Comics

How Cable’s New Writers Are Delving into His Past (and Future)

Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler discuss their upcoming run, including Hope and Bishop's roles!

Image for How Cable’s New Writers Are Delving into His Past (and Future)

Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler’s first CABLE arc might be called Past Fears, but the writing duo have built this tale on equal parts nostalgic love and forward-thinking storytelling. The project marks the first project at the House of Ideas for the longtime Marvel fans.

CABLE #155 launches the story that will see the writing duo team with artist German Peralta to reunite Nathan Summers with the young woman he raised while on the run through time, Hope Summers. Along the way they will meet up with a new villain and come across sometimes ally/sometimes pursuer, Bishop.

We spoke with Thompson and Nadler about growing up with Cable, examining his past and chronicling his future!

Marvel.com: How has it been for you guys going from a creator-owned series last year to jumping into the House of Ideas?

Lonnie Nadler: It’s definitely been a strange transition, but a very rewarding one at the same time. We’ve grown accustomed to having full control of our creator-owned books like Come Into Me and Her Infernal Descent, but sometimes that means working in a vacuum, which makes it tough to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. At Marvel, we’re working as part of the X-Men office and our editor Darren Shan has been incredibly supportive in terms of the ideas we bring to the table, but he also isn’t afraid to challenge us and make sure we’re telling a story that fits within Cable’s complex history. We’ve had to do so much research about Cable’s past, dig through old back issues, and that’s been amazing because it comes with the realization that we’re contributing to this massive mythology now. I can’t express how fortunate we feel to be playing in this world. It’s been a learning process, but an exciting one, because at the end of the day, we’re all out here trying to tell the best story possible.

Zac Thompson: It’s honestly pure wish fulfillment. It’s a dream come true to play with these characters in a way that will always be part of the canon. Darren has allowed us to come in and craft an incredibly ambitious storyline that takes everything we love about Cable and twist it in new ways. On top of that, we’ve been able to feature some of our absolute favorite Marvel characters in the run. It never stops feeling surreal. I know that the first time we got to write dialogue for some X-Men I had to take a walk around the block and go… what is real life?

We’re here because we love Marvel and want to give Marvel fans the best X-Men story humanly possible. We’ve been training for this moment our whole lives.

Marvel.com: Can you talk about your personal histories with Cable and how those may have translated into working on the book?

Zac Thompson: I grew up during the 90s which was the quintessential Cable era. I’ve always adored the character as I’ve been obsessed with time travel from a very young age. During my days watching the “X-Men” cartoon and reading my older brother’s random back issues, Cable always stood out as a complete badass. He’s so rich with inner conflict and holds the X-Men universe together in so many ways. I grew up on a steady diet of X-Men books and Cable grew up with me.

As he’s a time traveler, we’re taking this opportunity to visit some of Cable’s most iconic eras and challenging fans to look at them in new and different ways. Past Fears is a love letter to every run of Cable that we admire. Not to mention, we’re really playing with Cable’s techno-organic virus which is a culmination of my personal interests in body horror and superhero comics. The marriage couldn’t be better.

Lonnie Nadler: Like Zac, I’ve been a huge X-Men fan for the majority of my life. I was just telling him the other day how I used to have a wall in my bedroom decorated from floor to ceiling with X-Men posters and comic book pages. I grew up hoping that one day that my mutant powers would manifest and I’d be able to live with Xavier in the X-Mansion. Obviously that never happened, but telling stories in this world is the next best thing.

Cable is incredibly iconic and his massive stature and brash attitude always held a special place in my heart. Yet, he’s also always been somewhat of a mystery because we’ve seen so little of his childhood so this arc is all about exploring who Cable is, what his life was like as a youth, and what demons he carries with him to this day. It’s all about combining our long affection for the X-Men with our grown-up sensibilities and influences.

Marvel.com: As you’ve both mentioned, Cable’s one of those characters with such a rich, interesting and partially unexplored history. Does playing off of that and also filling in some of the blanks appeal to you as writers?

Lonnie Nadler: Absolutely, it does. When we first were offered the gig it was a bit overwhelming to tell the truth because Cable’s background is insanely complex and convoluted. I mean, he’s a gun-toting time traveler who was raised in the future and brought to the present. And that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Anytime you’re dealing with time travel, things get complicated, but when you add mutants and clones and alternate timelines it gets even harder to wrap your head around. With that said, because of this there are almost endless possibilities for the character. Zac and I didn’t want to get bogged down with the time travel elements so we thought it would be interesting to play with time in a different way and take a look at the man Cable is now and how he got to be this way. It’s sort of like “Memento” in that the arc goes backwards through time. Zac and I love working with memory and its implications on the present and Cable is a perfect vessel with which to explore these ideas. Our story is all about different iconic eras from Cable’s life so it allows to both pay homage to all these past version of the character while simultaneously adding our own strange, horrific, tragic stamp.

Zac Thompson: Since Cable’s always been a time traveler it’s really easy to get trapped in circular stories filled with paradoxes. Lonnie and I decided to forgo that complication and look at Cable’s history in and of itself. We wanted to ensure that we got to the core of Cable’s character and dealt with time travel in a really different way – through memory. Past Fears upends everything you knew about Cable during many of his most iconic runs. We wanted to focus on the secrets Cable keeps and his unwavering dedication to protecting the future. This allowed us to inject some of our own influence in Cable’s past. We’re visiting everything from the [Joe] Casey and Ladronn era to the criminally under-explored world of THE ADVENTURES OF CYCLOPS AND PHOENIX. It’s about paying our respects while also adding our own little jab of pain to the past. Not everything is what it seems…

Marvel.com: Your first arc will reunite Cable, Hope and later Bishop. Where are those relationships at as we begin and how will they get tested?

Zac Thompson: In issue #155 we pick up with Cable and Hope completely estranged. In the time since Cable and Hope have last seen one another Cable has become a loner and Hope… Well, Hope has almost become Cable. There’s a lot of legacy to unpack there and with so much of Cable being about protecting the future, Nathan has to make a choice to save his daughter early on in the run, but that choice comes at a terrifying cost. A cost that threatens to destroy everything he’s built for himself.

Bishop comes into play in issue #156 and without spoiling much we’re going back to the Messiah War era. Naturally, Bishop and Cable will not be on the best of terms here. It’s a classic rivalry that we’re really excited to share with fans because we’re doing some really crazy things that will leave jaws on the floor.

Lonnie Nadler: Zac pretty much covered it all. I do have to add that getting to write characters like Hope and Bishop feels amazing and surreal. We’ve grown really attached to Hope over the course of writing this, and she’s such an understated, underused character. Building off of what Duane Swierczynski and Ariel Olivetti built during their run is daunting, but X-Men books work best for me when you bring in elements of family drama and Cable and Hope’s relationship is ripe for that. It gives a sense of gravitas to the whole story. We’d love the opportunity to explore Hope’s character further somewhere down the line.

Marvel.com: The time-hopping duo will face off against a creature of sorts that reminds them of the Techno-Organic virus. How was it seeing how German brought that concept to life on the page?

Lonnie Nadler: Yeah, this arc starts off with Cable and Hope dealing with some of his past demons, something he should have laid to rest a long time ago. This monster, like Cable, is also afflicted with the Techno-Organic virus and we knew right away that its design would be essential for the success of the story. Lucky for us German could not be a more perfect choice for this type of genre-bending narrative. As soon as we saw his initial designs for the monster we understood just how fortunate we were to be working with him. He’s amazing! German has worked with some of the best writers in the game, and he’s just so versatile in his work. He can do emotional moments, horror, and action incredibly well and his storytelling ability is top notch. He’s taken our scripts and added little details to every page that completely augment the story. He’s not the typical style of artist you tend to see on a book like CABLE, but readers are in for a real visual feast here.

Zac Thompson: German is a storytelling master. He’s completely elevated everything we’ve given him to the point where we’re freaking out every single time he sends in a page. With the villain in particular, German has crafted something truly terrifying that almost defies any sort of classification. He’s managed to create a creature that is horrifying and endearing all at the same time. German has managed to subvert our expectations and create a villain that threatens Cable in a way unlike anything ever before. And if you don’t believe us… just wait until the last pages of #155 – they will absolutely blow your mind.

CABLE #155, by Lonnie Nadler, Zac Thompson and German Peralta starts digging up the past on March 21.