Heâ€™s the breakout character of Deadpool 2, as well as the next step in Josh Brolinâ€™s unlikely plan to play a comic book character in every cinematic universe. (Donâ€™t forget that in addition to Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War he also played Jonah Hex in the 2010 DC movie of the same name.) Yes, Cable is a time-traveling toughie fans have been waiting to see on the big screen for a long time and he’s finally here! What’s that? You don’t know who he is? You’re worried you’ll look like a n00b at the theater this weekend? Quit your fretting, friends; here are the five comic book runs you should check out for the best summation of everyoneâ€™s favorite gun-toting, half-man, half-machine.
New Mutants (Vol. 1) #87-100
The initial appearances of Cable are, in retrospect, fascinating historical documents that reveal how much of the character was in place from the beginningâ€”notably, his iconography, despite costume changes from issue to issueâ€”and how much wasnâ€™t. As his characterization slowly cools into place, you get to see how a cypher cyborg from the future became a fan-favorite character. This run also offers up the first appearances of Deadpool and Domino (another Deadpool 2 highlight), if you’re into that sort of thing. (Creator Rob Liefeld was a productive man back in the day.)
How to read it: Available digitally and in the X-Force: Cable & the New Mutants print collection.
Cable (Vol. 1) #97-107
More than a decade after his debut, this run feels like it shows a version of Cable as the dude he should’ve been all along: someone who eschews superheroics for techno espionage and finds trouble almost everywhere he looks. (This time, it’s in Lima, Peru.) In the years prior, Cable had undergone many changes in terms of aesthetic, tone, and even purpose, but by the time his first series was coming to a close, he had evolved from high-concept sci-fi hero to something far more grounded in real-world politicsâ€”and the limits they place on true societal change. Those things all lead to this, and it was totally worth it.
How to read it: Available digitally and in back issue bins.
Cable & Deadpool #1-12
If the onscreen pairing of Cable and Deadpool leaves you wanting more, this early 21st century team-up of the charactersâ€”which ran 50 issues in total, and was written by Fabian Nicieza, the creator whoâ€™d spent the most time with Cable to this pointâ€”is exactly the comics dessert you’re looking for â€¦ especially as itâ€™s tonally more in-tune with the movie than the other comics on this list. In other words, itâ€™s funny on purpose. It also doesnâ€™t try to pretend that the two antiheroes make natural BFFs outside of sharing a common creator and series of origin. (Donâ€™t ask; just crack it open.)
How to read it: Available digitally and in the Cable and Deadpool Ultimate Collection Vol. 1 print collection.
Cable (Vol. 2) #1-25
Arguably the most successful incarnation of Cable to dateâ€”and perhaps the most popularâ€”this series sent the character through time with a simple mission: Keep one particular girl alive. Easier said than done when thereâ€™s another time traveler hunting them down with the intent of killing her, not to mention the fact that Cable is also now responsible for raising a child singlehandedly at the same time. Think Terminator-meets-Lone Wolf and Cub and youâ€™ve got the highfalutin concept, as well as an understanding of why everyone loves a good cyborg mutant daddy.
How to read it: Available digitally and in the Cable: The Last Hope Vol. 1 print collection.
X-Force (Vol. 4) #1-15
If the fourth series of X-Force had a subtext it would be taking Cable as far as he could go, and seeing what happened afterwards. Writer Si Spurrier pushes at different pieces of Cableâ€™s mythologyâ€”specifically, the whole cyborg thingâ€”and lets the various characters around him slowly pick up on whatâ€™s going on as the fallout becomes all the more obvious. In many ways, itâ€™s a perfect pairing with the Cable #97-107 choice from above, even if it is the exact opposite of that run. Apparently, there are many stories you can tell with a cyborg time traveler who wants to save the world by shooting things. Who knew?
How to read it: Available digitally and in the X-Force: Dirty/Tricks, X-Force: Hide/Fear and X-Force: Ends/Means print collections.