This week everyone’s
most kind of favorite gun-toting, time-traveling, Deadpool-friending assassin Cable is returning to comics in his own ongoing series with Marvel veterans James Robinson and Carlos Pacheco.
Also, no you aren’t crazy! Dennis Hopeless and Niko Henrichon are jumping onto Dr. Strange before Jason Aaron, Chris Bachalo and company wrapped up their run… but I guess Marvel thought it was more important to get the issue crossing into Secret Empire out the door? It’s time for The Marvel Rundown (yay?)!
Writer: James Robinson
Artist: Carlos Pacheco
Colors: Jesus Aburtov
Inks: Rafael Fonteriz
Letters: VC’s Cory Petit
Reviewed by Alexander Jones
If Cable #1 by James Robinson and Carlos Pacheco is anything it would be unexpected. The series has set itself apart from many others in just how quirky the narrative is. Nailing the book down to just one genre is next-to-impossible. Robinson takes the unapologetic, ultra-violent characterization of his lead and dials it up to the max. I’ve written about it countless times over the past few weeks, but lots of X-Men books have been counting on the reader to come to the comic with pre-existing knowledge or an affinity to the character before the narrative has even started-that’s not the case with Cable #1 that subjects readers into the insanity of the current state of affairs for the character from page one. With very few words Robinson and artist Pacheco ease readers into the narrative, letting them know everything they need about Cable in a story oozing with style. There’s a certain magical quality to this issue as well in how it takes delight in confusing the reader. You don’t get everything you need to know about the story or anti-hero in this one chapter and I just hope new fans don’t incorrectly think that they are missing something.
The worst crime that Robinson and the X-Office could had done would be to seamlessly integrate the confusing backstory of Cable into the core X-Men Universe, which is where Robinson and Marvel pull the rug out from under readers. There’s also something fascinating by the different tones that this issue switches up on readers. Right when you think you know where the story is going, there’s a different genre piece mixing the whole thing up. Another brilliant aspect of this story is how Robinson at least in the beginning shows a side of Cable that gets away from Marvel talent far too often: the humor! Much like the recent depiction of Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe or even the zanier moments of the current Deathstroke series, Cable gets himself in a seriously silly situations and takes some joy in the moment-this is a side to the character that Robinson could have a great deal of fun with going forward.
The excellent Carlos Pacheco turns some inspired work in these pages even if the colors do feel much too flat. Cable’s dimensions have been exaggerated to an almost comedic effect and seeing an artist slim down his figure with a redesign and try to interpret him in a way that makes sense feels like a small miracle. Pacheco’s art takes very astute care in having smooth clean lines that set apart the different cast members in the book. The artist is a little light on some of the background details in the issue but does a good job framing everything in an interesting manner. This issue is very light on dialogue and takes lots of care to leave lots of wide open panels with empty space complete with stunning vistas. I wasn’t expecting the visuals in a book featuring Cable, but Pacheco delivers on every aspect here.
I can’t quite wrap my head around where this series is going to go next or what the ending of the book actually means but I’m happy to read a Marvel series that is opaque. This isn’t mired in endless dialogue or too confusing to comprehend but minimalistic and just weird enough to capture readership and attention. There’s a lot of great things in Cable #1 from the beautiful art to the captivatingly sparse dialogue or subverted genre tropes. I hope to see Robinson continue to capitalize on the underutilized potential of this character going forward.
Final Verdict: Buy. There’s an unprecedented level of fun in Cable #1 that calls for your attention!
Dr. Strange #21
Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Artist: Niko Henrichon
Letters: VC’s Cory Petit
Reviewed by A.J. Frost
“Magic isn’t what it once was,” intones Doctor Strange near the beginning of this twenty-first of the eponymous series, delivered in a voice I can only imagine being filled with the ennui of someone who can bend the ways of the universe with his mind. It’s a nice little turn of phrase, and one that certainly subverts the expectations for this issue. And honestly, going into this one… I wasn’t so sure what to expect. My experiences with Doctor Strange and his magical persuasions haven’t always been the strongest and its so easy to veer off and turn this character into a pastiche of tired magician tropes. Yet, for all my initial doubts, by the end of the issue I was bought into the story, helped along the way with some skillfully-rendered grotesque art and interesting character beats.
When any new creative team takes over a series, there’s always the anticipation to see what they bring to the table, what they add or subtract, or how they morph particular characters in their image. Luckily, writer Dennis Hopeless (Spider-Woman) and artist Niko Henrichon (X-Men) do an excellent job at taking the magical world of Doctor Strange and making it their own. The story is straightforward enough, but with a twist. All the accessories that make Doctor Strange who he is— the apparatuses of magic and his legendary cape that is synonymous with his image—are nowhere in sight. And with New York now under the rule of the HYRDA-friendly Captain America (side note: ugh!) and a darkforce dome, the stakes are higher than they have been in a long time. Armed with only his acerbic sagacity and some Muggle weapons (are we allowed to cross the magical streams here? Oh well… doing it anyway), Strange is on his own to bring down the darkforces from within.
But, invariably, its not as smooth a mission as it could be. There are terrifying monsters to decapitate (don’t tell Kathy Griffin) and subdue, let along dealing with the fact that Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum is under siege and has to be liberated with the help of Spider-Woman, Daredevil, and ol’ Ben Urich. What could have easily been turned to farce is redeemed by the steady pens of Hopeless and Henrichon, who instill keen senses of energy and peril into the action scenes late in the issue, which work in great tandem with the more, let’s say, nauseating aspects of the comic (mostly dealing with enormous and squishy beasts and their subsequent rotting carcasses).
Despite my initial doubts, there is a lot to like here. Hopeless and Henrichon take over Doctor Strange without too much stylistic distraction and they turn the character’s lack of iconic accessories into an interesting plot conceit. Most effective, however, is the out-of-the-blue twist and the end of issue. No spoilers here, but let me say that it should be enough to make you want to keep reading just to see what happens next.
Final Verdict: This is a strong BROWSE. If you dig the character, then this one to read. If you’re more casual, then it’s still worth your time, especially to check out the imaginative creature art.
Fruit snack aficionado. @AlexandComics