Comics

'Cable #1' Brings on a Time Traveler Who Won't Make You Roll Your Eyes

Part Terminator, part Marty McFly, and part Rocky Balboa, Cable sticks to the basics, but not much else.


Carlos Pacheco

Cable

Publisher: Marvel
Price: $3.99
Writer: James Robinson
Publication date: 2017-05-31
Amazon

When it comes to time travel, there aren't many superheroes these days that can do it without making fans roll their eyes. As a concept, time travel is overdone, burned out, and utterly devoid of shock value. The days of Back to the Future and the lovable eccentricities of Doc Brown are long gone.

However, there's still one character who can build their story around time travel and make it work. It's not Doc Brown, either. It's Cable. He's part Terminator, part Marty McFly, and part Rocky Balboa. He's also friends with Deadpool and willingly works with him on a regular basis. That alone is a testament to his grit and determination.

With a major role in the next Deadpool movie, as well as the star power of Josh Brolin, the time traveling mutant has a lot going for him. With Cable #1, another title in Marvel's ongoing RessurXion effort, James Robinson and Carlos Pacheco try to put Cable on the same wave that Deadpool rode to popularity. He may never inspire as many Funko figures or cos-play costumes, but he has many factors going for him.

The story in Cable #1 takes the core of his character and runs with it. There's no elaborate exposition. There's no major build-up to the plot. It just puts Cable in the middle of a time travel plot and lets him do his thing. Anyone who knows anything about Cable won't be too surprised. They won't be disappointed, either. There's time travel, there are big guns, and there's large-scale violence both on and off-panel. By every measure, this is a typical Tuesday for Cable.

In terms of getting back to the core of a particular character, Cable #1 checks the necessary boxes. It doesn't check every box, but it checks the ones that are most important to the core of Cable's character. Robinson doesn't try to reinvent Cable or twist his story in some elaborate way. He sticks to the basics of time travel and big guns, which are the meat and potatoes of every great Cable story.

In terms of the contents of that story, it itself doesn't try to be too iconic. It has Cable doing some time-hopping to find someone who has been sharing futuristic weapons with people and time periods that haven't even mastered indoor plumbing. Anyone who deals with Marvel's twisted timeline is right to be concerned about that sort of thing. Given the absence of the Fantastic Four and the ineptitude of those such as Hank McCoy, Cable is the only one qualified to handle this issue. The substance is there. It's only the portion size that's lacking.

The core concept is there in Cable #1. There's someone screwing with the timeline by giving high-tech guns and swords to cowboys and samurai. That makes for plenty of gun-fights and gratuitous violence, as only Cable can inspire, but there's little context to the story. There's no real clue as to who Cable is after.

That doesn't make Cable's battles any less entertaining. Compared to the plots of a typical Terminator movie, Cable #1 is refreshingly straightforward. There's just too little drama and too little setup to intrigue those who aren't already fans of Cable's time-hopping narratives. Robinson doesn't try to push the envelope and that's understandable. At a time when many other X-men characters are returning to their roots in wake of Inhumans vs. X-men, his efforts in Cable #1 fit the larger narrative.

For those who don't know much about Cable or his convoluted backstory, complete with clones and techno-organic viruses, they won't see anything too overwhelming. They won't see anything too shocking, either. They'll just see a character who specializes in traveling through time, shooting big guns, and getting into big fights. That alone has plenty of entertainment value. However, in a world that still has Deadpool and multiple Wolverine knock-offs, that only goes so far.

There aren't many details of the story in Cable #1 that are clear from the beginning or even the end, for that matter. That's not to say the story is messy or convoluted, though. It is the beginning of a larger story. The ending teases a much larger conflict at hand, one that will require more time travel and more big guns.

That has plenty of appeal to long-time Cable fans, but new readers won't find anything that they can't find in other comics that deal with big guns and gratuitous violence. Given the number of characters that rely on big guns and gratuitous violence, Cable #1 doesn't do much to set itself apart. However, there's still something to be said about a story that can involve cowboys and samurais in the same story.

In the end, the greatest success of Cable #1 is how sticks to the basics and doesn't complicate the narrative. In any story that involves time travel, that in and of itself is an accomplishment. Robinson maintains the core of Cable's character and Pacheco's art ensures that it's visually appealing. The story has the necessary foundation upon which to build Cable's story. There's nothing in that story that precludes a narrative that becomes an iconic moment in his history. It's a long way towards achieving that level of quality, but it's on the right path.

With a promising future in Deadpool 2, courtesy of Josh Brolin, Cable is one of those characters whose profile is on the rise. Cable #1 puts him at the front of the batting order and shows off the potential of what he can bring to the table. With big guns, a bad attitude, and a blatant disregard for time paradoxes, he has all the tools he needs to be a major player for the X-men. At a time when Hugh Jackman has retired and Deadpool is the new adamantium standard, the timing couldn't be better.

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In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

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Features

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

Nonetheless, there are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. There are singers tackling deep, universal matters of the heart and mind. Artists continuing to mess around with a genre that can sometimes seem fixed, but never really is. Musicians and singers have been experimenting within the genre forever, and continue to. As Charlie Worsham sings, "let's try something new / for old time's sake." - Dave Heaton

10. Lillie Mae – Forever and Then Some (Third Man)

The first two songs on Lillie Mae's debut album are titled "Over the Hill and Through the Woods" and "Honky Tonks and Taverns". The music splits the difference between those settings, or rather bears the marks of both. Growing up in a musical family, playing fiddle in a sibling bluegrass act that once had a country radio hit, Lillie Mae roots her songs in musical traditions without relying on them as a gimmick or costume. The music feels both in touch with the past and very current. Her voice and perspective shine, carrying a singular sort of deep melancholy. This is sad, beautiful music that captures the points of view of people carrying weighty burdens and trying to find home. - Dave Heaton



9. Sunny Sweeney – Trophy (Aunt Daddy)

Sunny Sweeney is on her fourth album; each one has felt like it didn't get the attention it deserved. She's a careful singer and has a capacity for combining humor and likability with old-fashioned portrayal of deep sadness. Beginning in a bar and ending at a cemetery, Trophy projects deep sorrow more thoroughly than her past releases, as good as they were. In between, there are pills, bad ideas, heartbreak, and a clever, true-tearjerker ballad voicing a woman's longing to have children. -- Dave Heaton



8. Kip Moore – Slowheart (MCA Nashville)

The bro-country label never sat easy with Kip Moore. The man who gave us "Somethin' 'Bout a Truck" has spent the last few years trying to distance himself from the beer and tailgate crowd. Mission accomplished on the outstanding Slowheart, an album stuffed with perfectly produced hooks packaged in smoldering, synthy Risky Business guitars and a rugged vocal rasp that sheds most of the drawl from his delivery. Moore sounds determined to help redefine contemporary country music with hard nods toward both classic rock history and contemporary pop flavors. With its swirling guitar textures, meticulously catchy songcraft, and Moore's career-best performances (see the spare album-closing "Guitar Man"), Slowheart raises the bar for every would-be bro out there. -- Steve Leftridge



7. Chris Stapleton – From a Room: Volume 1 (Mercury Nashville)

If Chris Stapleton didn't really exist, we would have to invent him—a burly country singer with hair down to his nipples and a chainsaw of a soul-slinging voice who writes terrific throwback outlaw-indebted country songs and who wholesale rejects modern country trends. Stapleton's recent rise to festival headliner status is one of the biggest country music surprises in recent years, but his fans were relieved this year that his success didn't find him straying from his traditional wheelhouse. The first installment of From a Room once again finds Stapleton singing the hell out of his sturdy original songs. A Willie Nelson cover is not unwelcome either, as he unearths a semi-obscure one. The rest is made up of first-rate tales of commonality: Whether he's singing about hard-hurtin' breakups or resorting to smoking them stems, we've all been there. -- Steve Leftridge



6. Carly Pearce – Every Little Thing (Big Machine)

Many of the exciting young emerging artists in country music these days are women, yet the industry on the whole is still unwelcoming and unforgiving towards them. Look at who's getting the most radio play, for one. Carly Pearce had a radio hit with "Every Little Thing", a heartbreaking ballad about moments in time that in its pace itself tries to stop time. Every Little Thing the album is the sort of debut that deserves full attention. From start to finish it's a thoroughly riveting, rewarding work by a singer with presence and personality. There's a lot of humor, lust, blues, betrayal, beauty and sentimentality, in proper proportions. One of the best songs is a call for a lover to make her "feel something", even if it's anger or hatred. Indeed, the album doesn't shy away from a variety of emotions. Even when she treads into common tropes of mainstream country love songs, there's room for revelations and surprises. – Dave Heaton

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

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Scholar Judith May Fathallah's work blurs lines between author and ethnographer, fan experiences and genre TV storytelling.

In Fanfiction and the Author: How Fanfic Changes Popular Culture Texts, author Judith May Fathallah investigates the progressive intersections between popular culture and fan studies, expanding scholarly discourse concerning how contemporary blurred lines between texts and audiences result in evolving mediated practices.

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Which is the draw, the art or the artist? Critic Rachel Corbett examines the intertwined lives of two artists of two different generations and nationalities who worked in two starkly different media.

Artist biographies written for a popular audience necessarily involve compromise. On the one hand, we are only interested in the lives of artists because we are intrigued, engaged, and moved by their work. The confrontation with a work of art is an uncanny experience. We are drawn to, enraptured and entranced by, absorbed in the contemplation of an object. Even the performative arts (music, theater, dance) have an objective quality to them. In watching a play, we are not simply watching people do things; we are attending to the play as a thing that is more than the collection of actions performed. The play seems to have an existence beyond the human endeavor that instantiates it. It is simultaneously more and less than human: more because it's superordinate to human action and less because it's a mere object, lacking the evident subjectivity we prize in the human being.

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