More To Cable
♦ Tripwire welcomes the return of former contributing writer Scott Braden in his third in an occasional series about comic series that never were. Today it’s the turn of Todd Dezago’s Cable: Awakenings…
Todd Dezago’s Cable: Awakenings
“I wanted to let readers know that there was more to the character of Cable than anybody had let on,” writer Todd Dezago said. “That’s what Awakenings was all about.”
Known for his critically acclaimed work on Sensational Spider-Man, Dezago is no stranger to writing characters perceived to be outsiders. But, when asked to take over the writing chores of the first Cable series in the mid-1990s, Dezago knew full well that he had a challenge before him.
First off, where the fully fleshed- out friendly neighborhood web slinger had a 30-year history behind him, even Dezago admits that there really wasn’t much to the mutant militiaman other than a big mystery and a big gun.
“Cable’s story had always been a convoluted one,” Dezago explained. “The comic itself was essentially created out of a need of another X-book, rather than on the strength of the character. And, what strength Cable did have comes from his mysterious side. He’s basically a man sent from the future to fix the past. But, from what really? And, why? When Marvel launched the book, I don’t think anybody thought about what the answer to those mysteries were. They just maintained the mysteries as opposed to building towards them.
“I remember actually wanting to write X-Force because it was a team book,” Dezago confessed. “I enjoy with the dynamics of character interaction, so after hearing that [scripter] Jeph Loeb had left the book, I called up then-X-Men editor Mark Powers and asked if it was available He told me it was, so I was all set to write the book. Mark then called me back a few days later and asked me if I was interested in doing Cable instead. What Mark really was telling me that he couldn’t find anybody else to write Cable, while everybody wanted to write X-Force. So, I initially took on Cable as a favor for a friend.
“After accepting the assignment, I went out with Mark, [then-Marvel editor-in-chief] Bob Harras, [then-assistant editor] Jason Liebig –and the four of us had lunch discussing Cable and where his story was at the moment. I told them upfront that I considered Cable to be a confusing convoluted character. It appeared that everybody had their take on him, and what I wanted to do was do a very short, back-to-basics to re-establish the character and what he was all about. I wouldn’t wipe the slate clean, but I would establish some ground rules that we could build from. As a writer, I needed to do that. So, everybody agreed, and I came up with the story that we were going to call Awakenings.”
Using the previous works of writer Loeb, Fabian Nicieza, and Scott Lobdell as a blueprint, Dezago crafted a story that would shed some much-needed light on Marvel’s warrior messiah, as well as act as a starting point for new readers. Originally meant to take place in Cable #43 and #44, as well as in the “Flashbacks” issue, Awakenings would also set things in motion for the much-anticipated apocalyptic battle that was yet to come.
According to Dezago, Cable #43 would have Stryfe’s [Cable’s evil clone] mentor, Chevay’re, venture back in time to “push” Cable into his role as Earth’s next messiah – the Askani’son. To do this, Chevay’re would use his “long-range influence” and, as Dezago put it, “plague Cable with a series of dark dreams, visions of the last days before his jaunt back to our era.” Within these dark dreams, Cable remembers his wife, Aliya, telling him something awful – something that he dares not remember. Realizing Cable’s in pain, Domino, his most trusted companion and sometimes love, reaches out to him. But just as she acts to console him, he pushed her away – blaming the incident on his sensing something’s wrong with the man known as Blaquesmith. Racing to the rescue, Cable has another vision that concerns Tetherblood – his best friend from the future. In agony once again, Cable closes himself off completely from Domino, forcing her to confront him with questions and ultimatums. Still staggered from the visions, Cable offered her no solace, thereby forcing them to end their relationship permanently.
“We talked about creating a triangle,” Dezago said, “that wasn’t necessarily going to be romantic, but would alienate Cable from Domino and create a stronger relationship between Storm [from the X-Men] and himself – based on the fact that he was having trouble understanding his visions. Cable also wanted to break up with Domino because he didn’t want to get close to somebody who could possibly get hurt from this. He was afraid of the memories that kept popping up – especially since they dealt with his love for Aliya. So, he cut Domino out of their shared rapport – just to be safe. By doing this, she felt that he had turned his back on her and had shut her out – both physically and psionically – which is what eventually ends their relationship in what I envisioned as a really touching moment.
Cable #44 would have had our hero called in by the mutant team X-Factor to telepathically go into the injured Strong Guy’s mind in an attempt to coax him out of a coma. As things go, though, an emotionally fragile Strong Guy doesn’t want to leave his coma – he prefers fighting made-up battles as opposed to real ones. So, as Cable uses his vast mental powers to confront Strong Guy, he also unwittingly releases the traumatic memories of his own past . . . events that will shape our distant future. According to Dezago, it’s here the reader finds out Cable has unconsciously hidden these painful memories from himself – memories that reveal dark, terrifying times to come.
“I had the issue end with Cable being caught up in a silent psychic scream,” Dezago recalled.
Dezago said that the Flashbacks issue [known as “Flashbax” during the time that his proposal was written] would then go into Cable’s mind and reveal his timetrip back to the 20th century. In loose notes, Dezago planned to reveal full details of Cable and Aliya’s attempt to travel back in time, so as to ensure that certain historical events took place; how they were pursued by Stryfe; and how they were eventually betrayed by Tetherblood. It would also reveal the circumstances behind Aliya’s death, where we learn that her last act is to telepathically encrypt Cable with the knowledge of what must take place should he defeat the villainous Apocalypse. Readers would also learn through Cable that Aliya had foreseen her own death, but forfeited her life anyway since it was one of the events that must occur to safeguard both man and mutantkind – a necessary sacrifice in an effort to prevent the coming end times.
“Having confronted these dark memories,” Dezago revealed, “Cable overcomes his trauma as he seeks out Blaquesmith , who acknowledges what the big guy remembers. Blaquesmith also sees a new light in Cable — a sense of peace with the past and a renewed determination to fight for the future.”
Dezago then explained that the future Cable’s fighting for would involve another storyline that’s been dangled in front of readers for years: The final battle with Apocalypse.
“What I was building to was that the final conflict between Cable and Apocalypse was going to take place six years from now,” Dezago said. “This battle would have Cable leading all the X-teams in an effort to destroy Apocalypse once and for all. And, thanks to Aliya’s ‘gift,’ Cable now knows which of his friends and loved ones will survive the battle’s outcome, which is knowledge that eventually drives him away from those that matter most.”
With the full support of the X-offices at Marvel, things appeared in place for Dezago to tell his amazing story. But appearances can be deceiving. “I was really looking forward to writing it,” Dezago said, “but because of the dynamics of Marvel in general, and the X-books specifically, different variables kept coming in from all sides. And, so many outside things had to be thrown into my story that I was unable to continue the rhythm I was trying to establish with the book. I ended up just losing feeling for the story.
“Again, my intention was this: To have three issues of Cable questioning his own memories and waking up to the fact that he had more understandable and direct agenda that involved him defeating Apocalypse at all costs. From there he’d continue remembering the past – our future – and in doing so, see things he would have to address. By doing that, he’d become a more defined character. But, with all the convoluted continuity that went along with the X-books, and specifically Cable, it was really difficult for me to tell that story. A lot of the outside stuff that had to be interjected into the book ended up taking away from the story’s pacing. It’s almost impossible to keep a linear subplot – or even a major plot for that matter – going if it’s being twisted and changed here and there. It makes for a lot of confusion as far as the story goes.
“I hate to sound like a prima donna,” Dezago added, “but when I felt that my direction and ideas were being rerouted, I found it very difficult to continue on the book. I’m not proud of my work on Cable. I don’t consider them good Cable stories, and I seriously doubt they added anything to the character whatsoever. In fact, I became so frustrated that I eventually saw my work on Cable as being nothing more than fill-in issues between Jeph Loeb’s stories and James Robinson’s.
“At the same time, I’m very proud of that stuff I wanted to explore about the character. Looking at Cable, I’d always felt he was rather two-dimensional. He didn’t appear to have any depth or even a great deal of emotion. He always came off as a one-note hero, and I wanted to give him the opportunity to become a much more developed character. Someone people could relate to a little better.
“If I had the chance to write Awakenings,” Dezago concluded, “I know I would have been proud of what I’d done.”
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