The story of the X-Men won’t end well. Almost all of the possible futures of the Marvel Universe seem to go wrong for the X-Men at some point or another, with the mutant heroes and the dream they fought for all but forgotten. While the X-Men have done all kinds of things to keep those dark futures from coming to pass, two of the team’s more popular members, Cable and Bishop, are gun-toting, muscle-bound soldiers from dystopian futures.
While the timelines that Nathan Summers and Lucas Bishop used to call home are equally apocalyptic, the nature of those two dystopias is drastically different. Now, we’re going to take a closer look at these two X-Men and the dark worlds they called home to see which one of these dark, hopeless future is more miserable.
Even though Nathan Summers was born in the modern Marvel Universe, the Apoalcaypse-controlled world of the 38th century forged him into Cable, the time-traveling commando who debuted in Rob Liefeld and Louise Simonson’s New Mutants #88.
After the young telepath was infected by Apocalypse with a techno-organic virus, Nathan was then saved by a sisterhood called the Clan Askani, who offered a safe haven for the child in the 39th century. Officially dubbed Earth-4935, this future is grim for both humans and mutants alike. By the end of the 37th to early 39th century, Apocalypse ruled most of its world, killing anyone openly opposed to his reign. While human and mutant enclaves seeking refuge from Apocalypse’s wrathful followers, low-power mutants and humans tried to find a way to survive by any means. Outside of the halls of the elite, death was common in this world, and few had the strength to bare another day in agony. Left to scavenge for food, and resources, this future is not for the faint at heart.
Even after Apocalypse’s death at the hands of Cable, this world was still doomed. Stryfe, a clone of Cable who Apocalypse molded in his own dark image, took Apocalypse’s place. Stryfe terrorized the future, even killing Cable’s wife before he attempts to travel to the past to frame Cable for Professor X’s death.
Unlike Cable, Bishop was born in the increasingly close future of the late 21st century. In Bishop’s future, most of the X-Men are dead, mutants are imprisoned in camps and Sentinels rule North America after the X-Men’s Hope Summers killed one million humans. Prior to their reign, the giant Sentinels only went after mutants, but they soon began targeting other superhumans and humans who have the potential to have mutant offspring. With a significant amount of the population in internment camps. this Terminator-like future was so bleak that all Bishop had to get him by as a child were stories about the great Charles Xavier and his X-Men.
After humans and mutants finally stopped fighting each other and united to overthrow the Sentinels, Bishop joined Xavier’s Security Enforcers (X.S.E.) to try to help bring order to this fallen world. However, tensions quickly rose again between human and mutant factions.
While hunting down the serial killer Trevor Fitzroy, Bishop traveled to the present day in his debut in Uncanny X-Men #282, by Whilce Portacio, John Byrne and Art Thibert. Although Bishop did not travel to the present day to ensure that his future would not come to pass, he has worked tirelessly, even manically, in pursuit of that goal since making his home among the X-Men.
In both futures, humans and mutants share unimaginable suffering. While neither Bishop nor Cable really traveled to the past to change their future, it’s not hard to see why both of them have tried to keep their worlds from existing. However, one future seems to be a little bit more of a lost cause than the other. Cable’s future sees wide-spread famine, sickness, death and violence. While Bishop’s future has been ravaged by Sentinels and tragedy, humans and mutants could theoretically make a new lasting alliance that could pave the way for a brighter tomorrow. However, Cable’s world can’t be saved by a simple political solution.
It seems like the only hope for Cable’s world is a miracle. With truly horrid conditions on a worldwide scale and ample numbers of Apocalypse loyalists or would-be tyrants, this timeline is a cruel, unforgiving world. With seemingly no escape from oppression or blight, it would take a miracle to save Cable’s adopted home timeline, and the hope for that kind of miracle is the only light in that very dark world.
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Cable and Bishop both come from some of the X-Men's darkest futures, but which one of these Marvel dystopias is really more miserable?