Cable is a fictional character that appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character first fully appeared in "The New Mutants" #87 (January 1990), and was created by writer Louise Simonson and artist/co-writer Rob Liefeld.
Cable, or Nathan Christopher Charles Dayspring Askani'son Summers, is a time-traveling soldier from the future who is here to prevent his apocalyptic timeline from coming to pass. He is biologically the son of X-Men Madelyne Pryor (a clone of Jean Grey) and Scott Summers, a.k.a. Cyclops, and the step-son and genetic proxy son of Jean Grey. As an infant, he first appeared in Uncanny X-Men #201 (October, 1985), though it took years for said infant and the time-traveling adult to be revealed as the same individual.
Thanks to the machinations of Mr. Sinister, he was born with a destiny—to kill Apocalypse. Not being an idiot, Apocalypse took steps to prevent this at an early stage by infecting Nathan with a special "techno-organic virus" which severely limited his powers and would have killed him if his loving father and, uh, step-mother hadn't sent him 2,000 years into the future to be raised by his alternate-universe sort-of-half-sister's all-female psychic death cult. Once he had grown into a grizzled old veteran, Nathan came back in time to the present in order to kill Apocalypse before he could conquer the world.
Now that Cable has accomplished his mission (repeatedly), he has become a man without a purpose; the character has been bounced around through a variety of new concepts. He's been a member of the X-Men more than once, became a messiah figure and developed an Odd Friendship with a certain psychotic katana-wielding mercenary, then adopted and raised Hope, the first mutant born after the mass depowering, while traveling through time. His powers have fluctuated as well, regaining and losing both his techno-organic symbiote and his mutant powers.
In the aftermath of Extermination, a younger version of Cable dubbed "Kid Cable" who murdered the original stars in a new X-Force series that reunites the surviving members of the original X-Force team. Kid Cable then joined the Fallen Angels alongside Psylocke (the second one) and X-23 before getting his own series.
Cable appears in:
Notable Comic Appearances
- New Mutants (first appearance as Cable)
- X-Force (1991)
- Cable Vol. 1 #1-108 (1993)
- The Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix (1994)
- Soldier X #1-12 (2002)
- Cable & Deadpool #1-50 (2004)
- Cable Vol. 2 (2008)
- Avengers: X-Sanction (2012)
- Cable and X-Force #1-19 (2013)
- X-Force #1-15 (2014)
- Cable Vol. 3 #1-5, renumbered to #150-158 (2017)
- Extermination (2018) (murdered and replaced by younger self)
- X-Force (2018)
- X-Men Vol. 5
- Fallen Angels (2019) #1-6
- Cable Vol. 4 (2020)
- Cable: Reloaded (2021)
Appearances in Other Media
- X-Men: The Animated Series, voiced by Lawrence Bayne (Japanese voice: Tessho Genda)
- Deadpool 2, played by Josh Brolin.
- Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes
- Marvel: Avengers Alliance.
- Super Hero Squad Online
- Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2
For tropes pertaining to the Cable character and those associated with him, see the character page
This page is for tropes applying to the series named Cable; tropes applying to the character go on the characters page.
The various Cable series contain examples of:
- Age Lift: Recently, he's been replaced by a teenaged version of himself, colloquially dubbed "Kid Cable".
- Alternate Timeline Ancestry: He and X-Man are considered the "same" person from two separate timelines, despite the fact that Cable's mother (Madelyne Pryor) was a clone of Nate's mother, Jean Grey.
- Body Horror:
- While Cable's body was still infected with the TO virus, he could become hideously distorted◊ if it was allowed to run unchecked. At one point in his childhood (as depicted in one issue of The Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix), he looked like something out of The Thing (1982).
- One typical way of depicting him losing control of the virus was to have his left arm grotesquely◊ deformed◊
- BFG: One of Cable's trademarks. Covers frequently just have him holding a gun.
- Cain and Abel:
- Cable and Stryfe, as Stryfe is Cable's clone.
- Cable also has an Absalom thing going on with his son Tyler... or at least, he did, until Wolverine killed him.
- Calling the Old Man Out: In the tie-in issue to The Wedding of Cyclops and Phoenix, he calls out Scott for abandoning him by allowing him to be transported into the future as an infant. Cyclops says it was the only way to save Nathan's life, but Nate isn't particularly forgiving. Coincidentally, the follow-up to that series, The Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix, showed Scott and Jean on their honeymoon... where they were transported into said future and did raise Nate!
- Cloning Blues: Stryfe (Cable's clone) and his mother Madelyne Pryor (Jean Grey's clone) are both recurring antagonists for him.
- Cyborg: Thanks to the techno-organic virus he was infected with.
- Cockroaches Will Rule the Earth: There's a storyline in Earth-80521 with a race of humanoid roaches; the Roach Soldiers, and they have their own president.
- Contrasting Sequel Main Character: Cable (2020) is the first Cable series since Cable (2017), and starred Kid Cable rather than the original Cable. While Cable (2017) focused on the main character's time-hopping antics and had him as a stern protector of the timestream who was more than a little tortured because of his secrets, Cable (2020) has Kid Cable as a very happy and well-adjusted teenager who likes to fight and go on dates.
- Continuity Nod: The 2020 series says that Galador was destroyed by the Builders, which is a nod to the Infinity event that Jonathan Hickman wrote.
- Covers Always Lie: The first issue of the "Newer Mutants" arc featured what seemed to be the cast on the cover, including Cable, X-23, Armor, Doop, Shatterstar, Longshot and the Age of Apocalypse's Blink. Most of these characters are in fact the protagonists... except Blink. Not only is she working for the villains, but it's not even the same Blink — the Blink present in the story is the mainstream Blink, while the Age of Apocalypse Blink is nowhere to be seen, and in fact returned later in a new Exiles series.
- Evil Counterpart: The 2008 series positions Bishop as one to Cable, being a time-travelling cyborg mutant from a post-apocalyptic future.
- Evil Twin: His clone Stryfe.
- Fights Like a Normal: He has powers (very strong ones) but they're largely ignored in favor of his really big guns and master hand to hand combat skills. Considering that they're mostly occupied with keeping him alive, this is unsurprising.
- Foil: His half-brother and alternate counterpart, Nate Grey. The two undergo share backgrounds (born to fight Apocalypse and are dedicated to that goal), share misfiring powers, undergo similar Character Development, and even both take up the mantle of saviour, as Nate did as the Mutant Shaman and original Mutant Messiah, and Cable did during Cable & Deadpool. They even both wore trenchcoats at the time. And both willingly gave up the mantle to Hope. However, speaking of that burden, Cable is generally better at handling it, thanks to experience, a surprisingly functional childhood all things considered (complete with loving parents), and a more patience.
- Harmful to Minors: Poor Hope lives in constant danger of this.
- Headbutting Heroes: In his 90s series, Cable frequently came into opposition with the X-Men. This was particularly the case with Cyclops, Jean Grey and Wolverine.
- Love Interest: A couple of his most important relationships are with Domino and Irene Merryweather.
- Manly Tears: Despite Cable's hard, cold exterior most of the time, he has shed a few of them over the years. Examples include over the death of his wife Aliya in the first issue of his series, the first time he went back in time when he is found and taken by Moira Mactaggert to Muir Island and remembers his traumatic past, when he is transported forward in time and meets his younger wife when she was alive but is forced to let her go, when his mentor and friend Prosh is forced to leave Earth to save Nathan from the Techno Organic Virus, when he witnesses his parents wedding and in a Storm mini series when he believes that Ororo is dead.
- Papa Wolf:
- Cable is very protective of the new mutant child Hope, raising her as his daughter.
- Takes a similar attitude towards Nate Grey who is... less than receptive, though he warms up to Cable eventually.
- Plot-Relevant Age-Up: Hope Summers, with the frequent time skips in the 2008 series. In issue 1, she's a baby, by issue 24, she's a teenager.
- Polyamory: While on Krakoa, Kid Cable dates all of the Stepford Cuckoos simultaneously.
- Reed Richards Is Useless: The main theme of the David Tischman run was averting this trope, with Cable using his godlike powers to solve real-world problems like terrorism and ethnic conflicts (albeit with decidedly comic-booky twists like super-plagues and clones).
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Bridge's decision during "The Nemesis Contract" is to leak information to Irene Merryweather as to expose SHIELD's shady dealings in trying to capture Cable.
- Status Quo Is God: No matter what changes are made to Cable, be it killing his archenemy, getting a new power, curing himself of the techno-organic virus, getting weapons other than guns, etc. He always comes back to being a white haired, time tossed soldier with the BFG and metal arm.
- Tagline: "The man called Cable" is frequently associated with the character and his series, having appeared on the cover of his first appearance.
- Terminator Impersonator: Some depictions play up his Terminator similarities (being a hulking, time-travelling, BFG-toting cyborg with a glowing eye).