Marvel NOW! Review: Cable and X-Force #2 by Dennis Hopeless and Salvador Larroca

Cable and X-Force #2
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Art: Salvador Larroca
Colors: Frank D’Armata
Letters: Joe Sabino
Assistant Editor: Jordan D. White
Editor: Nick Lowe

Synopsis

I recap the issue, but I made an effort to not spoil some of the interesting Whys and Hows, and in some cases, Who.

Last issue, Cable worked with Dr. Nemesis and Forge to aid his recovery from the techno-organic virus, which has been purged from his system. Meanwhile, his daughter Hope grew frustrated with her father’s absence from her life and baited Domino to seek him out. As everyone meets up, it was revealed Cable is having terrible visions of the future…which suddenly spring to life on Miami Beach in the form of the Transmode Virus.

Domino and Hope scramble to deal with the situation in Miami. Cable is unable to go as he’s in the midst of brain surgery. Miami Beach is a hotbed of media activity, and Hope draws the spotlight as news reporters recognize her and commend her for her super heroics. Meanwhile Domino grabs a sample of the virus before doing away with the monster machine.

Unfortunately, Cable’s brain surgery didn’t go as Dr. Nemesis hoped. In the still hours of the night, Cable prepares to leave on an errand, but his old lover and friend Domino ices up and lectures him. And now we get the true concept of the title: Cable is having visions of the future that he can’t explain, but is rallying to “save the world one more time”. That’s not enough for Domino, who feels that Cable is an old soldier who has earned his retirement, but he maintains he’s the only one who can stop what’s coming.

And so we close out as Cable heads to the Art Institute of Chicago to recruit another ally…the broken Colossus.

And in the midst of all the that, two menacing (but familiar!) players lurk in the shadows (really, they are in them, lurking), silently congratulating themselves on drawing Cable’s attention…

Discussion

As Cable and X-Force launched just one week ago, I wanted to see if it keeps it’s momentum.

Like the first, this issue kicks off with a “present day” cold opening, and then jumps back to our main story, how we got to the present day. It establishes conflict and hooks you immediately. Now that Dennis Hopeless has made the conflict clear (Storytelling 101, you’d be surprised how many big writers in the business don’t do this, and it muddies some good ideas), I’m hooked. Cable assembling a team of the X-Universe’s current has-beens and outcasts to save the world from his mysterious future visions is a story I want to see play out. The cast Hopeless has given us, and especially the way he is handling them, is a jaded group of losers, but they all have heart. You can see that they are finding their purpose again, as bleak as the reason is. And it’s not just a team for the sake of having a team, there are real relationships at work with Domino and Cable’s classic affection and friction, the weight of Cable’s fatherhood and visions on his conscience, Forge and Dr. Nemesis trying to connect with people, Hope’s tightrope walk of media Messiah and a tired girl who’s seen more than anyone should, and now the return of Colossus to the fold. It’s all handled skillfully and teased brilliantly in a few short pages.

It’s always difficult to write characters that people are attached to because you could do anything wrong, but Hopeless knows these characters and gives us his vision with confidence. If the characterization wasn’t enough, this is a title that mixes character development with action and story perfectly. So many books stumble in trying to get off all three in twenty-some pages, let alone a six or twelve issue arc, but Hopeless pulls it off adroitly. Also, I have to give Hopeless a lot of credit for Colossus having retreated to the Art Institute of Chicago.

Salvador Larroca and Frank D’Armata’s art is as inspiring as it was last issue. D’Armata continues his blue and orange tones, and if you’ve ever looked at any summer blockbuster movie poster, you know those colors convey tension and action like no other: it’s Color 101, and it’s dramatically simple and effective in D’Armata’s hands. The lighting is amazing and deserves to be studied, and it pairs well with some of Larroca’s clever camera angles. Larroca’s work is as gorgeous as ever, with every action and expression captured in the perfect moment. The fight scene at the beginning is as fluid as any animation. He plays with scale and wide angles in fun ways, and the tension he coils throughout the book feeds right into D’Armata’s coloring. This is one of the better looking books to come out of Marvel, and it’s not just because of Domino (my personal favorite).

After last week’s issue hit like a shotgun to the gut, my only worry was that the series wouldn’t be able to keep that momentum, and now I won’t even think of that in the future. It’s clear this is a carefully crafted book, from the dialogue to the postures to the moods set by the colors, and is set to be the iconic waypoint of the X-Men universe that Marvel keeps attempting to set up with AvX or Schism. It’s actually happening and it’s here in Cable and X-Force.

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