(a) Salvador Larroca
How do you spell disappointment? C-A-B-L-E A-N-D X-F-O-RC-E. From previews, interviews, and promo images, Dennis Hopeless' Cable and X-Force seemed like it was poised to take the reigns from the dark and gritty first volume of Uncanny X-Force by Rick Remender. The series features some of the most bad-ass mutants from the Marvel universe and has a vaguely cool plot, yet at every turn, there's another reason to not like this book. In a nutshell which I'll crack open in a moment, Cable is basically a plank of wood now, Hope Summers is a whiny brat, and the supporting cast--Domino, Colossus, Dr. Nemesis, and Forge--are such weak interpretations of the characters that it's hard to not dismiss this series outright. Have you ever wanted to read a comic book about heroes being complete assholes? Me neither, but here we have it.
While drama and suspense are an important part of any ongoing comic book mythology, Cable and X-Force #1 opens with a confrontation between Cable's crew and the Uncanny Avengers, led by Havok, who is technically Cable's uncle. I went through a few thoughts after reading this sequence, in which Havok attempts to calmly talk things through with Cable even though it's glaringly obvious Cable and his team just murdered a number of humans. Cable simply says, "Can't explain it away. Wish I could," before blasting his uncle with a massive energy beam and teleporting away. At first, I found myself off-put by how ridiculously arrogant and condescending Cable sounds, then I reasoned that Cable's always been a bit of a curmudgeon. Finally, I realized that Cable has been a relative mainstay in the Marvel universe for over two decades, that his character evolved over time, and that subsequently, Dennis Hopeless erased all that evolution and growth by effectively devolving Cable back to his boorish, repugnant original self. There's no excuse for rendering years of storytelling void simply to make your main character seem more cool! and dangerous!
Beyond his total lack of empathy for anyone other than himself (or so it would seem to any new reader whatsoever), Cable gets literally no character development. So, not only does Hopeless destroy years of growth, but he's not actively working to make sure Cable stays exactly the same forever. Maybe not. Maybe Cable will get a thing we humans like to call a personality in subsequent issues. But I'm not critiquing future potentials; I'm reviewing what I've read and what I've read is a monstrosity. Later in the issue, Hopeless throws good ol' Hope Summers into the mix, seemingly to glean some emotional nuance out of the narrative with her father. But even after seeing his daughter for the first time since she literally carried the weight of a god before being mature and strong enough to expel and destroy it, all Cable can say is, "I missed you too, kid," in response to Hope's scathing lecture about him being a a terrible father. It's a huge letdown and just goes to show how much Hopeless is screwing up these characters.
Oh, and if you were excited to see Colossus as a fugitive, perhaps an explanation as to why he's on Cable's X-Force team, well then you'd be sadly misled. Colossus shows up for all of two panels with only one line ("RAAAAAAA!!!!") before the story goes back in time a few days to explain how these characters got into such dire circumstances. It's a cheap move to promote a certain fan-favorite character then neglect to put him in the first issue! As for the rest, I've never read any Domino stories or series, so I had no idea what her power was going into the book. Surprise, surprise, I didn't get any explanation and have yet to go to Wikipedia to check. Dr. Nemesis seems like he was chosen to be in this book at random, as his only reason for being there is to help Cable with a convenient chronic headache problem. Forge is just lame. There, I said it.
Cable and X-Force is now the second 'Marvel NOW!' series that has seriously let me down (I'm looking at you, Deadpool). In general, everything Hopeless strives for falls flat and it's extremely disconcerting. Not very often do I find myself pausing while reading to reflect on how bad something is. Instead of giving readers a fun, intense, action-packed book with awesome characters, Dennis Hopeless wrote a first chapter completely shrouded in thick, unnecessary plot that's metaphorically giving readers a snarky smile to show that it knows more than we do. What a jackass.