The storyline Cable was four issues that are going to completely change Ultimate X-Men. First, Cable shows up, kicks the X-Men’s collective asses, then escapes with Marvel Girl. The X-Men go off to save her and fight off the Six Pack, then Cyclops and Professor X attack Cable himself. Cable gets away and…holy crap, Professor X is dead. That’s the spoiler right there. Charles Xavier was reduced to a bare skeleton…which of course opens the door for his eventual return. For the here and now, though, that’s big.
Let’s look at the little things, though. Kitty Pryde, who’s planning on leaving the school anyway, gets stabbed in the gut, giving her the definite reason to take off next issue. Rogue, bummed out by the return of her powers (and a reset from the previous idea of making her Rogue/Gambit), gets her frickin’ arm blown off, opening her to leave the team. Bishop shows up to stop Cable and is stranded in the future, making him an apparent new cast member of the book. Cable is actually Wolverine from the future, minus the healing factor, which turned out to mean absolutely nothing in this storyline, except a shock value moment.
And that’s really what this storyline was. Without the death of Professor X, this story would be nothing more than a “Whoa” storyline. Cable is Wolverine, Rogue loses an arm (which grows back, with help from Wolverine), and there you are. We’re still on the fence as to whether Marvel Girl has the Phoenix powers (yes, she does), so there’s plenty of room for development forthcoming.
It’s been announced that the team will have a major shakedown forthccoming, so here’s what I see happening – Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Wolverine, Iceman, and Storm will be hanging around, while the others shove off to obscurity. It’s already been solicited that Beast will shortly be returning, so you have your original lineup back (minus Colossus who has been greatly overlooked since Millar left) under the tutelage of Bishop. A breakdown like this might pull the book back to what made it good in the first place. It’s felt like it’s been hunting for an identity ever since Millar’s departure. Bendis jammed a crapload of characters in and then blew the whole thing up. Vaughan set up his own stage, but left before he could really do anything with it. Kirkman has certainly shook the entire thing up, and hopefully he gets it going in a better direction. Ultimate Spider-Man has an identity. The Ultimates (when it comes out) has an identity. This book needs one badly.
The next step for Ultimate X-Men is a crucial one if the book seeks to regain any of the momentum it had back when it started. A major shakedown may be exactly what can bring this book back to the level it was once at. A consistent artist wouldn’t really hurt either.