’t think Liefeld ever came up for a reason for the name Cable, but Nicieza or Loeb or somebody half-heartedly tried to justify it by calling him a “cable” linking the past, present and future in a narration box.

I’d say that being the first writer means at least co-creator, but the first artist doesn’t if someone else did the character sketches. Simonson didn’t create the background, but she did create his speech patterns and other mannerisms.

Tom Fitzpatrick

April 3, 2009 at 10:30 am

Oooooooh, big time headache.

Good thing I skipped all the Cable stuff over the years.
Except when Igor Kordey drew him.

Had no one else (but me) heard (or thought) that at the time that Cyclops and Maddie had baby “Nathan” that when he was sent into the future that he would eventually (ala the whole KANG, IMMORTUS, RAMA TUT thing) go back in time to the PAST and become “Nathaniel” Richards; the father of Reed Richards!?

I remember it being a big theory.
That would link the X-Men and FF in strange and weird ways.

He’s be the time-traveling back-bone of the M.U.

No?
Just me then?
It was MY theory at the time, and perhaps, I just told it to enough people that I eventually heard it come back to me later.

~P~

Has it ever been explained why his bionic arm sometimes switches sides? :)

Interesting article. Never been much into Cable, but this kind of arcana is always a bit of fun.

Baby gets taken to the future, gets raised by his father and the woman his mother was cloned from, whose minds time-traveled to the future into nearly-identical bodies, to battle the villain who made him sick in the past. Baby ends up leading a movement started by the daughter of dad and the woman from whom mom was cloned, albeit from another universe. Baby eventually comes back in time to a point earlier than when he went to the future; starts a team of mutants opposed to his own clone.

If they’d stuck with “kid from the future,” my head would hurt less.

By the way, at the rate Marvel keeps doing these things, I predict that everyone in the Marvel Universe will eventually be revealed to be a future version of everyone else. :)

^^^And Scott Summers’ baby.

How funny to see that this is Comic book Legend #201 and Nathan Summers’ first appearance was in Uncanny X-men 201! This was a great read!

Has no-one mentioned that X-men 201 was the first appearance of Cable?(as a baby)

Oh , they have. Damn page refresh.

Not to get too off-topic (topic is about character creation, after all), the Punisher mention is interesting, in that most of the comics, and all the movies, fail to mention the REAL creator: Don Pendleton. He created “The Executioner” for a series of “men’s adventure” paperback novels several decades back, and the character and his various spin-offs are still being published as far as I know. I didn’t care too much for the “War Against The Mafia” background of the stories, but I do remember in an early appearance of the Punisher, Don Pendleton was credited with at least the inspiration for the character. If you compare the two, they have similar origins (family members slaughtered by criminals), and equipment (tons of guns and launchers of all types, and the War Wagon, just to mention two). I also can’t find any mention of Don P. on the Punisher’s ‘wiki’ page, but perhaps it’s felt that enough time has passed, that the similarities between the two franchises are inconsequential. Just my two cents.

Now, excuse me while I go create a character called Flying-Mouse Guy, whose parents….excuse me, orphaned sister and brother are killed by a criminal…wait, a crooked cop, and he grows up to be an avenging vigilante, with a butler….I mean, older best friend by the name of Alfr….errr, Albert. Yeah, Albert! That’s it! Cya…..

I want to see the alternate Earth where a young Nathan was raised by his parents to have serious identity issues because each called him by a different name. I swear it was really confusing for a time to hear Scott referring to “Christopher” over in X-Factor, while Maddie’s talking about “Nathan” in Uncanny X-Men.

By the way what’s Cable’s full name

Nathan Christopher Summers Dayspring Askanison? Which of his last names comes first?

Oh, nothing can make me giggle like seeing Rob Liefield art.

Seriously…that Stryfe design is so ornate, it’s baroque…bordering on rococo. He looks like Liberace dipped in chrome. Most artists would have stopped before adding the seven spikes to his shoulderpads…but then most artists aren’t Rob Liefeld!

Why does Cable have scars over his good eye and not his bionic eye?

Jeff Albertson

April 3, 2009 at 12:18 pm

I have to agree that Louise Simonson counts as a co-creator of the comic book character Cable, if not the visual. The character is more than the visual. It seems clear, though, that Liefield does not totally share that view. Look at how he publishes rescripted versions of his Youngblood 1 story — the visual is the his focus, not the story.

As for the complaints of him having a complicated backstory, name any character who has been appearing regularly for that many years who can’t also be described in confusing terms by recounting selected details of their past. You only need to know the details if the writer of the current story wants to refer to them.

My real compliant is that the X-Men franchise uses too many characters with similar backgrounds – Rachel, Cable and Bishop are all from the future. One would have been enough in my opinion.

Jeff Albertson

April 3, 2009 at 12:19 pm

Uh, that’s Cable having a complicated backstory, not Rob Liefield, although I suppose he has a complicated backstory, too.

Go look at the Star Wars series by Marvel. there was a character there that was a cable lookalike right down to the metal arm an glowing eye and scars.

Hey Brian,
Thanks for clearing up a line that has bugged me for years! I always wondered what the rational at the time of writing was behind Ahab saying “see someone you know” in that UXM Annual!

Now if only I could figure out where the back-up story from the same annual fits into the timeline of the main crossover….

Nathan Christopher Summers Dayspring Askanison?

You forgot one: Nathan Christopher Charles Summers…Dayspring Askani’son.

I remember reading in some comic that baby Nathan was named for his grandfathers: Christopher (Cyclops’ dad), Charles Xavier (Cyclops’ figurative father), and Nathan (presumably Madelyne’s father) which might account for why the baby was referred to differently by his parents way back when.

I can’t believe that page went to print with Wildside saying “are” where he means “our”.

That should have gotten somebody a pay cut. That’s elementary school english!

I love the X-Men to death, but even I admit their origins and back stories get so convoluted. Then again, that was always part of the fun. That’s my favorite Liefeld stuff, his New Mutants run. I, ofcourse, love Art Adams on the X-Men annual.

To be fair to Scott, he only had a couple of minutes to decide before Baby Nathan and Ship would die. There wasn’t enough time to ask Reed for help.

With the possible exception X-man, I suspect Cable is about the most convoluted character who has had any kind of great success. I have to say, the more recent version of Cable has been great – everythign through from the final 2 arcs of the original Cable, through Solider X and Cable and Deadpool has been great fun, the first two arcs of C/Dp particularly are amoung ym all time favourites.

As for complex character relationships: I was actually having a conversation about how intertwined the whole MU, even if you only include characters who have ever directly influenced 616. Starting with the Summers (Cyclops, Corsair, Havok, Vulcan, X-man, Stryfe, Rachel Grey, Genesis) you go through Hyperstorm and they all related to the Richardes and Storms, the Shi’ar royal family through Deathbird, and thus Xavier, Juggernaut (by adoption) plus Cassandra Nova and Legion.

If Havok had married Polaris it would be far worse though – that would have got all the Maximoffs involved (through Lornas bizarre retcon into being Magnetos child). Then you get the Inhumans through Pietro, through Nocturne you connect in Mystiques clan including Rogue, Nightcrawler and Sabertooth via Graydon Creed. As Scarlet Witch was married to Vision you have to also include Ultron, the Pyms, the original human torch and Jocasta. You could arguably also include Wonderman as a semi ‘father’ of Vision, and Clor with Pym as a kind of father, and thus the Norse Gods too.

Which is one of the reasons the MU is very very odd.

Everyone always forgets that Cable actually first appeared in a one panel cameo at the end of New Mutants #86, not in #87. In fact his face is shown sending the Mutant Liberation Front off on a mission, which suggests that the idea that Cable and Stryfe are one and the same was the plan from the beginning (as in retrospect its clear that it was an unmasked Stryfe who was really appearing). The revelation in New Mutants #100 shouldnt have ben a revelation at all.

Daniel O' Dreams

April 3, 2009 at 1:16 pm

@Teebore: Presumably Maddies “Father” Nathaniel was some kind of memory implant from Mr. Sinister (who I believe is also named Nathaniel) but yeah that still works he is her creator.

I love how they not only gave Cable the most convoluted back story imaginable (complete with evil clone) but then have an ALTERNATE UNIVERSE version of him show up. He’s a one man X-men greatest hits!
I never read Age Of Apocalypse why would Nathan Grey be named that did Mr. Sinister have any connection to his origin?

Walt Simonson has addressed the rumor that Louise intended for Cable to be a future Cannonball on the CBR forums a few years ago:

http://forums.comicbookresources.com/showpost.php?p=3415277&postcount=26

Daniel: Check out X-Man #-1, which was reprinted in one of the Complete Age of Apocalypse collections. When Sinister creates Nate, he comments that he should be named “Nathan” after himself, but “Grey” after his mother. Which was an odd, odd retcon, because he wasn’t named “Nate Grey” until he came to 616.

And now I’ve just remembered that Nate Grey almost hooked up with Madelyne Pryor. How convoluted would THAT have been?

Alex: Don’t forget that Reed’s father was an ancestor of Rama-Tut/Kang/Immortus, so you get to bring that whole line in there.

Daniel O' Dreams

April 3, 2009 at 1:32 pm

Oh I didn’t know he was created by Sinister. I guess I just should’ve looked him up on wikipedia. LOL Thanks for answering my stupid question.

Bert Duckwall

April 3, 2009 at 1:33 pm

Valance the Hunter was the Star Wars character that Liefeld ripped off. He was a cyborg that hated droids because he had to have robotic parts to be alive. I believe he was a former Stormtrooper that survived a Rebel bombing run. He hunts down the boy who liked droids (Luke Skywalker) and he then meets his end in a duel with Darth Vader on a lava planet. This was all around 1979.

I’ve got a real softspot for the early Cable stuff in New Mutants: the title had got really bogged down with some (IMO) awful art. Liefield was like a breath of fresh air at the time.

IIRC one of the names considered for Cable was Cybrid – see the Marvel Age issue with the Cable sketches in (which I think is the one after the issues with the rest of the NM sketches)

Brian – any chance we can look into why (given that we already had Cable) Marvel had to cook up such a similar character in Bishop so soon ? Was it a case of someone looking at Cable and going “I’ll have me some of that time travelling mutant with guns thing” or was there some better reason ?

Mike Loughlin

April 3, 2009 at 2:01 pm

Not only did Cable not have an origin or name when he was introduced, he didn’t have any powers! I remember an X-Factor issue (during that Genosha crossover- X-Tinction Agenda, I think) in which all the mutants’ powers were negated. Cable could no longer control his bionic arm. “Controlling your bionic arm” may be the stupidest mutant power ever.

Of course, he was revealed to be a telepath/ telekinetic a few months later. why couldn’t he show the New Mutants these powers? I remember Domino saying he’d have to answer tough questions. I can see the conversation now:

“You have mental powers? You MUST be Cyclops’ baby sent into the future returned to our time! We’re onto you now!”

Vito Carlucci

April 3, 2009 at 2:44 pm

Is there an urban legend that explains what the h*ll is going on with the left side of that Cable splash page from NM #100?

Michael Mayket

April 3, 2009 at 3:09 pm

@Mike Loughlin –

Okay, I’m laughing out loud. I hadn’t thought of that in years… the part where Cable had to keep his telekinesis a secret. It makes no sense at all, but at the time it all happened I was too young and stupid to not just think it was cool!

@Matt Bird:
“Simonson is the co-creator. (—) That’s because an “idea” doesn’t actually become a “creation” until the rubber hits the road and someone figures out how this idea works on paper. Simonson wrote all of Cable’s original dialogue and described his initial behavior. That’s what a character is.”

So, according to this logic, a character is not really “created” until he/she appears in a story? That doesn’t make a lick of sense to me…
I like Simonson. She is a great writer. But she is NOT the co-creator of Cable. She was handed a character design, named Cable, some vague description of “military guy, possibly from the future.” Exactly what did she contribute beyond that?
If you want to argue that the writer who “defines” or “fleshes out” the character is the co-creator, I’d be more inclined to call Nicieza the co-creator. Except he’s not. He wasn’t there at the beginning. He’s not the co-creator of Cable any more than Alan Moore is the co-creator of the Joker or Claremont is the co-creator of Wolverine.

@Rob:
“Why does Cable have scars over his good eye and not his bionic eye?”

Because the skin on the left (unscarred) side of his face is artificial skin, covering his cyborg parts, including bionic eye. Presumably the right (scarred) side is his real skin.

From Michael:

“To be fair to Scott, he only had a couple of minutes to decide before Baby Nathan and Ship would die. There wasn’t enough time to ask Reed for help.”

Which is why the original poster said that Cyclops should have been looking for associates with time travel tech immediately afterward, to confirm that he’d made the right decision.

Considering Alan Moore as a co-creator of the Joker is silly. He wrote a really good story including the character – but not one that redefined the character.

On the other hand, Alan Moore did significantly RE-create Swamp Thing – to the extent that the way the character is used was permanently changed.

Drawing a character for the first means you designed the character’s costume. The only reason to consider a costume designer as a character’s creator is if the character isn’t really anything more than a costume.

I think it’s fair to credit Stan Lee as the co-creator of the Silver Surfer. From the stories I’ve heard, Kirby tossed the Surfer into the Galactus trilogy on his own initiative, not at the behest of Stan. However, I’m also under the impression that the verbose, noble, yet tragic figure the Surfer became had much more to do with Lee’s script than with Kirby’s initial concept.

On the other hand, I tend to agree with those who say that Cable had such a generic personality initially that it certainly didn’t feel like Simonson was using her dialog to flesh him out much. In which case, qualifying her as a co-creator does seem, at the least, to exaggerate her role.

I’d always heard that Cable was originally supposed to be Longshot who disappeared during the whole Siege Periloud fiasco. The glowing eye and the name Cable support this. As did Longshot’s wish to become “a better fighter” or something. Is there any truth to this?

I have another theory: Cable should be credited as being CO-created by Michael Golden. Here’s why…

The first cover appearance of Cable is New Mutants #87. That cover is a homage to an old Avengers cover. However, the actual drawing of Cable was traced or ripped off from the back of G.I.Joe Yearbook #2. It features a pin-up of the October Guard. There is a character (name?) holding his gun in exactly the same pose as Cable, with the fingers matching Cable’s hand.

Then, for the cover of New Mutants #94, LIefeld simply flipped the page over and ripped off the INSIDE back cover of G.I.Joe Yearbook #2. In that pic, Roadblock is striking the pose, and carrying the same gun, that Liefeld used for the cover to New Mutants #94. Being the amatuer that he is, Liefeld didn’t even think to adapt Roadblock’s firearm to fit in with his ‘future’ technology.

So, my point is, Cable only looks the way he does because of WHO’s drawings he was tracing during the time Harras gave him the assignment. It could have easily been Art Adams, John Byrne, George Perez or Frank Miller who Liefeld traced, but instead it was Golden.

So, essentially Golden ‘created’ Cable’s massive guns, bullet belts and bare chest (via Roadblock).

Like others have pointed out, Cable evolved over time. This leads to my belief that he and other characters like Wolverine should also have “developed by” credits, since (for example) much of Wolverine’s mystique and appeal comes from contributions by Claremont, Byrne, Wien, Cockrum, Miller and Windsor-Smith. Surly the Romita/Trimpe Wolverine–whiskers and all- could not have achieved his current level of popularity without some tweaking.

And regarding Peter David’s theory that Cable should be credited to ‘Marvel Comics': Mr. David, You’re one of my favourite writers, but your argument is immoral. A company can no more create an idea any more than a master can own a slave. Its an argument based on a false premise that corporations are people. They aren’t.

Superheroes fight for morals, not laws. So should we.

Baron Von Cruzer

April 3, 2009 at 4:24 pm

My understanding of the “Commander X” name was that Louise Simonson never intended for it to be the character’s name. It was basically a placeholder in the script:

Commander X = insert character’s final name

My source for this information is a letter printed in the letters column of “Comic Buyers Guide” in 94-95 or so. This letter was Louise Simonson’s response to a letter from Rob Liefeld in a previous issue, which in turn was a response to a column by Peter David. Which in turn was a response to…

…oh, never mind!

Think about it!

Would a writer of Louise Simonson’s skill actually use a name like, “Commander X.” How generic can you get! This was Louise’s explanation for the name.

The letter from Rob Liefeld began with, “Louise Simonson had as much to do with the creation of Cable as she did with the creation of Daffy Duck.”

By the way, “Daffy Duck” is a placeholder. This was eighteen-ish years ago, and I no longer have that issue. I remember he used the name of a famous funny animal character. Hmmm… maybe it was Daffy Duck.

The issue that printed Liefeld’s letter was the free issue of CBG given away at that year’s San Diego Comic-Con.

Hmm…

…maybe it was Donald Duck.

“There always seems to be way too much Liefeld in these columns. I don’t know what it means, but it means something!”

That’s because Liefeld’s art is Crap, and we must keep reminding everyone lest they forget.

Ah, Cable. A walking mass if diluted ideas held together with gun belts and pouches. This is why comic characters shouldn’t be created by committee.

Great Column this week. I definitely like this approach to Urban Legends.

“I can’t believe that page went to print with Wildside saying “are” where he means “our”.

That should have gotten somebody a pay cut. That’s elementary school english!”

Balloon reads: “But those two are self-styled heroes. They may not come willingly…”

There is nothing grammatically incorrect about that sentence.

And “But those two our self-styled heroes. They may not come willingly…” would certainly not get you a star in 3rd grade English classes.

Stop trying to slag old comics for the sake of writing a comment.

And Liefeld’s are was great back in the day.

If you mean “Thank God the inker contributed a hell of a lot to the page” by “Liefeld’s art”

Actually the panel in question reads “What do we care? After all, are demands are just a smokescreen. . .”

Stop trying to slag other posters for the sake of writing a comment.

i always thought rob liefeld was over-rated and i dont really think he could write otherwise his image creations wouldnt have gone down the drain. he’s back at marvel isnt he?

”Balloon reads: “But those two are self-styled heroes. They may not come willingly…”

There is nothing grammatically incorrect about that sentence.

You’ve got the wrong panel. Look at the panel directly above that one.

“After all, are demands are a smokescreen…”

Wilbur Lurch: yeah, I’m totally saying that. Not that anybody has to agree with me.

What kid who likes comics hasn’t filled a notebook with drawings of new characters in crazy costumes with codenames? And what do you think after you do it? You think, “wow, creating super-heroes is easy!” A character isn’t a character until they’ve been in a story. (And anyone who’s actually had to write a story has thought to themselves “wow, this is a lot harder than I thought!”)

Yeah, I kind of checked out when it was “revealed” that Cable was Nathan Summers. Primarily because I was hoping he’d go away, and that just fixed him in continuity forever.

Sorry, but I disagree with Matt Bird. Part of it is that I think there’s way too much emphasis on the role of the “creator” in comics; frequently, as different writers and artists interpret a character, the version that winds up ingrained as the popular perception of the character winds up nothing like the original. Since being the “creator” has such a cachet, fans (and many comics historians) wind up mangling the word in order to emphasize the importance of that writer/artist’s contribution.

In this case, it’s fairly clear. Rob Liefeld created Cable. He came up with a name, a concept, and a design for the character. That is the process of creation. Louise Simonson, the writer on the series, then proceeded to take that creation and develop it in many important, indeed vital ways. Without her contribution, the character would have been fundamentally different. Her role as developer was major, and deserves credit, but you can’t retroactively assign her to be the “creator” simply because you think that people don’t take the word “developer” seriously enough.

I’ll give another, more obvious example. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s version of the Hulk was not green, was not dumb, did not speak in broken English, and did not change when he got angry or upset. Every single major element of the character, everything that makes him recognizable as “the Hulk” to the man on the street (with the exception of his being green, a very early change) was added by later writers and artists, most notably Roy Thomas, who came up with his distinctive “Hulk smash puny humans!” patois. Does this mean that Lee and Kirby shouldn’t be credited as the creators of the Hulk? Of course not. They created the Hulk. Other people developed the initial concept, and many of those developers made more significant contributions to the character than Lee and Kirby did, but they came up with the idea, so they created it. That’s what the word means.

Fans (and comics professionals, as well) really need to get away from giving such emotional weight to the word “creator” in these discussions.

I love the revisionist history that happens every time a Liefeld piece of art is posted.

Everyone says “I never liked Liefeld’s work…”, even I say it but where we back in the early 90s?

Don’t lie and say you don’t have all the issues in your long boxes.

Also the whole time travel/alternate future universes is the reason why i gave up on the x-men.

Writer X: I have no new ideas, so hmmm I know I will bring some character from the future back to the present or how about an alternate universe. perfect.

“I’d say that being the first writer means at least co-creator, but the first artist doesn’t if someone else did the character sketches. Simonson didn’t create the background, but she did create his speech patterns and other mannerisms.”

That’s like saying the first artist is automatically a co-creator because they are the first to establish the character’s body language and visual mannerisms. And I don’t think anyone considers Mike Collins the co-creator of Gambit.

Likewise, Dale Keown’s Pitt first appeared in Youngblood #4 both drawn AND written by Rob Liefeld, just before Pitt #1 hit the stands. Yet I don’t think anyone claims Liefeld to be co-creator of Pitt.

I find all of the Cable stuff cool because I liked the character when I was too young to know better, and I remember all of the mystery around his origin.

If I remember a Comicon post by Steve Bissette correctly, creator royalties for John Constantine go to Alan Moore, John Totleben and himself, who created the character, Rick Veitch, who penciled the character’s first appearance, and at Alan Moore’s insistence, to Jamie Delano and John Ridgeway, Hellblazer’s first creative team. I think that covers every possible claim to creating the character, except for Sting’s.

DesertSon915: “Ah, Cable. A walking mass of diluted ideas held together with gun belts and pouches. This is why comic characters shouldn’t be created by committee.”

Um, I believe that the purpose of this article was to establish that what you describe was NOT created by committee, but rather by one man. What you meant to say was “This is why comic characters shouldn’t be created by Rob Liefeld.”

I’m mostly with John Seavey, with the addition that I think the “co-creator” label has been so over-applied that it’s usage has become to broad to be truly useful anyway. If I draw a character, name him, and tell you how he acts, and then you write him the way I told you to, I’m the creator. Similarly, if you come up with a character, name him, give him an origin, and then describe what he looks like and ask me to draw him, then you created the character, and I helped you realize your ideas. Thus, Rob Liefeld created Cable, and, for that matter, Stan Lee created Spider-man. At best, the first writer/artist of a team that added that final element to a concept wholly developed by the other person should get a title like “assistant creator” or something.

Wait…Stan Lee created Spider-Man? Jack Kirby had already done a character called ‘Silver Spider’ with the same powers, and once claimed he just re-used the character for Amazing Fantasy #15 (he would know).

Even if we can thank Lee for Peter Parker (obviously a large part of what make Spidey unique–the spin on the secret id), Spider-man’s infamous costume (never beaten before or since) was designed by Jack Kirby. That costume is a big part of the reason people love Spidey, and why he stands out from the pack.

And this says nothing of the contribution of Steve Ditko. If you have any doubt to the importance of the original Spider-man artist, take note of the number of classic Spider-man villians introduced during his 38 issue run (ie: all of them), and how many came after he left (ie: none).

How many great comic book characters did Stan Lee create without Lee or Ditko? Zero.

So, Lee did put the dialogue in the mouths, and maybe really did contribute *some* of the plotting, but we’ll never know how much Kirby and Ditko had to do with the creation of the Marvel superhero stable. I think ‘co-creator’ is the LEAST they should get.

I never knew that Ditko hadn’t designed Spider-Man’s costume. Suddenly I’ve lost a lot of (and possibly all) sympathy with his quest to be credited as co-creator of the character. Jack Kirby on the other hand definitely deserves to be credited.

As for Cable, it sounds like Leifeld provided much more than just the look. I think I’d call him the sole creator.

Oops – I just checked Wikipedia and at least according to Ditko, Spider-Man’s costume was Ditko’s design. I’ve just regained all sympathy for his cause – And it still looks like Kirby might need some credit too…

Mike-El-

The Silver Spider was created, by most accounts, by Kirby and Joe Simon. Simon says that that character was eventually revamped into the Fly (meaning that it likely wasn’t used as the Peter Parker Spider-Man we know), the similarities to which, by some accounts, were a deliberate motivation for some radical pre-AF changes to the Spider-man concept. Lee, Ditko, and most comic historians credit the costume design to Ditko, and Kirby sort of tacitly admits it when he gives Ditko all the credit for making the character work. Also, Kirby’s daughter says she never heard anything about Kirby creating Spider-man, and suggests that his wife used to correct people who made that assumption. Finally, if you give Kirby creator credit for coming up with a radically different Spider-themed hero years early that later was reworked into the Fly, you really have to credit Joe Simon as creator #4, and then we have to examine what led into the creation of THAT character, and the way this can unravel into infinity becomes quickly apparent. But this is really beside the point.

See, and this is where what John Seavey said comes in. Saying that someone is not the creator is not at all, in any way, intended to mean that their contributions are not important. As noted, the Hulk’s personality as we know him today was basically cooked up by Roy Thomas, and if that had happened behind the scenes, pre-publication, I have no doubt that people would be arguing that Thomas was a co-creator. But I don’t think I buy that logic. To me, the creator is the driving, decision-making creative force behind the creation. Pretty much every account agrees that Kirby’s conception of the character was rejected and Ditko was asked to make certain specific changes while other things were left to his judgement in designing a look for the character. This is, of course, hugely important, in the same way that Thomas’ contributions to the Hulk’s personality were hugely important to that character. I’ll concede that this situation isn’t as clear cut as the Cable one, but my personal feeling is that the over-arching force behind Peter Parker, Spider-Man, the guy who was turning down stuff that didn’t mesh with his conception of the character, was Lee, and therefore he’s the main creator.

He’s not that complex. Son of two superheroes travelled back in time to prevent the nightmare future.

Sure you can add levels and levels of details to that but any character is the same.

Batman – Parents killed, trained, put on scary costume to fight crime.

Or

Batman – Parents killed by a mugger who later became a mafia hitman who teams up with Batman to fight the reaper, trains with all the great masters of the world including but not limited to Ted ‘Wildcat’ Grant and about a gazillion aged martial arts masters who are picked off one by one by various villains over the years, puts on a costume inspired by a bat that flew in through his window but also by a halloween costume his father once wore and oh, he was bleeding to death at the time because he’d just fought Selena ‘Catwoman’ Kyle who at the time was a hooker, or a dominatrix, or a catburgler posing as a hooker/dominatrix and been knifed and then he adoped 2 different circus acrobats and a precocious kid and put them all in matching costumes and ….

You see the probem.

PAD’s theory appeared in a BID column. He named it the “WACKO” theory (Writer As Creative King/Overlord). I’ll try to find my BID collection and post some excerpts.

Apodaca,RE:Are/our

wow yeah just think of how many people that mistake had to go through. I think it goes something like Writer-editor-artist-editor-letterer-editor? Even if I’m wrong about the sequence I know who I blame for that one

I’ll concede Leifeld as Cable’s creator but also add to the “Creator” label shouldn’t be as vaunted as it is these days. He created the bare bones initial concept but the character has changed so much so now that it really is hardly that important. That his origin is something Leifeld was against says a lot.

Personally i much prefer baby Nathan becoming Cable to the stand alone ‘dude from future’/clone of Stryfe idea Leifeld had. We’ve gotten a TON more story mileage out of it to this day. especially when you add the Sinisiter element. The climax of Messiah Complex hinged on it. Cyclops had to trust that his son knew best and gave the baby to him.

“wow yeah just think of how many people that mistake had to go through. I think it goes something like Writer-editor-artist-editor-letterer-editor? Even if I’m wrong about the sequence I know who I blame for that one”

In those days, to the best of my knowledge, everyone at Marvel was still working Marvel-style, so the artist rarely (if ever) saw actual dialogue until the book was published. So it would’ve gone Writer -> Editor -> Letterer (and maybe not even back to the editor again, I’m not sure…I’m pretty sure that nowadays few editors seem to look things over once it’s back from the editor, because they’re juggling so many books at once).

Great article, cleared up all the confusion that still lingered in my head. And I grew up during the whole New Mutants/X-Force craze!

Jack Kirby didn’t design Spider-Man’s costume, by most accounts including Lee’s, Kirby designed A Spider-Man costume, that had an open mouth and an Ant-Man -like chest symbol and a gun that shot webbing. It was rejected. In addition, Lee didn’t like Kirby’s design for Peter Parker because he made him look way too rugged and good-looking, no matter how much Lee told him Parker needed to be nerdier. Then Ditko was given the assignment and kept nothing of Kirby’s design for either Spider-Man or Parker.

The confusion about Kirby and Spider-Man MAY be coming from the fact that Diko’s original COVER to Amazing Fantasy # 15 was rejected and Kirby retooled it into the one that we all know today.

People may just be thinking that Kirby created the look because of that.

Silly people.

~P~

Re: Mike-EL – “take note of the number of classic Spider-man villians introduced during his 38 issue run (ie: all of them), and how many came after he left (ie: none).”

With the exception of Rhino, Shocker, the Kingpin, Morbius, the Jackal, the Hobgoblin, Hydro-Man, Venom, and Carnage, respectively.

(Not to sound like a know-it-all jerk or anything.)

Have a good day.
John Cage

Yep, Cybrid was one of the possible names given Cable in Marvel Age.

Cable is a prime example of the sheer inanity of corporate-owned comics characters. To keep so many tired, pedestrian, created-by-committee ideas even remotely interesting to anyone, the twists and convolutions just get piled on over the years, and when you’ve got entire universes lurching along in such fashion, you end up with the sprawling nonsense that the X-titles became in the early 1990s.

Someone pointed out that we all mock Liefeld’s art, though there were clearly a gajillion people buying his books back then…that’s an excellent point! Here’s how it went in my neck of the woods: I remember standing around in the comic book with a bunch of fellow artists and writers, none of whom were Liefeld enthusiasts, wondering what the heck it was about this guy that people liked so much. The store owner then pointed out how much his early issues were selling for. One by one, we all started picking up the current stuff, hoping to sell it further down the line to pay for more comics (preferably ones drawn by competent artists).

In short, I suspect it was speculation that caused Liefeld’s fanbase to swell beyond that initial bunch of people awed by his detail and visual angst, but lacking in the overall visual accuity to recognize his inconsistency and lack of figure-drawing ability.

The above should say, “I remember standing around in the comic book STORE…” We weren’t just standing around in a comic book, I assure you. That would have been much cooler.

Nice installment, Brian. One more name was considered for Cable, though–possibly the original name choice as he congealed in Rob’s mind. An issue of Marvel Age printed Rob’s early character sketches as a preview of the upcoming shake-ups in New Mutants. In his notes, he identified the sketch for Cable as “Cyber or Cable”.

If these sketches were truly the first rough ideas behind his characters (as they seemed to be, since they were very rough sketches and had certainly been revised a bit by the time they saw print), then it would seem Cyber was the first scribbled name attached to the concept.

So Cyber is the name on his birth certificate. What a big, bionic liar.

Re: John Cage

“Rhino, Shocker, the Kingpin, Morbius, the Jackal, the Hobgoblin, Hydro-Man, Venom, and Carnage”

Note: I said classic.

Rhino, Shocker and Hydro-man: maybe. Morbius & Jackal: relics of the 70s. Hobgoblin: I love him, but he’s Green Goblin without the green. Kingpin: was nothing until Frank got a hold of him. Venom? cool costume, weak motivation. Carnage? Uh…no. Not unless we’re going to add ‘the Spot’ to this list.

We can name drop a bunch of villians post-Ditko to counter the argument, but how many of those are household names (well, almost house hold names) like Dr. Octopus, Green Goblin, Sandman, Kraven, Lizard, Mysterio, Electro Scorpion, the Vulture?!?!

Of course there are some half-decent characters to come along since then, but Amazing Spidey 1-38 have earned the tagline ‘superheroes 101′ for a reason!

Wasn’t a random stranger that took Cable to the future – Mother Askani was supposed to be future version of Rachel Summers.

Liefield created Cable. Wein & Trimpe created Wolvie (first appearance was in Incredible Hulk, remember?.

Mike-El:
At the risk of being impolite (on the internet? heaven forbid!), I think you just may be dating yourself with that list of “classic” villains. I guess it might depend on how you define the word “classic”, but consider how little characters like Rhino, Shocker and Kingpin have changed and still remain as vital as ever; they’re pretty timeless.
By any defintion, I certainly think Venom could be described as a “classic Spider-Man villain”, even though the character’s been around for “only” 20 years. He may not be your favorite villain, but if you ask any guy off the street to name 5 Spidey villains, I’d bet he’d name Venom before several of the characters from the Ditko years. Hell, he was in movie #3, you know. Venom is certainly not my favorite villain either, but seriously, how much more classic than “evil twin” can you get?

and as for this:
“How many great comic book characters did Stan Lee create without Lee or Ditko? Zero.”

Assuming you meant “KIRBY or Ditko”, Daredevil and Iron Man still spring to mind.

Baron Von Cruzer

April 5, 2009 at 10:04 pm

“How many great comic book characters did Stan Lee create without Lee or Ditko? Zero.”

STRIPERELLA!!!

We can name drop a bunch of villians post-Ditko to counter the argument, but how many of those are household names (well, almost house hold names) like Dr. Octopus, Green Goblin, Sandman, Kraven, Lizard, Mysterio, Electro Scorpion, the Vulture?!?!

Since Spider-Man 3 came out, three. Before that, two.

I’d be cautious about relying on Mr. Liefeld as a primary source. Numerous professionals have challenged his statements, including his “Robservations”, as being, well, self-serving.

While I think most people agree that Mr. Liefeld produced the first sketch of the character now known as Cable, there has been talk in the past of where he may have gotten his starting point. A former co-worker has suggested that the concept was lifted a bounty hunter who appeared in from Marvel’s Star Wars #16. As the May 2006 of Lying in the Gutter recounts, the description of this character is: “…an imposing human in his mid-fifties whose rugged and grim demeanor hides a terrible secret: a body that is half cybernetic. The left half of his body, which is cybernetic, is normally covered with syntheflesh; a small scar above his right eye…. In battle carries a variety of weapons included a repeating blaster that his enhanced strength allows him to easily wield.” In looking at the cover (http://www.comics.org/coverview.lasso?id=32709&zoom=4), you can see the resemblance to Cable once you add in the bionic eye, which Harras apparently suggested.

My sense is that Cable the character represents the pasting together of input from a group of people and any attempt by one person to claim credit is ignoring the creative process.

And just to be clear, I am not Sean Murphy the artist so this is not some big deal. I’m just a guy who once enjoyed Mr. Liefeld’s work, but grew disenchanted with the selfless promoting even while past commitments were not being met.

Would a writer of Louise Simonson’s skill actually use a name like, “Commander X.” How generic can you get!

My first thought after hearing that name (ok, second thought, after “gee, that’s generic”) was that if Charles Xavier was “Professor X” this would be “Commander X”, someone with a more militant approach to human/mutant relations than Xavier’s “scholarly” approach, which is what Cable was intended to be initially.

So it might have worked, despite being terribly generic.

I have to agree with what others said, namely that if Marvel had just kept Liefeld’s original intentions regarding Cable and Stryfe, the characters whould have been a heck of a lot less confusing. And, whether or not you like Liefeld, you have to admit that it was kinda disrespectful for Harras, Portacio & Lee to come up with a completely different origin for the characters without even bothering to consult Liefeld. Especially since Liefeld was still working at Marvel at that time. So why exclude him from the process?

Hi Brian,

Your excerpt of Walt Simonson recalling the design process of Cable in a message he posted on racmx is interesting when you consider Dan Fraga, ex-Liefeld stablemate, previously mentioned Cable’s design going further back than “New Mutants” #87 to Marvel’s Star Wars #16, where Valance The Hunter first appeared in 1978.

It is interesting that the Hunter was designed by Walt Simonson, husband of NM-writer Louise Simonson, the writer credited with creating much of Cable’s initial personality and purpose, despite Rob denying Louise having any such input.

On the subject of Ahab though, like you I agree he was never intended to be Cable.

But if was not originally intended as Cable then who was he intended as?

While writers later created Rory Campbell to be the younger version of the Master of Hounds, this was obviously not the original intention of creators such as Claremont whose dialogue in Uncanny X-Men Annual #14 revealed he already had plans for Ahab’s identity, the most telling excerpt being when Ahab calls Cyclops “laddie-buck” suggesting his being of Scottish descent. But the major telltale sign I’ve heard no one else mention before is how the Master of Hounds was going grey in a really unusual pattern.

The only question I’m left with is whether Claremont intended him as Rogue’s father, brother or son and what circumstances led to her mother moving all the way to the lower Mississippi?

Cheers,
James.

Very interesting article…looking back, maybe it would have been better for Stryfe to simply be a future version of Cable? We have to remember, when Cable first appeared, there hadn’t been so many characters from the future, just Rachael Summers at that point.

And I do agree that it was very disrespectful of Harras, Lee, and Portacio to do what they did, especially as Liefeld didn’t want for Cable to have that origin, especially as he was working on the character at the time. The retconning of Cable doesn’t make sense, especially the later elements such as his using his powers to suppress the TO virus, which makes scenes that happened during the X-tinction agenda even more strange – when Cable’s and everyone elses powers were shut off, shouldn’t the virus have gone crazy? And it also makes scenes in early X-force issues, where Cables fake skin was damaged and he looked the Terminator also strange…of course, if he was using fake skin to cover up part of his face, why not cover up the arm as well? I guess he thought a cybernetic arm looked cool…but I digress…

Looking back, I am curious as to whether or not Liefled adapted the origin Harras and co. provided. For the most part, I’m not sure, thought there are a couple of scenes (X-force #1, maybe?) where we see Cable using low level telekenetic abilities…

I have no idea who Ahab was supposed to be.

“I’d always heard that Cable was originally supposed to be Longshot who disappeared during the whole Siege Periloud fiasco. The glowing eye and the name Cable support this. As did Longshot’s wish to become “a better fighter” or something. Is there any truth to this?”

No that was Gambit as covered in 181: http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2008/11/13/comic-book-legends-revealed-181/

@Philip Ayres

Actually, that was not it either. Indeed, that myth plainly states Longshot wasn’t supposed to be Gambit. Again I’d heard it from several people, and my own readings of the books support this. Longshot became disillusioned with himself right before the Siege Perilious Fiasco. (This was from how Inferno ended and I think this happened around Uncanny 247-428.) He literally disassembled himself, talking to Storm, and said something to the effect of “I need to become better, stronger… a better fighter.” He was then not seen again until his appearance in X-Men #5-7.

Now this does not mean that idea was entertained for long, but the name Cable (TV themes in Mojoworld), the glowing eye (Both of their left eyes glow), the idea about becoming a better fighter and the mysterious arrival of Cable shortly after Longshot’s disappearance lend credence to this theory. It really seems like a logical progression of thought to link the two, so I was curious if other’s had heard this.

Actually, given that Longshot had 3 fingers and one thumb on each hand, while Cable had 4 fingers and one thumb on each had, I don’t think that idea holds up…unless Liefeld and Simonson were that clueless about Longshot.

Besides that, Longshot wasn’t really concerned about being a better fighter when he made his decision to leave. From uncannyxmen.net:

“Not long after that, however, Longshot questioned his use to the team when he couldn’t do anything to help during their fight with the Super-Sentinel Master Mold. Dazzler’s attempts to cheer him up provided only some temporary comfort, because he also found himself plagued by nightmares of Spiral, Rita and himself being unable to save the people he loved. Lacking any true sense of self or identity, Longshot finally began to question his amnesia instead of just “living for the moment” as he had been ever since he joined the X-Men. Bidding his good-byes to Storm, Longshot left the team in order to search out some clue to his true origins. [Uncanny X-Men #247-248]”

Here’s a link to that page, you have to scroll down to the bottom…

http://www.uncannyxmen.net/db/spotlight/showquestion.asp?faq=10&fldAuto=117&page=3

Back in the early days of Image I used to talk to Rob a lot and he always said that Cable & Stryfe, when originally created, where suppose to be brothers. That’s where he got the idea for the name Cable….Cain + Able = Cable. Considering Rob’s dad was a preacher of some type, the bible reference comes easy.
On a side/similar note in his book Youngblood the alien race called Katellians, was named after the street Extreme studios was on, Katella in Anaheim, which is named after the daughters of one of the founders of the city….Kate + Ella = Katella.

[…] Originally Posted by NakedOni Cable was created by Liefeld AND Louise Simonson, and Deadpool was created by Liefeld AND Fabian Nicieza. you've been reading the wrong history books. The story being Rob's creation of cable is here Comic Book Legends Revealed #201 | Comics Should Be Good! @ Comic Book Resources […]

I’m not the least surprised Harras didn’t consult Liefeld. I remember articles from that era discussing how the Xmen editors routinely told the writers where the stories were going and no, your Big Reveal you planned from the first isn’t going to fly. The rationale being that only the editors saw the whole big x-universe and how the tiny little creative cogs fit into it.
So why would Cable’s origin as Nathan Summers prevent his older self becoming Stryfe? Just that a Summers couldn’t go bad? Or what?
Brian, I disagree with you that the X-men didn’t have origins. They had one: They were mutants. They were born with their powers. They didn’t have any backstories but I think that’s significantly different. All we really needed to know when the series started was that they were born with powers and Professor X found them and recruited them.
Nit-picking note, Lee and Kirby did come up with the idea of the Hulk changing when he’s angry–I believe it’s Avengers 3 when that started.

liefieldcantdraw

January 12, 2013 at 12:16 pm

Stryfe is cable of the future? In the same way that Magus was the Warlock of the future? Liefield’s best idea was taken from one of Jim Starlin’s many ideas? Surely not!

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