Monday, June 30, 2008

Cable #5

The baby-wearin’, time-skippin’, gun-firin’ madness continues this month in Cable. Taking possession of the first mutant born after M-Day and swearing to protect it with his life, Cable has hurled himself into the timestream and emerged roughly 35 years in the future. But it wasn’t long before his plans to hide from the child’s would-be assassins in another time and place fell apart. Bishop found the pair with relative ease, and while they escaped their assailant in the end, that momentary safety came with a heavy price – the death of a former X-Forcer, Cable’s old protégé Cannonball.

The writing on this book is little more than an excuse to transition between crazy action scenes and striking futuristic settings. The man in charge, Duane Swierczynski doesn’t have a knack for dialog. His characters are about as deep as a kiddy pool, interested in looking badass, firing guns and little else. Reading this issue was like watching a terrible summer action blockbuster – a glut of action, screaming, posturing and suicidal special effects, and… oh yeah… there’s a plot buried somewhere underneath all of the rubble. It’s like rubbernecking at a bad car accident on your afternoon commute: you bitch and bitch when everybody in front of you slows down to take a peek, but then can’t help yourself from doing the same as you cruise past the wreckage.

Cable treats his infant companion with about as much care as he does the weapons he straps to his back. The two share almost no emotion connection, when in reality that relationship should be the backbone of this story. If Swierczynski wants to mimic Lone Wolf and Cub that’s cool, but he’s missing the biggest piece of the puzzle. If nothing else, that relationship (or lack thereof) provides a bit of unintentional comic relief to the series, as Cable cares so much for the child that he’s taken to wearing her on his torso during battle. It’s an absolutely hilarious image, this would-be bodyguard doing everything short of painting a bullseye on her forehead in his quest to get the kid killed. Well, that gets even better this month when it suddenly occurs to the war-weary old veteran that gee, maybe I ought to do something about this baby on my chest. Literally the moment he acts to protect the child, all of his enemies commence firing directly, repeatedly, at the center of his chest. If it weren’t meant to be so deathly serious, it would never be so absurdly funny.

Ariel Olivetti, perhaps most widely known for his recent work designing a gun that shoots swords on Punisher War Journal, brings a very similar style to his artistic duties on Cable. Olivetti digitally colors his own work and, as is the case with most artists who do so, that results in a much more cohesive visual identity. His work is extremely rich and vivid, a strange mashup of realism and stylization that captures the best of both worlds and blends them together to create something completely original. While his compositions will occasionally leave something to be desired, the unusually spectacular nature of his efforts and, naturally, the excess of eye candy he brings to the page make this issue a visual pleasure. If Olivetti’s style were to become more widespread, I could see myself tiring of it relatively quickly. But because he’s the only one doing anything like this in a mainstream series, it retains a certain charm, an appeal that’s hard to pinpoint but easy to enjoy.

I don’t know whether I loved this issue or hated it, but it’s certainly one of the more original comics I’ve read this year. Either Duane Swierczynski is a moron who’s watched one action movie too many or he’s a genius, swinging for the fences in the most adrenaline-soaked action / adventure satire on the market. His partner in crime, Ariel Olivetti, has moments of glory and moments of weakness, but always manages to hold the reader’s interest. I’m going to go out on a limb here and recommend you turn off your brain for a while and flip through this. It’s a strange, stereotypical beast, but there’s this oddball allure that kept me smiling from cover to cover.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is poor and 10 is amazing...
Overall Score: 4

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